Rationalizing Our Irrational Fears
I’m afraid of death. A furry version of it.
It’s the fox on your grandfather’s mantle, face frozen in a half-snarl, half-stoner grin. The antelope mounted over that pretentious coffee bar that doesn’t even serve drip coffee. And that swollen squirrel your weird roommate kept on her desk (where did she even get that thing?).
I’m thinking about them all right now and I want to hurl.
My greatest fear is taxidermy animals. Panic attack, migraine-inducing fear, highly irrational fear. I have no idea why they scare me, but I do know this means I can never eat at a Cracker Barrel.
My mother says it started slowly and then was all at once a force. First I had no problem petting the black bear at the nature center. Then I was creeped out by the deer head mounted in the country store. Then I just couldn’t handle any taxidermy at all. Really, just like that.
I begged to stay home from class field trips to the natural history museum. Eventually we started calling ahead to make sure restaurants were clear. As a journalist in the South (God’s hunting country), I’m terrified I’ll one day walk into a room laden with stuffed heads and be unable to do my job.
I have a sixth sense about where they’ll show up (which, if you’re going to have a sixth sense, seems like a totally wasteful one), so I stay alert at any place that’s Southern-themed or old-themed or learn-about-history-themed.
But sometimes I get caught off guard. And have you ever seen a grown-ish woman panic in a general store at an Alabama rest stop?