STEVE CAMERON: These phobias are for the birds

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An earwig, the phobia of an anonymous reader.

We promised you fun.

We promised you wild phobia stories.

And we’re delivering...


A whole lot of folks don’t want to talk about their fears and phobias. Or mentioned them (briefly) in return for anonymity.

Doggone it, this could have been a bona fide hoot, especially if the reader who professed a phobia about those teeny little nightlights had explained it a little further — or responded to our email asking for just a smidgen of detail.

We’re left wondering if he/she followed tiny pale lights down the hall and into the bathroom, only to stumble across...

A boa constrictor?

A naked neighbor?



Yes, there were people admitting to phobias about heights and spiders and snakes, naturally, and a few who carried on concerning some frightening creature (more on earwigs in a sec), but very few people wrote or tweeted or posted on our Facebook page to say: “Look, I have a phobia about jellyfish, because... yada, yada.”

I joked in the column announcing this little exercise that there actually is a name for the fear of chopsticks (consecotaleophobia), and a gentleman confessed that while he hadn’t developed a full-blown phobia, he did once accidentally shove a chopstick up his nose.

It’s worth picturing.

Now, on to the matter of earwigs. Here’s the anonymous email we received about the scary garden things with those yucky pincers...

“Earwigs. Can’t stand ‘em. They’re ugly, move fast and are completely unpredictable, They’ll drop on you and appear when you least expect them.

“I do not want to undergo therapy. I am OK with hating them.

“And I realize all of this is completely irrational. They do good work in the bug world, much like spiders, which I happen to love.

“Do you know why? They eat earwigs.”

YEP, THAT punchline made us laugh.

At least that reader, who asked that her name and email be omitted, told us a little story about earwigs.

But several folks took the trouble to answer about phobias (elevators, fireworks, snow blowers, yams, and so on) without a word of explanation in addition to anonymity.

I want to know this deal about yams, darn it!

We also heard from people with fears of X-rays, black cats (sorry, Sammie), buzzing electrical appliances, oceans, neckties, anything orange, underground garages and Tasers.

Um, I imagine most of us can sign up for that last one. Looking forward to being tased seems, well... never mind, whatever floats your boat.

THE MOST thorough respondents to our survey were Carol Fairhurst (spiders) and Diana Ring (birds).

From Carol’s note: “My husband knew I was afraid of spiders, but obviously not convinced of the severity of my fear. One day he proudly brought home a baby tarantula he found in a water meter box. Luckily, he told me what was in the bag before he opened it.

“Needless to say, he never did that again.”

Diana’s tale, in part: “My mother told me that as a toddler, I had loved to collect eggs from the grandparents’ chickens. One time I was apparently pecked by an unhappy hen (starting the phobia).

“While attending college at Boise State, the science building had rows of stuffed birds down the main hallways. I could not make eye contact with any of the birds and walked in the center — as far away from both sides as possible.”

I’m assuming Diana never went to see Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, “The Birds.”

If so, she’d have cleared the theater.


Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press.


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