Al Batt: Who’s afraid of the big, bad phobophobia?

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


At least you’re not wearing an ill-fitting exam gown.

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You’re sitting in that little consulting room after having gone through a series of tests when the doctor comes in. He might have finished last in his class, but you still call him Doctor.

“The tests are conclusive,” he says grimly. “There’s no doubt. You have phobophobia.”

That didn’t sound good. You think about when you last updated your will and where the life insurance policies are. You should have known better than to buy those green bananas.

The doctor smiles. The cruel, uncaring knothead.

He explains that he subscribes to an email newsletter that teaches him a new word daily. The day’s word was phobophobia. He’s no psychologist, but he suspects you have phobophobia. Phobophobia is the fear of fear or the excessive fear of acquiring a phobia. After successfully scaring three years off your life, he tells you there is nothing wrong with you that losing 10 pounds wouldn’t cure.

He caused you to develop a severe case of latrophobia, the fear of doctors.

Who said, “I wish I could be afraid of more things?” No one, ever, but there are many common phobias. Here are some, followed by their definitions: Arachnophobia — the fear of spiders. Entomophobia — abnormal fear of insects. Ophidiophobia — fear of snakes. Acrophobia — fear of heights. Hemophobia — fear of blood. Aerophobia — fear of flying. Claustrophobia — fear of confined spaces. Cynophobia — fear of dogs. Astraphobia — fear of thunder and lightning. Trypanophobia — fear of hypodermic needles. Agoraphobia — fear of crowded places. Mysophobia — fear of germs and dirt. Omphalophobia — fear of belly buttons. Loserphobia — fear the Vikings will never win a Super Bowl.

I suffered a brain concussion and blew out a knee in high school. Thank you, football. A hard hit in football knocked me loopy. Or loopier. The next thing I knew, the doctor asked me to count his fingers. Apparently, they didn’t teach addition in the medical school he’d attended. Then he asked me what day it was. I didn’t know. There was a good chance I wouldn’t have known before the injury as I was chronically confused. My father was relieved to hear it was a brain concussion. “At least he didn’t hurt anything he uses,” said Dad.

Thanks to those injuries, I spent more time ingesting aspirins than I should have. The large wad of cotton stuffed in the top of an aspirin bottle gave me the creeps, but it was hardly a phobia. The cotton’s purpose was to fill space in the bottle and prevent the tablets from rattling around and pulverizing themselves. With coated tablets, the cotton in some bottles is no longer necessary. It probably isn’t even cotton. It’s still there — tradition.

Looking over high ledges bothered me in dreams. Falling off high ledges bothered me even more. Fortunately, there was a dearth of high ledges in my youth.

This happened while I was working in Hungary. Maybe it was the country’s name. Maybe it was the time of day or my metabolism rate, but I was hungry. I stopped at an eatery that offered outside dining. I ordered beef goulash served with homemade spaetzle, red cabbage and strudel. The waitress spoke to me in excellent English and warned me that I shouldn’t give the donkey any beer. I didn’t see any donkeys and I hadn’t ordered a beer. I concluded she was checking to see if I were her spy contact and I assured her that I wouldn’t provide beer to any donkey.

I enjoyed my delightful repast. I watched a fellow diner get up from a picnic table to get a beer. As I watched him leave, I watched a donkey arrive. I’m not sure where the animal had been. Probably in a donkey restroom or a donkey bedroom. The man offered a beer to the donkey. The burro slurped it down as if the animal had been crawling across a desert for a week. The glass emptied, the man went inside to get another beer and, I hoped, a clean glass. The donkey walked to where the man had been sitting, and scout’s honor, ate the fellow’s goulash. Maybe the beer made the donkey do that, hence the warning.

I think it happened right then and there. I developed a phobia about a drunken donkey eating my goulash while I enjoyed a delightful repast of beef goulash served with homemade spaetzle, red cabbage and strudel.

I call it a-drunken-donkey-eating-my-goulash-while-I-enjoyed-a-delightful-repast-of-beef-goulash-served-with-homemade-spaetzle-red-cabbage-and-strudelphobia.

It doesn’t bother me much.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.