I am typically not easily frightened. I’m not afraid of the dark, I don’t mind being home alone, and I find most horror movies to be ridiculous in their unbelievability. I am also not easily disgusted. After all, I’ve raised three sons–I’ve changed millions of nasty diapers, bandaged billions of bloody appendages, and listened to countless offensive tales (and smelled countless offensive smells) at the dinner table without ever missing a bite.
And yet there are just certain things that make my toes curl, my knees quiver, and my flesh crawl. I can’t explain these feelings, and I have no intention of delving deep into my psyche to try to find an explanation (who knows what other horrors I might find lurking there?!). For whatever reasons, these things give me the blasted heebie-jeebies!
For the most part, I enjoy attending out-of-town conferences and workshops. In addition to the obvious learning opportunities, I also appreciate having someone else cleaning my room, making my bed, and cooking my meals. I’m not afraid of staying alone (triple locks on the door are very reassuring), and I’m not intimidated by dining alone (my life is usually so hectic and noisy that I find the quiet relaxing and pleasant). However, hotel parking garages, elevators and hallways completely freak me out! Before I exit my car, I have already palmed my key ring with individual keys sticking out between my fingers (all the better to gouge you with, my dear), and as my quickened steps echo against the concrete walls I’m quite certain that every parked car is hiding a potential attacker. I breathe a little easier once I’ve actually entered the hotel, but then I’m on high alert again if someone follows me into the elevator. If that someone happens to be a man–especially a man who makes eye contact–I’m a nervous wreck, and if that man exits the elevator on MY floor, there is a very real possibility that I may wet myself before I scurry safely inside my room.
A few other things that give me the creepin’ heebie-jeebies:
- Salad bars and buffets. I used to love the temptation of an “all you can eat” extravaganza, but after spending the last several years supervising a cafeteria and watching a multitude of diners (young and old) sneezing and coughing into their hands before grabbing the tongs, I would rather pay more and get less by ordering from the menu. At least I can hope (because I have no visuals to tell me otherwise) that the cook hasn’t been sneezing and coughing into his hands.
- Limp, sweaty handshakes. I’m not crazy about shaking hands (for the same reasons as above), but I understand the importance in certain business and social settings (and that’s why I carry Germ-X in my purse, my briefcase, and my car). However, if you reach for my hand in greeting, please grasp it firmly–none of that wimpy, limp nonsense that feels like you’re just trying to wipe your sweat off on me.
- Raw hamburger. I am completely “grossed out” by the greasy feel of it squishing between my fingers and under my nails. I will gladly grill the burgers, but someone else will have to form the patties.
- Bridges. I can’t swim, and I’m guessing this is the reason that driving across any body of water makes me so jittery. If someone else is driving, I just close my eyes and count the seconds until we reach the other side, but if I’m the driver, I’m white-knuckling the steering wheel and holding my breath the entire way.
- Copperheads. I don’t mind most snakes; I understand and accept their purpose in the overall scheme of things. But copperheads are vicious and sneaky and fast, and because we have killed several over the years in our driveway and in our yard, I live in fear of the day (or night, most likely) when I step on one and feel its venomous fangs piercing my flesh.
- Unidentifiable night noises. I was sleeping dreamily, and then something sounded on the very edge of my consciousness and jolted me awake. What was it? I lay awake, hoping to hear the sound again so I can solve the mystery and return to easy slumber–and at the same time hoping the sound does not repeat itself because it may give rise to speechless terror.
- Unflushed public toilets. Enough said.
- Moldy food. It’s bad enough finding a forgotten container hiding in the back of the refrigerator so long that its contents are no longer recognizable; even worse, though, is swallowing a bite of sandwich before noticing the underside of the bread has spots of green fur.
- Seed ticks. If there is one of these microscopic buggers crawling up my leg, it’s accompanied by at least a hundred more. No matter how diligently I try to scrub them away, hours later I will still be convinced that some of them escaped my wrath and are now migrating up my back and onto my scalp.
- Wandering eyes. Every woman has experienced that creepy feeling of talking to a man–sometimes a stranger, sometimes not (but always a disgusting pig)–and realizing his eyes are no longer focused on her face but rather are brazenly surveying her anatomical landscape. A few times I have stopped talking until his focus has been re-directed, and sometimes I have even walked away, but what I have really wanted to do is forcefully ram my bony knee into a certain part of his landscape.
- Headlights from nowhere. I’m driving home late at night when suddenly a set of headlights appear in my rear-view mirror. The headlights keep getting closer and closer until they’re right on my bumper and following my every turn. I turn on to my gravel road; the headlights turn as well. I wheel into my driveway and run into my house, expecting a mass murderer to follow, but the headlights pause at the top of the drive before slowly moving on.
- Butt cracks. Can you really be so unaware of your own body that you don’t realize at least six inches of your rather large backside is on display? Or do you just not care? The rest of us do care, so please pull up your pants before sitting down in front of us (and that means you, too, purple-thong lady with the stretched-out butterfly tattoo).
So, how about you, reader? What sends shivers up your spine, makes your skin crawl and gives you the heebie-jeebies? Tell me about it …