Some people are scared of spiders and snakes. Others have an aversion to heights or small spaces. Phobias can be a result of a bad experience or because of some unexplainable, obscure reason. I`m not scared of much really, I can handle creepy crawlies, and I actually love the exhilaration of being in high places, knowing that you`re one step from oblivion. But I do have a phobia.
I have an irrational fear of umbrellas. Actually the tips of umbrellas to be precise. What are they called? Is there a technical term for them, like aglets on shoelaces, or are they just called the tips of umbrellas? I tend to think of them as serving the same purpose as an aglet on a shoelace, so, thats what I`ll call them. So, once again, for the sake of this entry anyway, I have an irrational fear of `umbrella aglets` and the effect it would have on my retina if my eye came into contact with one of them at a brisk pace.
I have plumbed the depths of my subconcious to find out if I maybe I`d had a scrape with an angry aglet at some stage during my childhood. Perhaps a painful jab to my eyeball was traumatic enough for me to have supressed the experience and this in turn may`ve explained why I cringe every time an umbrella passes by me at eye level. But, short of hypnosis I`m satisfied that I`ve done enough mental plumbing, and I don`t seem to have ever had such an encounter. It appears, then, that I`m just paranoid of the little buggers.
Back home in NZ I was unaware of even having this fear, as I, nor any other Kiwi come to think of it, really used umbrellas. We just don`t seem to be umbrella people in NZ, preffering to scamper for shelter, use the eaves of shops to wait out a deluge, or simply accept the rain in all its wetness and, get wet. Umbrellas don`t fit the image of your every day Kiwi. We`re hardy people, we don`t need umbrellas.
Japanese people however, are very much umbrella people. They seem to produce them from thin air at the first sign of rain, like a magician might produce a dozen roses from up his sleeve. Umbrellas are everywhere in this country, and very much part of the Japanese person`s daily effects. When I arrived in Japan I was suddenly surrounded by umbrellas of all varieties, colours and flavours. Everyone from kindergarten kids to street vendors would be carrying an umbrella in the rain. I think it was this sudden transition from a culture with no umbrellas to an umbrella filled society that brought my phobia to fruition. The fear of getting my cornea peeled off by an errant aglet - as irrational as it is - began to give me a shiver down my spine, as my imagination took hold. Umbrellas began to look like big cats paws, with claws out ready to pluck out my eyeball and wield it, spiked on the end like an olive on a toothpick. I attempted to give each passing potential threat a wide berth by swerving my upper body this way and that as I walked down the street. It must`ve looked like I was attempting a really bad disco move each time I rolled my way past someone with an umbrella. This was never going to do, as I mentioned, everyone has an umbrella over here, and the streets - at least in the city - are far too packed with people to be attempting drunken master style moves to try and avoid umbrellas.
I toyed with the idea of trying to start a trend by putting a cork on the end of each aglet on my umbrella. Kind of like those stupid Aussie cork hats, but with corks that stayed put and weren`t dangling all over the show. This idea would have been perfect, as I remembered that scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where Steve Martin jabs himself in the eye with a cork modified fork. No real danger of losing my eyesight to a altercation with a cork, at least not a flying one. However, it was that idea itself that didn`t fly, in the end it was a pipe dream. It did however lead me to a solution, which is: as long as I carry an umbrella, I should be out of the reach of anyone elses evil aglets. The theory works perfectly; as long as everyone carries an umbrella, no one loses an eye. But I did say it was a solution, and not the solution. You see, I actually really like walking in the rain, and (as you may`ve pieced together), don`t particularly like umbrellas. I`m still a Kiwi at heart. Umbrellas aren`t for me. I`ll humour them, and use one if absolutely necessary, but I still think of umbrellas as the preserve of the posh. Nothing against umbrella users out there, that`s just my own mental occlusion.
So you see, it`s a bit of a conundrum really, either I walk with an umbrella and cocoon myself in a zone, safe from those `other pluckers`, but feel like I`m conformimg to a social norm for the sake of security (which to be honest makes me cringe nore than any angling aglet). Or, walk, as I would prefer, sans-umbrella and take my chances.
Up until now I`ve been taking my chances with those perilous barbs. Everyone needs a phobia right?
What`s your phobia? Do you avoid it, or face it? Any explicable reasons for having it in the first place?