To find the phobia that suits you best, visit http://phobialist.com/
The other night I quite accidentally overcame my lifelong fear of down escalators (escalaphobia); and I was almost too engrossed in my new book to notice. In fact, being distracted was the whole key.
Hurrying across the second floor of Barnes and Noble toward the registers to pay for The Zen of Writing, I absentmindedly walked off the solid parkay flooring onto the escalator’s precarious, descending top step.
No panic attack, no rapid breathing, not even a couple of sweaty palms? Hey, I did it!!!
Like a toddler going in the potty for the first time, I expected praise and applause. Like the guy with the five-o’clock shadow in the self-help section would look up and cheer “Atta girl, Angela! Way to get on that escalator all by yourself!” But he didn’t…because most people have been fearlessly riding escalators since they learned to walk.
No one seems to know where my phobia came from. Riding up escalators has never been a problem, but going down strikes fear akin to rattlesnakes, public nudity and four more years of Obama.
When anyone asks, I’d like to be able to pull off my shoe and show them the mangled remaining toes from when I was partially sucked into the step-flattening conveyor belt. Then I’d solemnly say “this is the reason I don’t get on escalators.”
But no, I have no idea where it came from. I’ve just always panicked and gone out of my way in search of elevators, stairs, a fireman’s pole, anything to keep from having to take that dizzying first moving step.
While shopping once, I told some friends that my fear was the result of lingering vertigo, as if vertigo comes and goes like the pain of an old sports injury. I liked how it made avoiding escalators sound reasonable and sane, even pitiable.
I’m not the only person who suffers from an illogical phobia. My kids’ babysitter, Sydney, is frightened to death of vacuum cleaners(Hooveraphobia) because as a child her babysitter tried to vacuum the hair off her head. My friend Catherine is afraid of being bitten by a British person with bad teeth. (Anglodentophobia) She’s still in therapy over seeing Austin Powers. My sister, Pamela, suffers from anthophobia, the fear of flowers because when she was a toddler my evil grandmother told told her to stay away from her tacky silk arrangements or they would bite her.
According to Julie, my neighbor and a fruitful (lol) internet search, lots of people are afraid of bananas, a condition uncreatively called bananaphobia. What could possibly be frightening about a banana? I admit I don’t like getting a banana string in my teeth, but I don’t cry and run away from them. Perhaps, though all these banana fearing people could easily step onto the world’s tallest escalator without flinching. I wonder if people afraid of bananas are also afraid of banana trees, banana peppers, banana scented sunscreen and the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.
After reading a few phobia lists, I don’t feel too ridiculous anymore. Here are some that stand out. Writing this makes me feel like Lucy in the Peanuts Christmas special trying to diagnose Charlie Brown’s holiday melancholy.
Fayophobia – fear of elves
Alliumphobia – fear of garlic
Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth
Aulophobia – fear of flutes
Chronometrophobia – fear of clocks
Defecaloesiophobia – fear of painful bowel movements
Dutchphobia – fear of Dutch people and culture
Ephibinophobia – fear of teenagers
Geniophobia – fear of chins
Genuphobia – fear of knees
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words
Levophobia – fear of being left handed
Metrophobia – is the fear of poetry
Mycophobia – the fear of mushrooms
Papaphobia – fear of the Pope
Thaaophobia – fear of sitting down
Walloonaphobia – fear of Walloons (what the heck is a Walloon? Is that a typo? How will I know if they’re scary or not?)
Xanthophobia – fear of the color yellow
What’s your fear? I’m not afraid to find out.