February 28, 2003

The other day I was in an elevator and a person who got in a few floors later, a complete stranger, happened to say, "I hate these things. I’m a little bit claustrophobic." Now, I hate being a stickler for the facts, which you already know if you’ve ever had a conversation of more than ten words with me, but "a little bit claustrophobic" or "a little bit acrophobic" or "a little bit arachibutyrophobic" isn’t really something that can be classed as a phobia. These things are normal. Some people handle these situations better than others, but nobody’s really at home in a close space or up high or with peanut butter stuck to the roof of their mouth. It’s normal. If you’re really claustrophobic, you’re not going to get in an elevator in the first place.

Phobias are debilitating mental conditions that make life difficult for the people who suffer from them. Can you imagine walking around with albuminurophobia, which is a fear of kidney disease? You’d constantly have a bottle of cranberry juice with you. And how many promising telemarketers have had their careers cut short by telephonophobia? Well, obviously not enough. If there’s really such a thing as being "a little bit phobic" then just be glad you’re not a little bit thalassophobic, a little bit asphresiophobic, or logizomechanophobic, especially if you want a job. Having pupaphobia wouldn’t be such a bad thing, unless you work in children’s television, and most of us have politicophobia, but the worst would have to be euphobia–fear of good news.

The one phobia I’ve never found listed, though, is one my grandmother had: fear of watermelon rind. She would never let me eat watermelon because she was afraid I would accidentally bite off a bit of the rind, which, as you know, causes instant death. I think this fear actually belongs to a much bigger category of bizarre beliefs which I, scientific luminary and stickler for the facts that I am, have dubbed goofyophobia.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Sometimes we just need to remember what the Twelve Rules of Life really are…

1. Never give yourself a haircut after three margaritas.

2. You need only two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use the tape.

3. The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship are "I apologize" and "you are right."

4. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

5. Never pass up an opportunity to pee.

6. If he/she says that you are too good for him/her, believe it.

7. Learn to pick your battles. Ask yourself, "Will this matter one year from now? How about one month? One week? One day?"

8. When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It’s easier to eat crow while it’s still warm.

9. If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance!

10. Living well really is the best revenge. Being miserable because of a bad or former relationship just might mean that the other person was right about you.

11. Work is good, but it’s not that important. Money is nice, but you can’t take it with you. Statistics show most people don’t live to spend all they saved; some die even before they retire. Anything we have isn’t really ours, we’re just borrowing it. Except, of course, for holiday fruitcakes.

12. And finally… Be really good to your family and/or friends. You never know when you are going to need them to empty your bedpan.

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