Friday, March 07, 2014

A Socratic Monologue

Who Would Live in A Hole Like This? by nembow, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  nembow 
Pssst! Come here.

Yes, you. I have something to explain. No, it's not going to hurt, I promise. Sit down, and look at me when I speak.

Here's a little mental puzzle for you. If someone tells you that they are allergic to a particular food, do you go out of your way to make sure to serve it to them when they come to your house?

"Hey, Sharon, I know you're allergic to peanuts, so make sure you have one of these peanut butter cookies that I made especially for you. Why are you crying? No, don't leave! Wait! I —" <slam>

Of course you wouldn't. You're a nice person. Relax. I'm not done, yet, though.

If you have vegan friends, do you make sure to put butter or yogurt in their food, but hide it from them until after they've tried it?

"Frank, I'm glad you enjoyed those vegan mashed potatoes that I made especially for you! I put butter and sour cream in them because I knew you'd enjoy it more. See, there's nothing wrong with . . . wait, why are you so angry with me? I didn't —" <slam>

I know, I know. It seems ludicrous to even suggest that, doesn't it? Again, you're a nice person. I like you. No, I don't think that of you. But I have another, more subtle one.

"Roger, thank you for letting me know that your daughter is terrified of dogs, but I assure you that we don't own any dogs. . . Sure, you can bring her over any time. I'd love to babysit." [later] "Well, no, those aren't our dogs; I told you, we don't own any! But I knew she was coming over, so I offered to babysit my brother's three pit bulls while he's out of — Oh, for Pete's sake, why's she screaming? Honestly, I didn't —" <slam>

I know, I know. You're shaking your head because you would never, ever do something like any of those things. You're a nice person who generally means well. But I have just one more exercise. Seriously, it won't take but a moment.

OK, imagine you've stopped at a hotel for the evening, and they don't allow pets. But you have a little chihuahua that's cute as a button and hardly ever has an accident in the house. Would you just, you know . . . ignore the hotel's rule about pets, because your chihuahua is so totes adorbz that it couldn't possibly apply to little fluffy-wuffums?

From your facial expression, I apologize for insinuating that you would ignore a sincere request just because you didn't think it applied to you. Calm down. Have a sip of water. Better?

A propos of nothing, were you aware that I'm severely arachnophobic? You know, from 'arachnid,' which means 'spider,' and 'phobos' which is one of the moons of Mars.

Ha! No, I'm just kidding. '-phobia' means 'fear.' So if you put them together, 'arachnophobia' means 'fear of spiders.' Usually given as 'an irrational fear of spiders.' Although the 'irrational' part is not the most important word in that phrase. 'Fear' is.

Yes, actually, it is a phobia, for me, and not just a 'don't like.' I 'don't like' Brussels sprouts. I 'don't like' roller coasters. I am absolutely white-knuckled, heart-rate-doubled, fight-or-flight-kicked-into-high-gear, fucking terrified of spiders. Just talking about them makes my skin crawl. If one were to actually get on me? Oh, Hell no. You wouldn't believe I could move that fast. I've actually harmed myself getting away from a small one that had the misfortune to crawl on me.

What's that? Even the little ones, yes. Those adorable fuzzy little dancing spiders that couldn't harm anyone? Yep. Freak me out only just a little less than those foot-across kinds that hunt down birds and eat them. And even things that aren't spiders but look like them freak me out. Like harvestmen or daddy longlegs or those whip scorpions. Evil, creepy motherfuckers that don't belong on my planet and need to get the fuck off it, and right now.

Oh, I know, and I'm sorry you're uncomfortable. But I do have a point. I was wondering why people who I can only guess are well-meaning — because I can't imagine anyone I actually like doing it with evil intent — post pictures or videos of spiders on their Facebook page and then go out of their way to tag me so that I have to look at the picture. Even just to unsubscribe or remove it from my feed.

I know, I can't believe anyone would do that, either, but you'd be stunned at how often it happens. Whether it's gigantic, five-inch spiders swarming with babies, perched in the corner of some unsuspecting person's bedroom, or a video of a guy trying to catch one on his bathroom ceiling using a swivel chair and a schlupperware container or an extreme close-up of a multicolored, 'cute' spider dancing for his mate, I've been forced to see them all. We will not even discuss the 'raining spiders' video.

Oh, believe me, if I knew spiders are involved, I wouldn't click the link! But it's often unsuspecting, because the person thinks it's funny to send me a link without telling me what it is. I basically don't trust links anymore.

Oh, I'm sure they do it to their other friends, as well. Like, they'll send pictures of mangled corpses to people who've recently lost a loved one in a car accident, or a movie of a clown convention to someone who's coulrophobic. Oh, look it up. I did.

Don't look so hang-dog. As I said, I'm sure that if you've done something like that, you meant well, or thought it was funny. I'm just explaining in the gentlest possible way to you — and anyone else who might also hear this — that it's not funny. And asking you to kindly cut it out. Maybe analogies will do more to help than merely asking has.

Oh, sure, you can go, now. Make sure to have one of those chocolate cookies over by the door on the way out. I absolutely promise there's nothing in them that would make you sick or swell up or run from the room screaming.

I mean, you know. Probably. I don't know what your particular . . . Wait, where are you go— ? <slam>

In all seriousness, if you ever put a spider on me, it better be the funniest thing you've ever seen in your life, because it will be the last time we ever speak. Some people actually do this to their arachnophobic 'friends.' There are videos on YouTube to prove how 'funny' it was. How do I know? Read the above.