When we were kayaking a couple of weeks ago, Willow and I got into a conversation about snakes. I mentioned that I had a fleeting irrational worry that one would fall into my boat from the trees above me. It wasn’t a very likely scenario. But the conundrum is, if a snake falls into your boat, do you a) stay in the boat and try to rid it of the snake, or b) dive into the water, where there might be other snakes? I told her I wasn’t actually afraid of snakes; this was just an academic question, really.
I do know several people who are terrified of snakes; also one who is terrified of millipedes, one who is terrified of elevators, one who is terrified of being murdered in the shower, and really, aren’t all normal people afraid of clown dolls? I told Willow I could remember things I’ve been afraid of at different points in my life, for one reason or another: panthers (that had something to do with Little House on the Prairie,) scorpions (saw one in Ranger Rick magazine,) vampires (Stephen King’s fault,) the bogeyman (Stephen King’s fault,) and people on public streets who dress up like statues and want you to throw money at them.
“What are you afraid of now?” asked Willow.
“Handsome men in bars. Oh, and the Yeti.”
Willow has seen me blush and look at my feet when presented with a handsome man in a bar, so that needed no explanation. The Yeti? I didn’t have to think about the fact that it freaks me out, but it didn’t sound flat-out crazy until I tried to explain it to Audrey later.
“It’s because he’s so terrifyingly lonely, and sad, and wild, and misunderstood.”
“I do not like where this is going,” said Audrey.
I decided, after some reflection, that I am not projecting emotions on the Yeti. I am not any of those things, personally. But I was the child who couldn’t watch Bambi, or Lassie, or Benji, or any other movie in which there was the slightest chance I’d have to see an animal suffering. Do not even get me started on Where the Red Fern Grows. To this day I will not see a movie featuring an animal. You may keep your Seabiscuit. You may keep your War Horse. I can’t bear to watch. I’m terrified that I will see some poor creature in pain, and I will be helpless, and it will break me.
In a related story, I have just been given the miraculous gift of a vacation which I did not see coming. It was a serendipitous collision of a rapidly expiring flight credit and one free week in the work calendar. I am going to Maine, because I can. Nay, because I must! It’s on the Life List. Having only two weeks to plan, and a tight budget, it’s definitely my best option: there’s a National Park, and I can pitch a tent for $20 a night. Wilderness. Lighthouses. Rocky coastlines. Camping in the Maine woods. Solo.
I booked the ticket yesterday. It wasn’t until I was at my desk today that I processed the decision I have just made. Not the Maine part. The solo camping part. When I told my coworker about my trip, she offered to bring me hiking maps. “‘Course, there will be blackflies. You have to be prepared for blackflies,” she said.
Damnation. I had not even thought of being afraid of blackflies, until I looked them up and instantly regretted it. I have done some thinking, and have had to add a few things to my current list of fears. They are, pretty much in order:
1) Handsome men in bars
2) The Yeti
4) DEET poisoning
5) Falling off a rocky cliff while hiking
6) North country axe murderers
8) Swerving off a rocky cliff while driving
9) Shivering in a sleeping bag
10) Accidentally bankrupting myself on unplanned vacation
11) Dying alone as an elderly spinster in a house full of cats. I effing hate cats.
I made this list on my Iphone today, operating under the theory that spelling out your fears makes them less frightening. I’m not entirely sure it worked. Fears 3 and 4 will either cancel each other out, or compound each other. I’m actually reasonably cautious, so Fears 5 and 8 are not that likely. Fear 10 will only really be a concern in the event of a Fear 7, when I’d have to get a hotel room. I’ve done Fear 9 before, and lived to tell about it. I will presumably someday overcome Fear 1 and then Fear 11 will not be an issue, and, well, let’s hope there’s a crowd at the campground to fend off Fear 6.
As for Sasquatch: Audrey decided that, if he’s wild and sad and lonely, I should invite him to my campfire, and offer him a marshmallow, and we’ll talk it all out, and we can have a good cry and I’ll send him away with a hug. She said it much more poetically than that; she’s a writer, after all. But I love that idea.
Like that quote that keeps running through my head lately: You never get over your fear. What you get over is the fear of being afraid.
This is going to be fabulous. Yeti and all.