Do you have any phobias?
The latest list of phobias from Merriam-Webster contains examples of things people love, but my list is about unlovely things, more’s the pity.
I learned about triskaidekaphobia when I was doing a special feature story for the paper. That’s the fear of the number 13. Not so well-known. Mostly a big “who cares?”
But the one that I’m familiar with is the one that plagues me.
Claustrophobia. A fear of being closed up. It leaves you feeling panicky and breathless and all-around horrible. If you have it, you know. If you don’t, it’s hard to understand.
I had two spells of bad claustrophobia in one day while at a columnists’ convention in Boston. I suppose Boston is probably a pretty good place for claustrophobia.
A group of us was touring the old church in Quincy next door to Boston, where John Adams and his son, John Quincy, used to attend worship services.
We all trudged downstairs to the basement, where both Johns, and both their wives, are buried above ground in concrete sarcophagi.
The light was dim, the mood was somber, and the low ceiling began closing in on me.
I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. And I wasn’t the only one feeling the terror. We beat a path to the upper rooms.
That very same day, back at the hotel, we were all packed into an elevator, making our way back to our rooms to get ready for a big banquet.
And the elevator stopped. And stayed put. And the claustrophobia took over once again.
I started feeling desperate and saying so when one of the other delegates grabbed hold of my hand and held on tight for all the time it took to get that elevator working again.
I don’t even know who it was, but he saved my life. Or, I felt like he had.
Claustrophobia is no fun. Claustrophobia makes you feel stupid.
I even get claustrophobic pulling clothes on over my head.
I don’t like elevators. The big ones, like those at the hospital that have room for beds to be hauled in them, are OK. But some are just too little.
A friend with a two-story house offered her private elevator to get upstairs. I crawled up the stairs instead. It would’ve stifled me.
Other phobias most of us are familiar with include acrophobia, a fear of heights. I’ve known folks with this bad feeling. And it’s bad.
Agoraphobia is, I guess, the opposite of my claustrophobia. It’s a fear of public places.
Who doesn’t have algophobia, the fear of pain. I’m glad not to have autophobia, which is a fear of being alone.
Here’s another I’ll bet we all have. Dentophobia, a fear of dentists.
Another I’ve seen in practice. Hemophobia, a fear of blood.
Here’s the champion — hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. That’s a fear of long words.
Take that, you dictionary maven.