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Fanfare for the Common Man: Phobia Phun

  • Wednesday, October 16, 2013



I saw the movie Gravity this past weekend, much against my better judgment.

I knew what I was getting into as I bought my ticket. Rather than the two minutes of high anxiety I enjoyed when watching the Gravity trailer, I was all set to enjoy 91 minutes of what I call “Phobia Phun” at the movies.

A phobia by definition is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.”

I beg to differ.

It’s not being paranoid if they’re really out to get you.

There is nothing extreme or irrational about not liking being confined into a tight or small place like a space capsule, or worse, a space suit, with nothing standing between you and the vast and cold emptiness of outer space except a vessel or suit built by the lowest bidder.

Seeing Sandra Bullock in that space suit with the glass visor just inches from her nose made MY nose start to itch, and I had to pause to scratch it even as I wrote this. It itched through the trailer previews and it itched through the entire 91 minutes of the movie.

I knew going in and seeing Gravity in the theater that I would invite all my “Phobia Phriends” along for the afternoon.

Let me explain.

Right off the bat Gravity triggered two of my more favorite phobias, claustrophobia, the fear of small or confined spaces, and acrophobia and altophobia, the fear of heights. Seeing Sandra Bullock in the space suit spawned the itching nose, acarophobia, the fear of itching, and the eight minutes where she’s spinning out of control ignited my fear of vomiting, secondary to airsickness, aeronausiphobia.

Also, as Sandra and George Clooney orbited the earth, a new phobia emerged, the fear of stars and celestial space, astrophobia. There is so much open space out there and you just go on and on forever and ever.

And we hadn’t finished with the opening credits yet.

It’s a domino effect with me. You start with one and, like thoughts, it wanders and heads off into something new.

The fear of itching segues into feeling bugs crawling over my skin. I remember when my daughter came home from school one day with lice and even though I never found one nit on me I was convinced I had become a walking ant hill, which is insectophobia.

So I’m digging at every crease on my person, and scratching my nose, experiencing vertigo, and hyperventilating because if Sandra Bullock can’t breathe, neither can I.

The whole letting go of the space station and flying in free orbit around the earth made my toes curl. That’s called fear of jumping from high or low places, catapedaphobia.

I haven’t stopped scratching since I started this column by the way and now I have a red spot on my elbow the size of a quarter. Great. That’s called dermatophobia, a fear of rashes. I probably acquired scabies, or worse, chiggers, from the theater seat because the eight-year-old who sat in my seat during the 1 p.m. showing went camping last weekend and played in a weed-lolly in the woods, which of course, brings us back to insectophobia.

Seven bucks and 91 minutes later I left the theater a walking tic.

I think I also suffer from amnesiaphobia, the fear of having amnesia, but I don’t remember if I do or not.

Oh yeah, I just loved the movie.

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