OFFBEAT: Fear can be good, up to a point

By CORY FROLIK Former Huron County reporter for the Register The day I moved into my apartment in southeast Sandusky, I opened a cupboard in the kitchen where I found the biggest, most monstrous spider I've seen since the film "Arachnophobia." I immediately slammed the cupboard door shut. I never opened it again.
Commentary
May 14, 2010

 

By CORY FROLIK

Former Huron County reporter for the Register

The day I moved into my apartment in southeast Sandusky, I opened a cupboard in the kitchen where I found the biggest, most monstrous spider I've seen since the film "Arachnophobia."

I immediately slammed the cupboard door shut.

I never opened it again.

I may never open a cupboard again if that's what I can expect to find hiding in them.

Spiders give me the heebie-jeebies.

I keep a thick copy of Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov" in my apartment not only to look smart, but also just in case something itsy-bitsy crawls up my waterspout and I need to rain down dense Russian pain on it.

I am so spider-averse that I won't visit staff photographer Luke Wark's apartment in downtown Sandusky because I once saw an arachnid there that was so massive it must have swallowed Little Miss Muffet whole.

I ran my little tuffet out of there and I haven't been back since.

Listen, I know I'm being silly.

I know that spiders kill roughly the same number of people in the U.S. as banana peels do.

But I can't help it.

Like about 10 percent of Americans, I have a phobia, which is an irrational fear of something that poses little to no threat.

Of course, arachnophobia is more understandable than, say, lutraphobia, which is a phobia of otters, because let's get serious: Otters aren't scary.

Otters swim on their backs and do adorable little things with their paws. They inspire oohs and ahhs from visitors to the zoo.

Spiders, meanwhile, bite, burrow, scurry, crawl in your mouth and bellybutton as you sleep, and generally terrorize the human race.

But recently I've stopped judging others for their fears, no matter how outlandish, because after five-plus years in the news business, sometimes it feels as though everything is potentially dangerous.

Every day I write or read about wildly implausible stories involving tragic circumstances that I would find silly if I saw them on the silver screen.

For instance, a rabid otter in March viciously attacked an elderly man in Venice, Fla., something I can't believe happens outside of Ben Stiller's goofball comedies.

Also, for a long time I would have laughed at people who have chaetophobia (fear of hair), but no more.

After hearing the horror stories about the spread of head lice in Huron County, I view hair as a possible source of trouble.

I have switched shampoos and fear sitting too close to kids in restaurants and movie theaters (irrational, I know, but I'm already stout and short -- I can't have head lice, too. That would be game over).

Of course, you could argue I'm developing pediculophobia (fear of lice), but I think I'm now prejudiced against hair, the carrier of that lice.

Speaking of hair, pogonophobia (fear of beards) at first blush seems laughable, but I've seen enough mug shots of criminals with big, thick beards that I guess I can understand the anxiety the whiskers inspire.

Also, lice and spiders can hide in a beard.

You'll understand why I'm reluctant to go see ZZ Top in concert.

Working in the news business makes me fear that I'm becoming phobophobic (afraid of fears).

But I'm doing my best to keep things in perspective.

One otter attack doesn't justify a fear of the otherwise friendly, furry little fellows, and a few cases of head lice shouldn't shade my opinion of all hair.

Besides, otters and beards don't have eight legs and a tendency to hide in my cupboards, waiting to pounce.

A few irrational fears are fine, but you can't be afraid of everything.

It's not healthy, it's too time-consuming and -- come on, get serious -- few things are scarier than spiders.