You may remember my writing this post, about my fear of vampires. Well, it’s not just vampires that I’m afraid of. Vampires, are, of course, fictional (or so we’ve been told) and it is irrational for me to be worried about running into them, especially in my freezer. However, I’m definitely not known for rational thought. Besides, http://www.dictionary.com/ describes phobia as “An intense, abnormal, or illogical fear of a specified thing.”

Now, I have searched through http://www.google.com/ and http://www.ask.com/ avidly, looking for a list of phobias that will include a fear of vampires and give me the name. Can I find it? Of course not. I was able to find a phobia list that did give me the names of my other, more oh; shall we say normal, fears?

I am afraid of the following things:

Heights. Elevators. Spiral Staircases. Escalators.

On the phobia list, I found a listing for Acrophobia – Fear of heights

And you know what? The stupid phobia list doesn’t give the name for any other of my fears. There’s a stupid fear of flutes (Aulophobia) and fear of books (Bibliophobia) which is, in my opinion, the dumbest phobia in the world because books are our friends but my fears aren’t there. Dumb list. Fine. I can deal with this. Well, we’ll adjust. Part of my charm is my ability to be open to new ideas and/or make up things to fit what I want.

Bogyphobia (fear of bogeys or the bogeyman) for fear of vampires.

Climacophobia (Fear of stairs, climbing or of falling downstairs) for my fear of spiral staircases. And I guess that would work for fear of elevators and escalators as well because I am convinced that I will tumble down the escalator

Okay, anyway, the reason I’m telling you about my phobias is because I was reminded about a time that these phobias almost led me to commit homicide.

Let’s go back in time. Back to the 1980’s where hair was big, rainbow shirts and leg warmers were popular (what were we thinking?) and bands consisted of men with long hair, tight spandex outfits and makeup (well, maybe it was just the hair bands (Poison comes to mind)). If I knew how to make my scanner work, I would scan my high school year book picture for you. My hair, fortunately, was not big but this was mainly because I have always been curling iron challenged and was lucky enough to get my hair to feather. Growing it in volume to staggering heights above my head was an impossibility.

During the 80’s, I was in a lot of plays and the choirs at both my high school and my church. Quite honestly, I loved this. I have always enjoyed acting and singing. Someday I will have to do some posts about some of the mishaps that took place during the plays at the church. Something always managed to go wrong, usually resulting in hilarity.

Yes, yes, I can hear you saying “Dana, what does this have to do with phobia related attempted homicide?” Or maybe you are saying “Oh, that DM, she is rambling again. What a freak.”

So, I let you know that our story takes place on a field trip that the choir director at my church thought would be important for us to take so that we could get some culture. Phil (this may actually be his real name. I can’t remember) informed us that we would be going on a trip to Rochester, MN. This was very exciting to me because my father, well aware of my gullibility, had told me that the first two years of my life had been spent on a farm outside of Rochester in a small town named Danesville (true) and this small town had been named after me because they were so happy to have me living there (not true). By this time, I had figured out that Dad was not telling the truth about the town’s name but it was cool knowing that I was going to be traveling to a part of my past.

On the day of the trip, we all met at the church and quickly boarded the bus. It was about 2 hours to Rochester so we had to leave early. The bus ride passed the only way a bus ride filled with church choir teenagers can possibly pass, we sang annoying songs to drive Phil crazy but in perfect harmony.

During our trip, we were going to pay a visit to the Mayo Clinic and sing for sick children. We were also going to visit the Bell Tower at the Mayo Clinic. Obviously I hadn’t been paying attention when the trip was being discussed because it would have dawned on me that tower typically (or at least according to http://www.dictionary.com/) means “A building or part of a building that is exceptionally high in proportion to its width and length.”

So we go and sing for the sick children and it is very nice. I vaguely remember holding a bunny puppet while we sang “Little Bunny Foo-Foo.” I’m not sure why we chose that song. Maybe there had been a request. We wander around the tunnels under the Mayo Clinic and it is fun. I remember waving at a security camera and hearing a disembodied voice say “Yes, I can see you” and giggling with my friends as we hurried off.

Then the time came for one of the most horrible experiences I had ever had in my life. This was so traumatic that sometimes I get freaked out just remembering what happened.

The group (about 30 students) walks into the lobby of the Bell Tower building. It is here that I learn that we are visiting the actual top floor. The building is 20 stories high. This is not good.

What makes this not good is we are greeted by a tour guide who motions to the wall of elevators and suggests that we board said elevators.

Anyway, I, with a slight note of panic in my voice, ask if I can take the stairs. I was in much better shape at the time and this was before my knees got so bad that I have learned to deal with my fear of elevators rather than walk more than a flight of stairs (plus, I live on the 26th floor. I have to get used to elevators). The tour guide laughed patronizingly. “Oh, no,” she says. “We have to take the elevators up 18 floors.”

I start to hyperventilate a tad. I am freaked out. 18 floors in an elevator? No way! Couldn’t I stay on the bus? But Phil was adamant that I not miss out on this great opportunity to visit the Bell Tower. If I would have known Portuguese at the time, the word I would have been saying other my breath would have been “Sacana!”

I get on the elevator. I bite my nails. I am shaking as I watch the floor indicator move up slowly. Does anyone remember how riding an elevator would make your stomach drop? One of the reasons I have less problems with elevators now is that feeling doesn’t happen anymore but back then, I almost threw up from the feeling.

Finally, finally, the doors open. I walk out, praising Jesus. And then I see it. The torture that they expect me to deal with now.

The top floor of the Bell Tower cannot be reached by elevator. It can not be reached by normal stairs. It can only be reached by a very narrow, ancient spiral staircase. I start backing away, headed towards the relative safety of the elevators. At this point, some of my fellow choir members have begun to notice that I am acting a little less exuberant than usual.

My heroes, JB and Wynne, ask me what the problem is and I calmly explain my fear of heights, spiral staircases and elevators. Okay, so it wasn’t so calm. It was more like this. “He (pointing wildly at Phil) made me take elevator. Elevator! Scary. Heights bad. No stairs. NO. Hate spiral staircases! NO.”

They confer briefly and then tell me that they have a solution to my problem. Wynne will walk in front of me and JB will follow behind. If I fall, I can grab onto Wynne and take him and JB down with me. This makes me giggle at the thought and helps prepare me for the next step.

The next few minutes are a blur but finally, finally we get to the top. I am relieved to finally make it to my destination. After the elevators and the spiral staircase, nothing else could happen, right? Nothing traumatic or horrifying. I am optimistic for all of five seconds. Then I walked down the hallway, following my other choir members and reached the Bell room. I should be fascinated by the various bells making up the carillon but I am not. No, instead, I am transfixed by the sight before me.

That would be the large, floor-to-ceiling, window. The window that is probably also a good 10 feet wide. The window that has no glass or protective barrier or steel-plated covering over it. The window that, if I would happen to trip, I could fall through and land on the ground, smashed to bits. I stand there. I am literally frozen in fear, unable to move because I am convinced that my next step will be my last.

As I stand there, staring down, feeling the blood drain from my head and puddle in my feet, I hear the sneering voice of my teenage nemesis (I seem to attract the occasional nemesis. Obviously practice for being the Queen of the Universe), Mr. “I am so pretentious that I spell my name with an h like a popular shoe store (well, in the 80’s. Not sure if they are still around) and if you pronounce it wrong I will sneer at you because obviously the H is silent and I am very attractive and the girls love me so it just stands to reason that I be a total dick.” I am having a difficult time finding a fake name for him so we will just call him Dhom which starts with D that rhymes with T that stands for Total Dick.

Anyway, so let’s recap. I am staring out at the cruel ground, possibly suffering from vertigo, about ready to go stark, raving insane from this horrible, traumatic, deplorable experience when I hear the voice of the insensitive Dhom.

“Nice view, Dana?”

Now you may not think that this is all that awful of a thing to say to me because hey, maybe he wasn’t aware of my fear. Maybe he was wondering why I was so transfixed by the view. Maybe he wasn’t a total dick.

Yeah, well, you’d be wrong if you thought that. He had been there when JB and Wynne came to my rescue. He was completely aware of the situation. He stood there, with his evil, perfectly white and straight teeth smirking at me.

I am not quite sure what came over me but something in my brain snapped. I started walking very slowly towards him, a look of determination on my face. Fortunately, JB and Wynne were nearby and realized what was running through my mind (“Must. Kill. Boy. Must. Push. Out. Window. Die. Total. Dick. Die”). JB grabbed me and held me back, Wynne turned to the somewhat shocked looking Dhom (who started backing up the minute I started advancing on him) and told him to shut up and leave me alone. Then both JB and Wynne slowly walked me past the open window (C’mon. We’re 20 floors up. Why the hell is the window wide open) and into the area where the carillon was located, telling me the entire time that it would be okay.

After the tour was over, I was escorted back past the window, down the staircase and into the elevator without incident, just mild panic on my part. I felt extremely grateful to both JB and Wynne for getting me through that day. I am not sure that I will ever quite forgive Dhom for his comment (Well, it has been over 20 years. I suppose I can. Even though he was a total dick).

I still hate elevators but have managed to get more used to them over the years since there are more and more safety features taking place. One of the reasons that my purse is so big (briefcase size) is due to my viewpoint is that if I do get stuck in an elevator, I will calmly sit down and read my book (my purse should be able to hold at least one hardcover book) and refrain from panic. And, of course, the one time I did get stuck in an elevator, I was sans purse and got trapped between the 3rd and 4th floors of my building, resulting in panic and tears for the 15 minutes it took the maintenance staff to get me out of there.

I have not run into a spiral staircase in years, the last time was when I was living with my former friend Jake and his town home had a loft with a spiral staircase leading to the loft. His daughter left a Barbie doll on the stairs and I stepped on it, falling down the stairs. I was not horribly injured but it strengthened my resolve to stay away from them. Also, with same former friend, I watched a horrifyingly scary, suspenseful movie called “The Spiral Staircase.” No blood, no chainsaws, just a psychotic running around killing women with disabilities. It was brilliant and terrifying and filmed in black and white. I would recommend seeing it. And avoiding spiral staircases.

Right now, I would have to say that my biggest fear is still escalators. Fortunately I don’t have to deal with them that often. I always thought it was because my sister once got the heel of her shoe caught in an escalator and almost wasn’t able to pry it loose. There was also a horrible Simpsons episode where the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon showed Scratchy nailing Itchy’s paws to the escalator and then the escalator had these sharp blades and it was very traumatizing because the escalator ate Itchy. And I also discovered that my mother is terrified by escalators so I have obviously inherited this behavior from her.

As for heights, that fear came from the summer I fell off a cliff at William O’Brien state park and dangled by my fingertips until someone came to rescue me. That was the summer where my mother thought it would be safer to enroll Kari and I in summer school instead of letting us stay home by ourselves. Yeah. Safer. I fall off a cliff; I get sunstroke – that seems really safe to me.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I apologize it took so damn long to write. How about you? Any phobias you want to share, people of the Internet?

What is coming next: I was tagged by Mark to write about the five things I miss the most about my childhood. I also am planning on explaining just why I have been forbidden to play with use power tools in a responsible manner. Please let me know which one you want to read first. I am eager to please and I promise I will never attempt to throw any of you out of a window.

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