What are you afraid of? There’s got to be something. I’m afraid of heights. So one thing’s for sure. You will NEVER catch me washing windows for a living. Or walking a tightrope. Or bungee jumping. No siree! Not even if a gun was pointed at my head.
Now zip lining. That looks like fun. It’s something I’d like to try. Of course I say that with my feet planted firmly on the ground. Whether I’d ever have the balls to do it is a whole other story. But I think it would be very cool.
Let’s see. What else am I afraid of? Needles used to do it for me. But I had to have so many different shots when I went to India I got over it. I wanted to take the trip so badly I overcame my fear. I’ll bet that’s pretty common. I think we have the power to talk ourselves into and out of most anything.
When I would have thought I’d be scared, I wasn’t. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai took place less than two weeks before I was scheduled to leave for India. There were a couple of people on my trip who wanted to cancel. They were afraid to go. I was insistent the trip go as scheduled. I surprised myself, to be honest. I sincerely had no concerns what so ever. And I was never the slightest bit nervous when we were there. Honestly.
I’m not crazy about being in crowded elevators. But is that a fear of a phobia? I actually think it’s a phobia. But then, I’m not a shrink. All that matters is, I do get on elevators, even when they’re crowded. I don’t like it. I do think about how claustrophobic it would be if we got stuck. Which, I should tell you, I’ve experienced. Years and years ago, I was the first person to get on a particular elevator. It was at 5:30 at night; and the damn thing stopped on every floor, picking up more and more people.
There I was, at the very back. We were crammed in like sardines. Which made me anxious enough as it is. Suddenly there was a shudder and we stopped moving. It took forty minutes to get us out. To add insult to injury it was winter and we were all dressed in heavy coats. When they finally got us down and they opened the door I could barely move. My legs had turned to jello.
For years I was afraid of swallowing a fish bone and choking. I lost count of how many times it happened to my grandfather when I was growing up. He always remained calm. Ate a piece of bread and everything was fine. Most of the time. Once it was a pretty big bone, and it was laying in his windpipe horizontally. So no amount of bread could push it the rest of the way down. He was beginning to sweat, I must admit. I must have been about six or seven at the time. I was visiting.
My aunt had to take him to emergency to have it removed. They got it out one, two, three. He was fine. And it never stopped him from eating fish.
It never stopped me either. I’ve always loved fish. And over the years I’ve swallowed more than my fair share of bones. And I’d always do what he did. Stayed calm and ate a piece of bread. It always worked like a charm. Until one time I was in a chinese restaurant with a friend. We were having steamed fish in a black bean sauce. It was amazing. We were eating and talking and enjoying ourselves. And suddenly, I swallowed a bone. It was pretty big, I could feel it.
No big deal, I thought to myself. Then I started coughing quite a bit. I was beginning to panic. My friend called the waiter over and asked him to refill my water glass. I asked him for bread. He looked at me like I was completely out of my mind. Have you ever seen bread in a chinese restaurant? My heart started to pound. And of course, adrenaline set in. And temporary insanity. I could feel myself choking. I was convinced my airway was completely blocked and I’d start to turn blue momentarily.
Yes, I was being a drama queen.
He was still staring at me like I was mad. His english left a lot to be desired. My chinese was non existent. So I tried to explain I’d swallowed a bone. Yeah, there I was clinging to life (a slight exaggeration) and I was playing a game of charades. Finally we got him to understand. He disappeared and came back a minute later with a plate full of lettuce.
For the moo shu pork, I presume.
This time it was my turn to look at him like he was insane. “Bread”, I kept insisting. “Get me bread”. He kept shaking his head “No”, pointing at the lettuce and smiling. I was getting nowhere. I picked up the bowl of rice, about to try that. “No”, he gestured again. And he picked up the plate of lettuce and handed it to me. I emptied my glass of water. Not over his head, which is what I would have preferred to do. I drank it. It didn’t help. My options were clearly limited. Choke or try the lettuce.
Lettuce it was.
Rolling up a piece, I popped it into my mouth, chewed and swallowed. The waiter pointed at the plate again. So I had another piece. That was all it took. The bone was gone.
Of course I still eat fish. Probably more often than I ever did before the incident. And of course I continue to swallow bones. No matter how careful you are, sometimes it’s just inevitable. But now I ask for lettuce instead of bread. If I happen to be in a chinese restaurant they just smile, say “Ahhh”, nod, disappear and come back with a plate full.
Everywhere else they look at me like I’m a lunatic and offer me a roll.