And I thought the purpose of reading self-help books was to clear confusion and not add to them!

I think I am a potential lab rat for phobia medicine makers. A few days back, my father, after having his weekly fill of self-help books (not that he needs them per se. He just likes to point out the errors in my ways of living mess with my head.)  gyan, asked me to make a list of things that scare me.

According to the author of *insert supremely corny book title that makes you cringe and wonder if the man who’s been reading this really is your biological father*, once you know your fears you are ready to face them head on. He only forgot to mention that this book is only for normal, non-freaky people whose fears are keeping them from achieving things like a promotion or a girlfriend (read: book is only for people who can’t get a girl on their own.) and good advice and a boost of confidence are all it takes to help them make it. But it is not for people whose fears are not normal fears but phobias afflicting a borderline psychotic.

So one fine morning my dear poorly misguided father called me out of the blue and handed me a pen and a paper and asked me to jot down whatever scares me and told me that after this we’d go about tackling them. Making my life easier than I can ever make it and in the process, dissing everything I do or think as frivolous and abnormal is my father’s vocation and arguing with a perennially paranoid father isn’t exactly one of my strong suits so I decided to play along.

I sat down and started writing whatever scares me and then it struck me-none of these fears would ever keep me from achieving whatever I want; the worst they can do is keeping me from being accepted by a normal, semi-intelligent society which sometimes has a surprisingly narrow umbrella of what is considered normal. When I showed him the list, he simply sulked and muttered something like ‘not taking anything seriously…future looks bleak..’ and before he could start one of his trademark ‘you young people’ speeches I escaped. As if things weren’t bad enough that my confidence in my sanity has taken a major hit that he had to make things worse!

Now the list. Of all the coolest, genuinely scary things I could be afraid of, I chose the lamest- the ones which I can’t even tell people if I want them to ooh and aah over my fears; only reaction I can manage to get is abject sympathy; as if I am one of god’s special little broken toys, damaged in different levels.

For instance, I am scared of soft toys. Teddy bears to be more precise. I wasn’t born with this fear but twenty one years and two thousand horror movie nights later every teddy bear I see seems to be the reincarnation of that Sadako girl. Go ahead mock me but hear me out. Teddy bears have beady eyes which always seem to laugh at you like they’re enjoying their pet jokes at your unwitting expense while you’re completely in the dark about it. They are so comfortable; maybe that’s how they trap you. (no I don’t have persecution mania though I know there’s no part of this conversation where I am sounding normal. )And I have this nagging feeling that when I go to sleep they will come down and one by one plonk their fat butts on my chest and suffocate me to death. Or worse, start going around me playing ring-a-ring-a-roses. Can you imagine how creepy that is?

So the stuffed toys in my room left me with no choice but to evict them from my room to my parent’s room. Now there isn’t much space in my parent’s room and adding to an already difficult situation is the fact that even when I was in the womb, my mother made a pact with the devil that did not make her genetically wired to make life easy for me. So she decided to put them back in my room. Given that she has a mommy gland which works overtime, she thought that arranging the toys near my head, in the middle of the night when I am dead asleep would be a loving gesture which I would appreciate. The spirit was appreciated but the timing was not. So at 2 in the night I woke up to go to the loo and had a mini heart attack when I saw Anakin, Luke, Yoda and Obi Wan smiling a benign (read creepy) parent-y smile at me. (and yes I have given all my toys my favorite Star Wars people’s names.). The next morning she kept ribbing me all the time and drove me into a frenzy worrying how weird I am. The day ended with a royal shouting match which ended with one of my mother’s classic ‘you leave and I clear up after your mess’ speeches.

Then you have McDonald toys, Disney villains, spiders, reptiles, amphibians, any spineless creature literally or otherwise, especially jellyfish and sea animals, dolls, dominance, lack of space, ventriloquist dummies, turtles with supremely ugly feet etc. I think dolls spy on us; they are too sweet and nice and bright cute shiny happy to be actually nice. I think they watch us.

Hit me dolls are worse. They take all your blows with a smile and keep coming up for more as if it’s all a game for them. As if they feed on making you mad at them for smiling their obnoxiously sugarcoated creepy smile every time you punch them. (I am telling you-anyone who’s scared of dolls and has problems dealing with unchecked aggression can use a little bit of help from a hit me doll).  I am told that when I was small I used to get mad at my hit me doll whenever it bounced back and punched it as if my life depended on it. Sea animals are stupid and don’t have a brain and they crawl. Anything that crawls gives me nightmares enough to last a lifetime.

In retrospect, I am surprised that I have never been  scared of clowns. I think I find clowns  human. Very distorted. Very very. But human still. Something tangible. Something sad. Not pity inducing sad. Just plain sad. The kind that strikes you with awe but leaves you feeling…well, sad, for the lack of a better word.

So you see how difficult it is for a smartass overachieving obnoxiously full-of-himself self-help book author to help me overcome my fears. My fascination with the macabre combined with my cinematic imagination are to blame (not that I am complaining. It is my father in the first place who had it out for me.) So I sought to dispel his misgivings.

YT: I am really okay. I don’t need this. I can figure things out on my own.

F: that can’t be. Every person has issues that needs to be taken care of.

YT (mentally): has it ever occurred to you that I have the skin of a rhino, the attention span of a two year poodle and that I am the emotional equivalent of  a Simpson?

(loudly): not everyone has them

F: so you think you are perfect? (dirty judgmental condescending looks)

YT: I didn’t say that.

F: so you agree that you have issues? ( dirtier, judgmental-ier, condescending-er looks)

YT: I didn’t say that either.

F: this is the problem with you people. You are so confused.

YT: (mentally): what bad karma on my part has given you the right to screw with me on a Sunday morning?

And we carried on with this conversation for the next twenty minutes, me not following after 5 minutes and not caring much and him, well, being himself.

Seems I am not the only member of the Adam’s family. He can be the movie version of Wednesday to my Pugsley. Tell me you agree. Humor me. I am damaged and need help, remember?


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