Anyone who knows me understands a few important and helpful things about me.
A. I tend to make inappropriate jokes at completely awkward times (i.e. moments after a friend's home has been robbed and violated, funerals, etc.). It's a defense mechanism... usually to deter the following personal quirk:
B. I cry. Buckets. I'm not the cute, single-tear crier. That's for romantic comedies and Indians who do PSA's about the environment. It's not me. Doesn't matter when or why either -- happy, sad, frustrated, scared, what-have-you. More on that another day, but many times, tears stem from this:
C. I have numerous, entirely illogical fears. They range from simply unnerving to downright spine tingling, but much like how people with Autism fall all over what is known as the "Autism Spectrum", I have come up with a handy-dandy way to organize my plethora of weird and totally whack-ass phobias.
Only in the last 10 years have I really begun to identify the problem areas and start making a little sense -- and I use that term loosely -- of them. My closest friends would probably rearrange and add to all of this, but that's what the comments section is for. So, here, making its world debut is the "Spectrum of Terror". But I don't know how to make a timeline on this dang thing, so I'll have to improvise.
"The Lesser Evils"
These are things that might make my palms sweat, cause me to jump a little, or quickly (but quietly) suck in my breath in a gasp. They're not a huge deal and can usually be either deflected by caring friends or overcome within seconds. They are not a huge deterrent to my day.
Examples: balloons popping, deadlines, the split second that I think I've locked my keys in the car, people touching my ears, and little people (I've almost conquered this one with the TLC network. I mean -- thanks, TLC, your programming was worthwhile to at least one viewer, but, really two shows sneaking a peek at the trials and tribulations of the short-statured? Sounds like a network president with a fetish to me.)
"Knee Knockers and Quads Afire"
These are moments and things that do just what the label says... they make my knees weak, and then that feeling moves up to my quad muscles, essentially liquefying them. Recovery time is typically 2-3 minutes of sitting down and some light stretching.
Examples: getting pulled over by a cop, standing up at great heights, public speaking, walking down stairs without handrails, shopping at Sam Moon on a Saturday, and pictures of clowns.
For those of you who are somehow new to my life -- or those of you who I might have wanted to retain some sort of polite civility in our friendship --this is precisely what it sounds like. You might want to skip this one because today, I'm gonna spell it out for you. This portion of the spectrum probably covers the greatest ground for me, ranging anywhere from slightly vomitous to near-pooping of the pantalones. Prescription: lots and lots of deep breathing through the nose and mouth, a damp washcloth for my face, and possibly several minutes alone in the nearest restroom.
Examples: technology taking over the world, the possum who lives in my backyard, a clown more than a hundred feet from me, The Shining, failure, night hikes at camp with Toni the Great, confrontation, and debt collectors. By the way, if you're a debt collector who likes rainbow wigs, creepy hotels, or absurdly fancy phones, you might as well check out now. I will not confront you about it ('cause I'm afraid), but we will never be friends. Ever. I don't even know how you got on this site.
"The Bone Chillers"
Last, but not least, are the things that have never ceased to send me into a panicked state, that encompass all other levels and symptoms -- sweaty palms, shaky knees, squeals, gasping, nausea and/or possible diarrhea, loss of speaking ability, and, of course, tears. Lots and lots of tears. Full-on heebie jeebies, people. There is no remedy for "The Bone Chillers". Neither therapy nor awkward hugs nor calming reassurances will allay my fear. The only possibility for help is complete repression of the memory or total avoidance of the situation before it presents itself. These are so big that they get their own bold AND italic font. That's serious in my world.
Clowns within a hundred feet of me. Clowns are seriously effed up beings, in my mind, whose diet consist mainly of helium sucked out of balloons and toddler blood. I am convinced that behind their painted on smiles are several rows of finely sharpened teeth and a deep need to make me one of their own. I try to allow all people of the world a fair chance with me (even you, debt collectors) no matter their race, creed, or socioeconomic status. But, clowns, you made your life choice with the rubber nose and the greasepaint. I can't help you anymore.
Things that scurry (tied with) dumpsters. I do... not... like... things that scurry. They're too fast, too unpredictable. Mice, roaches, little snakes (although they technically slither), hermit crabs, etc. They completely sick me out. As far as dumpsters go, believe me, I don't get it either. Sure, they're smelly and sometimes in a dark alley, but I grew up in the country where we burned our trash and didn't even have alleys. We barely even had streets. I still don't have an alley, and now I even have curbside pick-up. But, for the life of me, every time I open a dumpster, I am sure I am going to find a dead body. My only guess is that the root of this is some t.v. show I shouldn't have been watching as a young child which therefore scarred me beyond imagination. Yet as unfounded as it is, it still doesn't stop me from taking out my cell phone, dialing 911 and putting my thumb on the send button every time I do actually have to open that creaky lid and risk encountering a leftover corpse. And at camp, there's a distinct possiblity that something (a raccoon, a mouse, a feral cat) might scurry out of said dumpster. Two fears for the price of one.
Jillian from The Biggest Loser. This is actually a pretty new one because while I've watched the show periodically, I was never as intense about it as I am now. My mom told me once that she "so wanted me to go on that show". It stung for a moment -- my own mother pointing out the fact that my fat ass needed professional help and some nationally televised humiliation to get the ball rolling, but humiliation via my mom isn't even ON the Spectrum of Terror, so it barely even fazed me. After she said it, however, I pondered her advice for exactly 72 seconds as I watched Jillian get in the face of a struggling contestant, screech so violently that some spittle flew out and landed on the poor girl's tear-stained face, and demand that this plump little chickadee examine her innermost feelings about all the sadness in her life, all while maintaing a 2.5 incline on her treadmill. I cannot examine those things in a paid professional's office, so how in the hell did my mom expect her crybaby daughter to deal with that kind of interrogation? But that wasn't even the scariest part. Suddenly, she flipped the emotional switch, shut down the treadmill, plopped that girl down, scooted up next to her, and started whispering vague encouragement in the contestant's ear. (Hellooo... were you at all paying attention to my ear thing earlier? I cannot handle that scary bitch in my ear whispering positive words sprinkled with evil.) That only lasted about 14 more seconds before she turned to another contestant, climbed up on his back like a vicious little spider monkey, and then forced him to do chin-ups for like 38 minutes straight. Now she's got her own show whereupon she rolls up to YOUR HOUSE, rummages through your pantry and emotional hidey-holes, and apparently lounges on the couch with your dad (as evidenced in the preview) while you recover from the psychological and physical trauma. I'm sure she's a lovely person with the best of intentions, but... no... thank... you. She freaks my shit out.
*This chart is intended to be merely a guideline for informational purposes, and, in no way, should be used to test the limits of my sanity or bowel strength. Unless you're looking for a swift punch in the neck, jerk face.*