Do you suffer from Escalophobia, Genophobia or Mycophobia? I fear for you.

To find the phobia that suits you best, visit

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.

This entry was posted in fear of bananas, fear of birds, fear of clowns, fear of down escalators, phobias, strange fears and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Do you suffer from Escalophobia, Genophobia or Mycophobia? I fear for you.

  1. Jamie says:

    I remember having that same fear as a child. We would go to the big department store and I would stand at the top and look down. NO WAY. I think we must have taken the elevator down. Sometimes I still have that moment of waiting for the perfect time to step on..glad you conquered your fear…..


  2. Nick says:

    Gotta be someone out there with Blogophobia.


  3. Joy says:

    I think I may have Phobophobia.
    Fear of being afraid.


  4. Sharon says:

    Great blog and so glad you are no longer afraid.

    My mother used to be afraid of escalators so one day I went with her and held her hand as we went down. All okay after that.

    My fear is shortcashlongmonthaphobia.


  5. Jody Worsham says:

    I have Computerphobia…fear of deleting everything on my computer or is that Deletaphobia. I used to have Blogaphobia, Nick, but I conquered that. I still have lingering post-a-picture-on-the blog phobia related to the Blog and the computer phobia. I hope to conquer that in April at EBWW. the Medicare Mom


  6. Anonymous says:

    I am ahving this fear about sunday evenings and monday mornings .. I dont feel like driving on monday mornings.. I am afraid i may hit someone. on sunday evneing there is that strange feeling which i can not explain…

    What the hell is this.. did anyone overcome this one .. any help. :)?


  7. Fear of the Pope? Oh, now that’s a new one!


  8. My Mother has always been afraid of escalators too. You would probably not like our Forum Shops Mall here in Las Vegas then. It has the only curved escalators in the World. They are very beautiful though. Me I’m probably afraid of a lot but try not to think of it so maybe I’m afraid of being afraid!


  9. Cathy says:

    Fear of heights? That’s me. Fear of arguing (in the nicest way) all day long with my Republican son since I am a liberal? Yup.

    Fear of telling you that four more years with Obama would be better than the other party’s options? Um, this is your blog and I respect your opinion. And I did love how you threw that in there! 🙂


  10. I’m irrationally anxious about using escalators, too. I think it’s because I read of this woman who was riding it one time when the stairs beneath her… OH, NEVERMIND. No need to scare the hell out of you further.

    Thank heavens I don’t have this: Chronometrophobia – fear of clocks. My husband collects old clocks and we’d likely end up divorced.


  11. I hope you are not Dutchphobic! lol Who knew we were a society with so many phobias!


  12. loisaltermark says:

    There are an amazing variety of phobias out there. And, sorry, but I’m with Cathy — the only real fear I have is four years of a Republican president.


  13. CaptCruncher says:

    My son was afraid of getting sucked into an escalator and I have no idea where that came from!


  14. Naomi says:

    I fear public places, especially with fragile things and people. I know where the fear comes from, but it doesn’t help me overcome it. The only thing that helps is to have some time alone in a quiet place.


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