When I was a young child, buttons made me gag. I truly have no idea why, but the sight of them, literally made me convulse in spasm. If I close my eyes, I see them, and I remember being repulsed by them. Any type of button - any shape, any texture. This presented quite a problem for my mother, as she had to be sure that every stitch of clothing that I owned, could not have a button anywhere on the garment. Think about it, no button closures on shirts (I wore a lot of turtlenecks) – no buttons on pants (snaps I could handle – and being young, I was not yet a slave to fashion) – no buttons on jackets (ahhh, I remember my faux fur purple jacket, with the funky closures circa 1975)..
I eventually outgrew the aversion, or perhaps traded it for others. There was the summer where I refused to wear a bikini top – there I was, swimming in the pool, with my green checkered bikini bottoms, with the ruffled skirt attached – and no top. I was probably 4 or 5 at the time – and I remember my parents softly suggesting that I add a top to my suit – and I flatly refused. This would eventually come back to haunt me, in the form of pictures in the family photo album. Thankfully, they have not found their way onto Facebook, although I am sure that eventually they will, completely destroying any chance of me having a reputable movie career..
There was my fear of shredded wheat. I guess it was not really a fear – but more of an aversion. You see, the last time I had eaten shredded wheat - I went to school, and wound up puking pink all over the classroom floor – yes, pink, like Pepto Bismol. I was in 3rd grade, and my dear friend, Tricia, whom I have been friends with for well over 35 years, has no problem bringing the story up, repeatedly, to anyone we both come in contact with. I thought in my head that it was in fact, the shredded wheat that made me puke, when in fact, it was probably something completely unrelated. Come to think of it, I believe that Tricia mentioned my pink puke nightmare in a speech on my wedding day. No wonder my marriage didn’t last!
As I have aged, things have gotten worse – aversion wise. Yet, I think I have a perfectly logical explanation for many of my idiosyncrasies..
There is my issue with plastic cutlery. Open plastic forks, knives, spoons – gross! Who knows what grimy fingers were touching them! Perhaps someone sneezed on them. Perhaps small creatures defecated on them. All in all, whenever I am eating, and it necessitates plastic utensils, a part of me dies inside.
Windmills - Those giant blades swinging around.. I am terrified of being hit by one. Worse! I am afraid that one will swoop around, and I will be forced to grab on and swing around on one.. I am sure it would not be enjoyable, especially with my huge fear of falling.
Falling - I am not graceful. Nor am I blessed with ample cushion in my posterior. So, when I fall on my ass, it hurts, and I am sure rather a funny scene, as with no upper arm strength, and bad knees, getting up is a bit of a challenge. I try to avoid falling at all costs. I don’t wear shoes with any sort of heel, as my lack of coordination could turn into a nasty fall. I walk around puddles, small creatures, children and plants (there could be a hidden branch that could jump out at any time). Last year’s difficult winter was a nightmare for me. The snow, I was fine with. It was the hidden danger – ice… the arch enemy to those afraid of falling. Last year, I had just started a new job, and had to struggle to get there on time every morning, even during the snow and sleet. The parking lot was not plowed very well, and there were many patches of snow and ice. I would be forced to climb snow banks, to get to the building entrance. One morning, I climbed over a snow bank, and unbeknownst to me, right onto a patch of ice, covered in snow. I immediately went down. Worse.. I could not get up, as I was dead center in the ice. I had to crawl to a dry patch of street, and hug the curb as I hauled myself up off the ground. Thankfully¸ no one saw my acrobatics. But my day was ruined, and my knees and ass were soaked.
Horses – Now, from a distance, horses are beautiful animals. Watching someone ride a horse is a beautiful thing. In my youth, I wanted nothing more than to learn how to ride a horse. But, then I remember my experience with Paul Bunyon Day Camp – and I find it difficult to harness the pain.
It was the summer before I entered fourth grade. My parents both worked, and I had to be stuck somewhere for the summer. So, my parents thought it would be good for me to go to day camp. I hated the plan. I wanted to stay home with my older brother and watch reruns of ‘What’s Happening’ and ride my bike and look for frogs. Side note: Have you noticed that there are no frogs around? I never see a frog in my yard, even though I have quite the forest going on back there. But anyhow, back to Paul Bunyon and his awful camp… We went to the camp, to take a tour, sometime around April or May. Back then you did not have to go on a waiting list for two years before getting your child into a day camp. So, we tour the place, which to me, sucked. I made it quite clear that I had no interest in going when my parents threw in the ultimate bribe… “If you go to day camp.. you can take HORSEBACK RIDING!!!!” I immediately saw myself astride a beautiful palomino, graceful and happy, jumping those things horses jump.. me, with my fashionable riding gear and snappy hat… It was beautiful. It was every 8 year old girls’ dream. Yeah, well, a funny thing happened on the way to day camp.. HORSEBACK RIDING IS EXPENSIVE! So, I never got to go to the horseback riding classes. I got to change in and out of my bathing suite in a room with 35 other girls. Not exactly my idea of a good summer, and not exactly a good self esteem builder for the chubby girl. That was also the summer that a cat came into our backyard, and ate my pet duck. But, I couldn’t grieve – because I had to go to DAY CAMP!
You may ask, what does this story have to do with my fear of horses?? I’m getting to that part.. You see, when I got older, and I started dating my first boyfriend. Horseback riding was one of those romantic things you do in the beginning of a relationship. We also went row boating, kissing down by the water, on many picnics and pumpkin picking around Halloween. But, I digress. We decided to take a car trip out east, towards Montauk. Along the way, we see a sign, “HORSEBACK RIDING”.. so I squeal like a girl, then I share the story of my youth with my new boyfriend. Because he had yet obtained carnal knowledge of me, he was anxious to please me, in hopes of getting me to play with his ding ding.. So, off we went to ride horses.