There are things that everyone should fear, like online dating, demonic babies and spiders living inside your ears. Sharks seem pretty terrifying, as do lobsters (and other beings that might remove chunks of your skin out by mauling, biting or pinching). Every day in New York City, I’m afraid of stepping in human poop on the sidewalk. And what if I step on a crack and actually break my mother’s back and then I have to wipe her butt as part of her daily care?
I get scared when I hear footsteps coming down the hallway – a rhythmic clip-clap of heels that I assume belong to a woman, only to see a guy round the corner in his fancy ladyman shoes. I’m definitely afraid of gout, even though I don’t really know what it is. My friend told me once that he was working at a retirement home and some poor sweet dear old lady’s UTERUS FELL OUT. I didn’t know that could happen but now I’m afraid of that too.
All of these are rational, justified fears that I think about constantly. But my number one fear in life is slightly less rational: dead bodies in the water. I can’t pinpoint when or why it started. I’m sure a psychic would tell me that I violently drowned in a past-life, my body swept away in torrent of despair and dashed dreams. A psychologist might point out that I grew up in Detroit – the murder capital of the US, surrounded by Great Lakes.
But I blame the scariest show I ever saw when I was a kid: Episode #98 of The Cosby Show entitled “Gone Fishin’”. In it (as if I need to remind you), Theo catches the dead body of a gangster while on a fishing trip. An amazing episode of family TV, it left me scared and permanently damaged.
Whenever I’m in the water, I imagine that, like Theo, I’m about to come face-to-face with a corpse – a simple brush of their dead hair against my ankles, perhaps an unexpected finger tickle as I swim by. I know they’re in there, lurking somewhere beneath the surface. Osama Bin Laden. I rest my case. But I refuse to let this irrational fear keep me from entering the water. I am so brave, it’s almost unfair.
While there are many “important” fears in life, like “will I die lonely and unhappy?” and “will I get a terrible disease and live out my days in pain?” I prefer to squash those because you can’t know what’s coming next. But if you see a body of water (not pools, although sometimes pools), there’s probably a dead person in there. I hope you see the lesson there.
Photo credit: Runner’s World