Halloween. It’s a-comin’. The stores around me are filled to bursting with goblins and ghouls, headstones and skulls.
And I have to say…I love it.
It’s always fun to see all the stuff that’s scary, and all the stuff that’s not, as Halloween approaches each year. It’s also been fun to watch my child as she learns to be afraid of the things you’re supposed to be afraid of. When she was one, we recorded video footage of her dancing to the Halloween theme song…now she knows enough to shudder when that same piece of music comes on.
Halloween’s also a good time to reflect on our real-life fears and phobias, and to think about why they freak us out. I thought I’d use my time here to list some of my own. I figure this list is not only fun, but for those of us developing new characters day in and day out, it’s a good reminder: people are afraid of weird things. Don’t be afraid to give your characters a random (but well-supported) phobia or two. It can add depth and…well…possibly a little bizarre-o humor.
1. Clowns. This is not unique to me, but seems to be a trend among my generation (I grew up in the 80s). We are the watchers of Poltergeist, and the readers of It. We learned to fear clown dolls that lurked under beds, and clown monsters that lurked in sewers. To this day, the sight of a clown makes me nauseated, and I know I’m not alone.
2. Canada geese. *gasps in horror* When I was just a wee thing (not more than 2), my brother and cousins were watching me at a park while our mothers stepped away for a second. I was strapped in my stroller, snug as a bug. When a gaggle of Canada geese swarmed us, they all ran for cover, hopping up on a nearby picnic table, but they LEFT ME IN THE STROLLER ON THE GROUND. Apparently when my mom found me I was traumatized. Today, if Ihave to run past a group of geese in one of the dozens of ponds in my neighborhood, I struggle. I have to yell at them and make them move in order to pass.
3. I can’t have anyone touch my neck. Not even my husband or child. I’m not sure from whence this little weirdness comes, but I think I harbor deep-seated fears of being strangled to death. Seriously. If you touch my neck, I jerk away. If you grab it like a hairy mad-man about to kill me, I scream and cry and it takes me an hour to recover.. It’s embarrassing.
4. Spiders. Really, I don’t WANT to be afraid of spiders. I LIKE spiders. But if they’re near me, or moving, or…well,especially if my CHILD PICKS ONE UP….yeah, I’m not happy. My heart races, my palms sweat…it’s terribly childish, but it is what it is. A few years ago, I got really attached to a spider that looks like this <——– that set up camp in our back yard. I’d watch her for hours, but always from a distance. When she died, I mourned…but I made my husband clean up her carcass. I wasn’t going NEAR that thing!
5. Ticks. I had Lyme Disease as a kid and was pretty sick. The sight of a tick today will reduce me to a wibbly-wobbly, screaming pile of goo on the kitchen floor. I live in fear of the day my childcomes home with a tick embedded in her skin…it won’t be pretty.
There. Five of my phobias, on very public display. Now it’s your turn…what are yours?