Just as I'm not like most adults, I also wasn't like most kids. I had a few quirks. *coughsputterletsbehonestlotsofthem.* For starters, I had about thirty phobias. They didn't fit in any category, I was more of a sampler box. Some of my fears were founded, others nothing that a quick prayer and the sign of the cross didn’t cure.
How I came to amass these phobias is a complex explanation. To help you envision what life as an 8-year-old me was like, try this on: whereas someone else might hear someone tell of a frightful situation and make a comment then move on, this shared story would move into my heart and soul, my mind took it and made it into omg that could be me.
When I was in the second grade, I read that it was an asp that killed Cleopatra. That’s all the information I needed to heave the pre-Google days of my childhood straight into a breathless run to the library, my chest leaning against the reference librarian's desk. "Pictures, pictures please, of an asp!" The librarian (why didn't she ever ask my name? you think she'd want to know my name) would peer over her bifocals and walk me over to the science shelf. Once there, I would sit with the nature books open before me and memorize every pictorial rendition of an asp, in all its possible lengths and widths, so if one were to slither up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I would know it and escape accordingly.
On the days I wasn’t monitoring the ground for asps on my ten-block walk to school, I feared that on the first day of the week back to school on Monday, the lunch lady would give me back my lunch money change in counterfeit change, because I always started the week with a fresh five-dollar bill that I’d have to break on Mondays for Hot Dog Day. We had just discussed counterfeit bills in school, especially with five dollar denominations being the most common ones counterfeited!
It was exhausting being scared, and at the end of the night had I know of the word masseuse, I would have dreamed of one. I could only occupy my mind with one fear at a time, and my existence was energy consuming. Until one day I got smart and decided to combine my phobias for less physical exertion.
Mondays could be counterfeit money and asp day.
Tuesdays I would allow my sweaty-palmed fear of my pens running out of ink during a spelling test in combination with not having enough tissues in my desk in case of a dry-air bloody nose. (these two things did happen to me, and here is your example, a fine one, of a phobia that is founded)
Wednesday I could kill two phobia birds with one relief stone by walking around practicing what to say in case the most popular girl in class talked to me (one day in home ec class, one did) and rehearsing an at-the-ready apology in case there was someone I had absent mindedly forgotten to say sorry to. (my sewing teacher, who was always so kind to me, but she spoke to me at the same time as Connie Piscitello did, and what can I say--I was starstruck)
This doubling up was freeing up some serious mental time and I was loving it.
It didn’t take long to realize that streamlining my phobias could leave me with a blank mental slate and free me up for Saturday and Sunday.
But needing to get all my phobias in by Friday meant I had to schedule four or five a day. Efficiency fell into place with alliteration, because grouping like sounding items together works for everyone.
Fridays were my F day.
Fridays were my F day.
Friday, when I’d mince my Food with my Front teeth For Fear of Finding a Fish bone in my Friday night Fish Fry and choking combined with Fearing that I’d Forget to ask For a Five-dollar bill For the Following week.
Clever child that I was, this plan worked, I had an as close to normal life as a child like me, could.
I’ll Stop here and Say that Sweet Saturday and Sunday came none too Soon. Their Sunrise arriving with a Sigh, to See me Serenely Smiling in the Secure Surrender of the Safety of the Subliminal Silence in my Skull.
Ah, the sensation of sweet sleepy stimuli-free Saturday and Sunday.