Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What Scares You? Reds Confess.


Well, I've managed to survive another Halloween! I have survived weeks of all the old movies on TV being horror, of everyone else saying what fun they have had in haunted houses and even walking through a drug store and having a coffin suddenly open beside me and a hand coming out! Confession: I'm a wimp. I do not like to be scared. The only horror movies I've ever tolerated were the "Giant killer tomatoes swallow New York" variety. Anything to do with noises in the cellar or possessed dolls and I'm out of there. If I saw something like that I'd wake at every creak of my house for weeks.

So I guess I'm a scaredy cat. I was even trying to come up with a Halloween costume that didn't require a lot of work and thought of draping a fake spider's web over my hair with a fuzzy spider clinging to it. Tried it in the store and couldn't do. I knew the spider was fake. I could hold it in my hand and see it was fake. But the thought of a big black spider on my head was simply too much for me.
Another confession: I'm scared of spiders. I know they are good for our environment. If I find one in the bathtub I put a glass over it, slide a piece of paper under the spider and carry it out to be released in nature. So you see I'm good and humane. But my hand is shaking all the time. I did this rescue once when my friends and I rented a house in Sedona, AZ. Big spider on the ceiling. I tipped him into a glass, carried him out and released him into the creek. Then a friend showed his picture to our jeep tour guide. "Oh my God. That was a brown recluse," he exclaimed. I had had one piece of paper between me and the most venomous spider in the US!  And I was once in the Outback in Australia and went to the loo. As I shut the door and sat on the seat I watched a HUGE huntsman spider come and sit on top of the door. You know, the kind of spider that kills mice? And I knew if I tried to open that door it would drop onto my hand. I contemplated spending the rest of my life in that loo. Waiting for the spider to die of old age or get hungry and go hunting elsewhere. In the end I moved my hand oh so cautiously toward the latch, lifted it, moved the door inch by inch and then ran like hell, all the time imagining that the spider was now sitting on my back!

So good reason to be scared of spiders. But I'm also scared of moths. I don't like the way they flutter about. I met a black moth with a twelve inch wing span in Mexico once. We had seen it flying around the gardens and then the kids announced it had flown into our condo and into my bedroom. I laughed. "Nice try." Then I pulled back the drapes and....... it flew into my face. So good reason to be scared of moths too.

And I'm scared of the dark. Too vivid an imagination, I suppose, and growing up in a big old house that was definitely haunted. But I'm not scared of snakes, or heights, or even clowns. Bad reviews? Maybe. People hating my next book? Definitely.

So now it's your turn, Reds. What are you scared of?

HALLIE EPHRON: The dark. Seriously. Going into a cave with no flashlight, or even with one freaks me out. Walking in a forest in the dark. No thank you.

Spiders? Not so much. We have so many, and the ones in the house are usually smaller than a nickel and as far as I know they're not poisonous. I just scoop them up and take them outside where they can feast on mosquitos and flies. Love their webs. Except when I walk into one in the morning. Ick.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Huh.. That is such a good question. Crazy drivers, driving at night on highways.. I can imagine all kinds of horribleness. I can kind of handle spiders, though I really hate walking through a spider web.  I am not fond of centipede and millipedes,  either of which send me screaming from the room. Oh, and those waterbug things.  Dark streets, sure. But that's..just common sense.

The thing I am most afraid of is being surprised. If someone leaps out at me, I freak.

And I always think the garbage disposal is going to grab my hand somehow.

I am also inordinately afraid of food poisoning. If food is slightly off, or even might be, I toss it. Does that count?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm with you on the horror movies, Rhys. I've never understood why people like them. Can you believe I've never even seen Psycho??? Not afraid of spiders, or snakes (except sensibly.) Or bats. I don't get clowns, either, but I'm not afraid of them. I am, however, more than a bit claustrophobic. I don't like being packed in with bunch of people, and I don't like being underground. So you can see why I take the bus whenever possible in London. Rush hour on a packed tube train in a deep tunnel is not my idea of fun! And I always think, "What if the train stops and we're stuck here????" Which happens often enough that it's not pure paranoia...

LUCY BURDETTE: No, no I don't like to be scared either! When talking about movies they enjoyed, my family will often add "but not for you, too violent, or scary, or pick your adjective..." Rhys, when we were preparing for our trip to Australia, I started reading Bill Bryson's IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY. I had to stop partway through because of all the poisonous creatures he was describing. Did you read BLIND DESCENT by Nevada Barr? Her character had to go into deep, narrow caves, and so Barr did this to prepare for writing. Not for me--I'd have to switch to a different plot.

Debs, I don't like being in a crowded elevator either--I think being short is a disadvantage here because all you can see are the bodies pressed in around you. And I don't like highway driving either--too many crazies going way too fast and not leaving nearly enough room.

RHYS: Oh yes, Lucy. I agree about Australia. When I took my kids there for the first time my daughter Anne read out loud on the plane about every kind of lethal creature so that her siblings were freaked out when we went for a walk in the Bush. And I'm not really claustrophobic but like Hallie can't watch movies where divers have to squeeze through submerged caves.

But I don't have a fear of the garbage disposal. Pfew. However I now realize I am scared of the shower. I always worry about turning off the cold first and getting scalded or turning off the hot and getting frozen. What a bunch of neurotics we are. OR ON THE OTHER HAND, we are simply gifted with overactive imaginations, which is what we are such stellar writers!

So now it's your turn. What are you scared of?


  1. Well, I don’t like spiders, snakes, or the dark, either, and horror movies are not my idea of fun. As for clowns, they’re just downright creepy.
    Scary is being alone or lost in a strange place or crushed in a crowd. Driving at night or over a great distance is simply petrifying . . . .

  2. Great topic. I can't do scary/horror movies, either. I am most scared of something happening to either of my sons, even though they are well-launched adults. I'm also scared of being trapped in somewhere dark and close, like a tunnel or a cave. I don't even like to close curtains or wear turtlenecks!

    Oh, and I can't, I mean CANNOT, walk on grates. If you walk with me in a city, I'm always swerving around the grates in the sidewalk. What if they fall through? At least where I live there aren't any, because we don't have subways or subterranean anything. Once 18 years ago when I was training for the Boston Marathon, I ran the Three State Twenty Miler, which started in Kittery, Maine, and ended in Salisbury, Mass. At the very beginning we had to run over a bridge over the river by Portsmouth (Piscataqua?) - which was ALL GRATE. I freaked out. A very kindly older man talked me through it with him. I almost had to quit before I began!

  3. Not a fan of scary movies, and Hank, yes, me too with the garbage disposal. Glad not to be alone with that.

    Not much else scares me. Yes, wait, flying palmetto bugs. Huge roachlike things with wings that dive bomb you at night outside. UGH. Fear, I run screaming from them--like they care. Someone told me they live in palmettos, hence the name, don't know, don't care and if one ever got in my house, I'd die of fright.

  4. I used to like horror movies before but now I can't watch them, or maybe I don't want to scare myself at night. I'm scared of dark, because I will think about what is hiding around the corner, I'm the kind of people in horror movie, although I'm scared but if I heard a noise at night, I will wake up and go to see it :p
    I'm scared of snakes, ghost and mysterious things, what I'm trying to face with.
    Bugs and spider can't scare me :D that's why I'm always the one who deal with them when they appear in my room.
    Gmail sign in

  5. When I was a kid, those movies where someone fell into the quicksand and you got to see their hand finally slip through the surface used to freak me out! I don't like unenclosed heights like those huge steep outdoor escalators in train stations and airports. I'm like Edith when it comes to grates. And little machines like flat irons intimidate the hell out of me. Fear is just so irrational and sometimes paralyzing.

    I'm a big fan of the late Fred Rogers, whose wisdom works for kids of all ages. I wear a bracelet every day with one of his quotes. "You can never go down the drain." It helps.

  6. Well, I was permanently but happily traumatized by twilight zone, and grew up loving that, and then the other limits.
    But thanks so much, Rhys, just what I needed this morning, pictures of spiders. :-)
    I am off to Delray Beach, and then tomorrow Vero Beach, any jungle Reds in the area? Love to see you all! And I will pick a winner from yesterday very soon!

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  8. Ha, Kait, we do get Palmetto bugs in our house sometimes in Texas, and that is the one bug that will make me scream. I don't know why they're so creepy--they don't hurt you--but they are! My husband tells a story about a time when he lived in Hawaii for a few months, and the Palmetto bugs would run over him at night while he slept. Ack!!

    I'm not too bothered by grates, but I don't like driving on high bridges or overpasses--gives me vertigo and makes me feel panicked. Glad I'm not the only one!

  9. Well, I wasn't sure I could finish reading the blog today because of the hundred pictures of spiders! They terrify me, and have terrified me ever since I had an allergic reaction to spider bites as a child. Very painful. I don't want a repeat of that! I do my best to kill them or get someone to kill them for me. I do not believe in releasing them. They're potential killers!! A couple of weeks ago while I was sitting on the couch and reading I saw something running towards the couch from behind a bookcase. It was a huge spider. It was behind the couch before I had a chance to find a killing implement. I got out the vacuum cleaner and hoped that the monster spider would crawl out from the couch so I could suck it up. If it stayed behind the couch I was afraid I'd have to move. It soon began to run back out and it took me a couple of attempts but I was able to suck it into the vacuum cleaner. Then I was afraid it would crawl out if I tried to empty the canister. That happened to my brother and sister-in-law! Actually, I'm afraid of all creepy/crawly stuff.

    I don't like driving in strange cities and am beginning to dread driving at night anywhere, thanks to cataracts.

    Walking alone in parking garages, especially at night. It always seems like such a LONG walk!

    I've never learned to swim because I'm afraid of the water. The closer it gets to my face, the more I feel like I might black out!

    Deb Romano

  10. Oh, Michele - whatever happened to quicksand? It's got to still be out there, swallowing people up, and yet no one uses it as a plot point.

    So funny after Rhys posted the stem for this blog I was moving my house plants (crawling baby alert!) and of course there were webs and then a HUGE spider (seemed like it was the size on a dinner plate but actually it was more like a quarter) scooted across the floor. And I just watched it. Now whenever I look over in that corner of the room I imagine the spider there, waiting for me. Or the baby. Please, don't tell my daughter.

  11. One of the best Facebook memes ever: I always thought quicksand would be a bigger issue in my life. Or something to that effect.

    Edith, my dad was the same about grates, as well as those sidewalk basement entrances that you almost never see these days. He would step into the street if he had to so as to avoid walking on them. I'm really, viscerally affected by heights, and could no more walk on one of those high glass bridges than I could jump over this house. Even a glass elevator in Chicago freaked me out. Ironically, one of my daughters is ranked #6 in American women climbers. How did that happen?

    I used to worry about something happening about my kids, but all three daughters have been tearing off into the wild blue yonder since they were young teens, and I've built up a bit of a callous over the fear. One climbs, but she also runs in the Rockies alone, and she went to Alaska on a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) trip for a month of backpacking, and she spent nearly a year alone, gadding about Europe in a travel van she bought there. My youngest lived in Australia for five months when she was 19, and while she was there traveled all over the country alone, and then went by herself to Thailand for two weeks, ending up staying with strangers in Phuket. I didn't even know about it until she was back at school. And of course she's the one who went to the Citadel, where she was the only woman on an entire floor of the barracks. You just have to get over being afraid, at some point, or you go mad.

    I am scared of water in which the bottom is invisible, and/or I can't touch it. I'm a very poor swimmer, and panic very easily in those situations, which makes things worse, of course.

  12. I'm not fond of spiders - or any bug with multiple legs. I mean, I know spiders are good for the environment and me. I'm glad to leave them in the dark corners to do their job. But if they come out in the light... Rhys, I got a call from the school nurse saying my son might have a brown recluse bite (they are rare, but possible, in Pennsylvania). But it was just an irritated zit.

    Not overly fond of scary movies, either. I did watch the original "Carrie," which used to freak me out, but no modern ones with the creepy dolls, or houses, or whatever. Shudder.

    My girl is afraid of bridges. I told her she's living in the wrong city for that.

  13. Haden, you've touched on any parent's biggest fear-the safety of their children. When my kids were in high school and driving I would sit in the window, listening for the sound of their car coming up the hill. And when they were in college and went into the city to clubs I'd be awake until they came home in the wee hours of the morning. And my imagination was running riot all that time.

    And Debs, when we lived in Texas we had wood roaches--huge, giant cockroaches that ran across the ceiling and dropped. Ugghhh. And if you stamped on them they made a horrid splatting sound. One of the good things about California--no bugs.


  14. I don't like horror movies, but don't mind scary, psychological tension-type movies. (Although I may not sleep for a few days afterward!) I just don't like blood and gore or anything really disturbing that I need brain Brillo to get out of my thoughts.

    I dislike spiders, although I have gotten a little better about them. I will kill smaller ones, but like Rhys, I trap the bigger ones with a cup and paper and release them outside. It's not so much to be nice to them, but I can't stand the thought of the crunch and mess of killing a bigger one. Yuck! And we don't really have poisonous ones here, so that's not an issue. The thought of that wolf spider, Rhys, makes me re-think ever wanting to to go Australia. I think I would have been severely traumatized for a long time after that!

    I'm not particularly fond of bridges, but I don't usually let it bother me much. I live on the Cape, so have to accept bridges or be stuck here all the time. LOL. There's a bridge in Maine that's all grating, and you feel like you're slipping from side to side when you drive over it. It feels extremely treacherous when it's icy.

    I'm more than a little claustrophobic. I have to distract myself in elevators, or I'll start obsessing about being stuck in them. I hate long flights and need to have an aisle seat. Whenever I drive to Logan, I pray there's not a lot of traffic, because the fear of being stuck in miles of tunnel terrifies me. I also CANNOT do an MRI on any part of the body above the knees. I've tried. Even the one on my ankle I barely got through.

    And don't get me started on caves! It's not so much the claustrophobia, it's that I hate how the inside of some caves look. All white and pink and drippy, like the inside of intestines or something gory like that. *shivering* I know they're supposed to be beautiful, but I don't see it. And they're so icy cold!

    Sorry about the long post. It would make it seem like I'm a very nervous person, but I don't let any of it interfere with my life, so that makes it all normal. Or so I tell myself. *g*

  15. Right now, my biggest fear is the outcome of this sorry election. I suspect I'm not alone.

  16. I honestly don't see the fun in scary movies and I never did. I always thought the Twilight Zone was too creepy too. Of course it was meant to be but I agree, that all this is about the imagination kicking in. Some ideas and images stay and stay.

    So glad to read others sharing that!

    And to be honest, snakes. I decided, as an actual adult, I could stop pretending to be mature...and I began refusing to visit the zoo reptile house.

    My fear of deep water, however, is completely rational. I am a terrible, terrible swimmer, even after years of Girl Scout camp and mandatory college swimming classes.

  17. Not ghoulies nor ghosted nor wee sma beasties nor things that go bump in the night. Nope, not me.
    I am terrified of MRIs. So much that I have to be sedated, and then Julie has to sit by me and hold whatever body part is sticking out of the tube.
    All because onecevi opened my eyes in there and had a panic attack.

    And I am just as terrified of next Tuesday.

  18. Yes. I fear the election results!

    And rodents.

    And the garbage disposal grabbing my fingers. (Hank, I thought I was alone on this one.)

  19. I'm definitely with Karen from Ohio on the election phobia. Please just let it be OVER.

    Beyond that, I'm more afraid of snakes than spiders, but not by much. Especially big spiders. Yikes! Clowns are weird, but I'm not really scared of them. The dark doesn't scare me except when I'm outside at night and hear strange rustling. We have coyotes now and I don't care to meet one up close and personal.

    Also, for the record, I'm NOT afraid of heights. I am terrified of falling. If there's a solid railing or glass, I'm happy to take in the most dizzying view. Put me on the edge of a cliff with nothing to hold onto and I'm a wreck.

  20. Spiders don't really bother me much, but I don't like the bigger ones running around my house. I just recently saw a large one in the guest bedroom and majorly failed at killing it. It ran under the chest, which is too heavy for me to move by myself. So, I got a couple of the large sticky pads and shoved under the chest in hopes of thwarting the spider's entry into the rest of the house. I haven't checked them yet. I certainly don't scream or jump when I see a spider, and I don't need someone else to take care of it for me. I guess I should be more humane and take the spiders outside instead of squishing them. Something for me to think about.

    However, there is no way that I'm going to do anything but kill a cricket when I see one. I abhor them. Of course, with my sticky pads I put out, I am pretty successful with not having to deal with them. Now, mice can drive me screaming crazy. Living by a field, we are certain to have some coming in from the cold, and although I don't often see one, it scares me plenty when I do. Snakes don't seem to push my terror button, but I've only had an encounter with a small garter snake, which was crawling up my pants leg. I brushed it off before I knew what it was. Not sure how I'd do with big bad snakes.

    The one terror producing certainty with me is heights, and heights over water seem to be particularly scary. So, walking across a bridge is usually a negative for me. However, if the width of the walking area is such that I'm not looking down at the water, I can sometimes do that. The Rainbow Bridge between Canada and the United States was doable, and the Arlington Memorial Bridge in D.C. is fine. Both have large sidewalk areas for pedestrians, and the Memorial Bridge is not too high. I've read that the Memorial Bridge might become a foot bridge only in five years if major repairs aren't made to its crumbling problem.

    And, speaking of bridges, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland is often billed as one of the scariest bridges in the country. It is one of the longest over-water structures in the world at 4.2 miles. I have ridden across the bride and did fine, but there is actually at least one service that will take people who are terrified of driving it across the bridge. I saw a segment on TV about this service a few years back, and people who have to use the bridge to get to and from work, and are terrified of driving it, are happy to pay someone to get them across.

  21. This is great -- jungle red bloody murder mystery writing talking about what scares them!! I will make myself unpopular, but I am afraid of dogs. Not my dog or your dogs but the ones off leash who rush toward me, while their people tell me how sweet they really are.

    I don't love parking garages, especially underground. But mostly I am not afraid of much.

  22. PALMETTO BUGS! Ahhhhhhhhh the WORST. They're so..flimsy. And fast.

    Just arrived in Florida.. the weather is so soft here! And I saw AIr Force 2 in at the airport. Maybe the Veep is coming to my event at Murder on the Beach tonight! .

  23. Large crawling, climbing bugs that might chase me. In Bali, I had a similar experience to Rhys's - bathroom looked so pretty, open air at the top, jungly vines with flowers...and a huge, skinny (hungry?) spider just sitting up there looking down at me.

    Deb, I have never seen the part of Psycho that comes after Janet Leigh starts screaming!

  24. Densise Ann, as a dog lover and dog owner, I completely agree with you! Being rushed by loose dogs is very scary (my mom fought a lifetime fear of dogs because of an incident like that in her childhood.) We've had a lot of loose dog/biting incidents in our neighborhood lately, and I'm particularly nervous when walking one of my big dogs, because a dog attack can get person AND dog hurt badly.

    As for the garbage disposal, my grandmother actually sliced off the end of a finger pushing things down the disposal, and I've been terrified of them ever since.

    This has been the most comforting post, to find that other people worry about the same things.

    And Kathy, I would pay someone to drive me across a bridge like that!

  25. Hank, I think the VEEP should come to your event!! Much more fun than the political stuff:-)