My friends know very well that a number of silly things scare me more than they scare the average person. The only fear I’ve discussed on this blog in detail is flying, and really, lots of people are scared to fly. (Otherwise, stories like this one from The Awl wouldn’t exist. “Don’t listen to music. Don’t read. Don’t think of anything happy. Think only of your death and your funeral.” Yeah, I’ve been there.)
You won’t see jokey articles telling you how to overcome these fears I have, because they are admittedly kind of ridiculous:
Fear #1: Getting set ablaze by a wayward firework
I loved fireworks when I was a kid. Every Independence Day, we would go to my grandmother’s house in northeastern Pennsylvania, where any idiot over 18 can purchase fireworks, and watch as people set them off in the alley behind her house. My fear did not set in until I saw the professional fireworks shows put on after Binghamton Mets games. The longer I looked up at the sky, the closer to the ground the burning embers seemed to fall. I began to imagine how it would feel to stop, drop, and roll to the tune of the “Proud to Be an American” song*, which plays during pretty much every professional fireworks show. Now that I’m back in Pennsylvania, home of lax fireworks regulation, I cower in fear every Fourth of July, even when I’m right next to a lake that I could easily jump into to extinguish myself.
Fear #2: Getting hit by a stray baseball at a ball game
I call myself a baseball fan – go Yankees! go Phillies! (unless they’re playing the Yankees!) – but I find the sport rather boring. I mostly go to games to drink beer and eat ice cream out of little helmets. However, this kind of indifference comes with a price. A devoted baseball fan, eyes glued to the field, would know if a foul ball were coming straight at them. I, with my short attention span and bottomless-pit stomach, may not. And even when a ball does come in my general direction, my gut instinct is to duck and cover. It would be more effective to get out of the way, but my adrenaline-brain doesn’t know that. Even if the ball didn’t hit me, I would probably be crushed by the morons who try to catch it like it’s some kind of prize instead of a high-velocity death-sphere. Just another reason that basketball trumps the great American pastime.
Fear #3: Getting hooked by a fisherman mid-cast
Who’s seen There’s Something about Mary? I have, and I will never forget this horrifying scene:
I don’t generally hang out on docks, so you’d think I could let this one go. However, one of my favorite Lehigh Valley parks has a stream running through it, and whenever I jog past the fisherman, I become seriously uneasy. They seem to love nothing more than to wave their poles around willy-nilly just as I’m about to run behind them. The day of the LCD Soundsystem show must have been the first day of fishing season, because people were out in record numbers during my run, and I kept thinking, What if I can’t go to the show because I’m getting my face stitched up?
Sure, laugh at me, but these things really do happen. I know a girl who got hooked in the scalp while she was out on a boat, by a fisherman in another boat. And just ask the Philly Phanatic how he feels about foul balls today, a day after he got clocked in the neck by one. (Well, the guy inside the costume got hit in the head. I hear he is fine, which is good, but I am sure it didn’t feel too pleasant.) I don’t have an anecdote about fireworks injuries, but the Fourth is right around the corner. I just hope that my cowering and constant vigilance is enough to protect me from ending up with my hair on fire.
*I know this song is called “God Bless the USA,” but I wasn’t sure that anyone would get that reference.