I have a couple of irrational fears. One is that there are bugs in any new bed I sleep in (hotel beds, etc.). I always have to check before I get in. I can deal with insects normally, but not in my bed.
I’ve also developed a fear of men of a certain height with short, curly hair (this isn’t the actual truth — it’s another distinguishing feature some men have, but I’m changing details because the world is tiny). This hasn’t always been the case, and I can pinpoint the root of this fear to one summer a few years back. I had an internship, working for an intense man of a certain height with short, curly hair. It was a good job — a good jumping-off point, and I think I’ve had every job since then as a result of having had that particular one. But I wouldn’t call it fun. I would call it intimidating and scary.
Anyway, back to the development of irrational fears: Denver is actually a small town, one in which you can run into anyone at any time. It’s hard to go to certain places (like the grocery store or the park or a bar) without running into someone you know. And when you work in certain fields, the town shrinks a little more. Suddenly I couldn’t go out to galleries or exhibitions without seeing people from work. I couldn’t go downtown or to my favorite bookstore. I could barely ride the bus from my apartment to work. I mostly didn’t mind seeing people from work, but I did not, under any circumstances, want to run into the man of a certain height with short, curly hair.
Of course I rarely did. But seeing any man of a certain height with short, curly hair was enough to make my blood pressure rise, and enough to make me choose not to enter a given establishment. My friends would make fun of me for it, but they understood that it was serious. In fact, it still comes up. In a text conversation last night, for example:
Christopher: There are tons of [men of a certain height with short, curly hair] at the bar tonight. At least five by my count. I keep thinking of you! 🙂
Me: Sounds scary.
Christopher: Only if one doesn’t like them, or is scared of them.
Keep in mind that this is no fewer than four years after the summer of working for the man of a certain height with short, curly hair.
So today I went for a walk and then to Whole Foods. I was just leaving the newly remodeled produce section when I ran right into THE man of a certain height with short, curly hair. “Leslie!” he said, and there was no avoiding him, which is probably good, because he actually is really nice, and it’s probably more awkward to avoid him than it is to actually talk to him. Maybe. We talked about work, and art, and not sleeping. I didn’t even feel uncomfortable until the abrupt end of the conversation. It was fine. It’s always fine. But the irrational fear remains…