You ever have really weird things that give you panic attacks?


When I was in elementary school, I was convinced that if I didn’t zip up my pants, wash my hands, and get physically out of the bathroom before the flushing toilet stopped flushing…something dreadfully, terribly, unspeakably horrible would happen to me or my family in the next 24 hours.

We’re not just talking a skinned knee here or there.  I was thinking thinks like sudden death, abduction by the mob, stepping on a land mine and other age-appropriate horrors.


When I was in junior high, I had the thought that perhaps everyone around me saw color in a completely different way.  I’m not talking just a shade or two lighter or darker than my version of things. I see dark green, you see a slightly darker green.  Psh.  No.

I thought things like, “What if the color that I think is green, really is someone else’s yellow?  But we both call it green because that’s what people told each of us to call that particular color.”

Then it got really crazy.  I started wondering if what I saw as transparent, other people saw as purple mist.  Or what if what I saw as polka dots, other people saw as stripes?!  But we just called them the same things?!?!  Then it became:



These sorts of early-teen, metaphysical, existential thoughts would suddenly seize me between classes or at the grocery store.   I would feel like the universe was about to squish my little brain violently into a blob the color of which I no longer knew a word for because words and colors and thoughts were meaningless (you see?!?!).

It made me want to run away and live in a cave about twice a year.


Now I’m only sneaker-terrified of normal things.   Someone taping a needle to a toilet seat I’m about to sit on (what is with me and toilets?).   Or, that if I stay in someone’s blind spot for more than .0000002 seconds they’re going to run me off the road and over a cliff.     Or, that when I’m hiking out to my research marshes I’ll trip and get impaled by a friendly stick and no one will find me for four days–variations on that theme.

And spiders.



Filed under Funny Story

8 responses to “Terror

  1. danosaur

    Oh, you make me laugh. I actually had that EXACT SAME color-is-relative thought in junior high and I was convinced I was some genius for thinking it up. Another head-crushing metaphysical thought was that I was the only person who would ever have my thoughts or hear my own voice in my head and that I was the only person who would ever know what it was to be me. Whoa.

  2. Pinto


    Thanks a lot, Dani…sheesh.

  3. I actually get those now that the boy is born.

    “But if I go outside, maybe a branch will fall off that tree and hit the stroller and kill the baby!”
    “But if I go to the store, what if I get run over in the parking lot and Hyrum falls out of the stroller and gets fried on the asphalt!”
    “But if I take him to see my friend, what if I touch the kitchen sponge and get e coli and then he gets it through my breast milk and dies!”

    I really should write a post about this. Some of my new mom fears have been epic.

  4. Teryn

    I had the same color thought!

    Now, I have one similar to Laurie. What if I get hit by a car while taking my shopping cart back to the corral and nobody knows that my boys are already in the car. What if they are left there because nobody knows they exist! (I can be seen sprinting back to my car on a regular basis, though now that I think about it, that probably INCREASES my chances of being hit- Eeeek!)

  5. Pinto

    Dani: You also have the issue with small round objects, if I remember right.

    Laurie: Oh man, when we have kids I’m going to win the Overactive Terror Imagination Achievement Award.

    Teryn: That’s hilarious. I want to hear more! (It makes me feel more normal)

  6. danosaur

    I DO have an issue with small round objects, though thankfully it’s largely under control. I’ve been thinking about this question for the past few days and I finally realized that I’m terrified that someone is going to sue me or otherwise confiscate the things I think I own or have a right to. Like, one day my landlord is just going to show up and say, “Yeah, you may live here now, but this place is ours and so we’re going to sue your guts out because there are dead patches on the lawn!” Or that we will buy a house and it will get taken by imminent domain for a freeway or something. Or that I will get arrested for allowing my newborn to sleep on her stomach rather than forcing her to sleep o her back, or that a police officer will pull me over for some obscure, unknowable reason…fear of litigation and scary government authorities reaching into my personal life, I guess. Yikes.

  7. danosaur

    I know this post is old, but I’m also terrified of having my car stolen from parking lots. We often park…creatively…to avoid paying for parking, so any time we leave an event and my car is still there I feel a flood of relief.

  8. Pinto

    Dani: Keep them coming! I have a new one from today. I became convinced that the dog I was walking was going to walk right over an ocean cliff and, since she was wearing a choke collar, she would essentially hang herself if I tried to pull her back up.


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