I’m not afraid of anything. Except scorpions. I woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, I opened my eyes and I saw this scorpion just inches away from me on the pillow. And I didn’t know what to do, should I move? Do these things react depending on how I react? Should I stay still? I couldn’t do anything, but I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything. The whole time, that growing feeling of dread was overtaking my whole body. What had started out as a pit in my stomach was spreading upwards, through my throat, out across my neck to my arms. Just when I felt like my heart was going to overload, I blinked, and when I opened my eyes, I started to get the sense that there wasn’t really a scorpion there at all, but it was just a weird way in which the fabric of the pillow was bunched up. And yeah, I had been asleep, and that’s happened before, you wake up and you see something across the room and it takes you a minute to get your wits about you.
Still, I’m basically fearless. Unless we’re talking about heights. I wouldn’t call it a fear, exactly. It’s more like an innate terror, something that my body isn’t really in control of. Like, I take a look down, and whatever sort of instincts drive my most basic decision making process, they start sending out panic-induced distress signals, “Rob, abort, get down from wherever you’re at.” If I’m on an airplane, or a Ferris wheel, or even if I’m just watching a movie or a Youtube clip featuring somebody doing something high up off the ground, I get that sweaty palm sensation, which speaks to my empathic abilities, to really put myself in the shoes of anybody. Who knows? Maybe it’s hereditary. Maybe all of my ancestors died horrible deaths after falling from a great height, and through evolution, that fear has been passed down to me, to hopefully prevent me from meeting a similar fate. In which case it’s an advantage.
But no, besides scorpions and heights, I’d have to say that I’m not really scared of anything. Wait, I forgot to mention heartburn. I’m pretty scared of heartburn, not that I suffer from it that often, it’s definitely not a chronic problem. It’s just that, I remember this one time in college, I went to the cafeteria, waited on the line for the omelet station. Usually I’d just grab something premade, but on this day I guess I felt like I deserved something fresh, like it was worth the wait. “Give me everything,” I told the omelet guy, and he said, “OK,” using those mini tongs to pile in a little bit from each container, peppers, onions, cheese, everything. And it was great, but right afterwards, I started getting what I’d later identify as heartburn, that stinging right below the chest. There was no relief, laying down didn’t help, I couldn’t walk it off. Finally I went to the nurse and explained my symptoms. She gave me a bottle of Tums and told me to take four every half hour. And it worked. But still, that feeling, I’m still terrified of that burning, it felt like I was being eaten alive from the inside.
Also, carcinogens, I’m really afraid of carcinogens, all of them, yellow number-five, the stuff that’s in plastic bottles, harmful radiation from the sun, I’m afraid of all of it. One time I read this article about how if you keep your laptop on your lap, then that’s basically a carcinogen, because you’re irradiating your lap. So I threw out that laptop and started only using my phone. And then I read something else about how phones might cause brain abnormalities. So I threw out the phone and I exclusively use my desktop computer.
Wait, I forgot germs, and this ties in, because the desktop computer use is also a way to make sure I’m not touching anybody else’s keyboard, OK, and they’re not using mine. Because we’re getting into flu season, and I can’t afford to start thinking about the flu, if only I weren’t so scared of needles, or vaccinations, I could get a flu shot and sleep easy for a while. But even just the cold, isn’t it always cold season? Or strep throat. One time this guy at work told me that he was recovering from strep throat, and so I quit, no way.
I think I’m getting carried away, but I’m actually very brave, it takes a lot to rattle me. What was that? Did you hear that? I think someone’s at the front door. I can’t be positive that it might not be an attacker. Look, just, if you’re reading this, do me a favor, use your germ-ridden cell phone and call the cops, tell them to swing by and just kind of drive really slowly in front of my house, just to, you know, scare away any would-be home invaders. I think they’re still knocking. Hurry up, all right? I can’t take the sitting here, squirming, imagining all of the hundred different ways in which this is all going to crash down around me, just wind up horribly, horribly wrong.