I, personally, have no phobias. I know, I’m lucky. I have a few insecurities, a couple of hang-ups, a number of eccentricities – who doesn’t?
But so far I’ve managed to avoid the terrors of phobic disorders. You could say I’m pretty-well fear-free.
The Girl – not so much. She has one dread that’s shadowed and terrorized her all her life:
Yes, you read that correctly. And before you go Googling to see whether I’m referring to some deadly triffid-like species of cymbidium native only to New Zealand, I’m not. I’m referring to those cutesy little purple/pink/white flowering plants with the fuzzy gray/green leaves and the short, satisfyingly snappable stems; those tightly-packed rosettes of wooly foliage you find tucked away in the dusty recesses of old ladies’ living rooms.
These seemingly innocuous bundles of sweet, huggable greenery have been the bane of my life.
And for a girl with impaired eyesight, it’s incredible how she spots them skulking amongst the ferns at The Warehouse; hiding on the shelf at the garden center or towering over us from atop the toilet cistern during an unexpected bathroom break at a friend’s house.
All of which induce the kind of mind-altering screams from The Girl that Hitchcock would have been proud of.
I have no idea how such terrors came about.
I grilled Number One Son, the Chukka-boy on several occasions, thinking he’d spent many a babysitting hour tearing around the house terrorizing The Girl with an African violet in each hand. He swears it wasn’t him. He said if it was him, he’d own up to it because frankly how many people could lay claim to something so ludicrous?
Then I thought perhaps her grandmother, owner of several terrifyingly large plants, might have inadvertently traumatized The Girl with her living room greenery. But she was adamant it wasn’t her. On the contrary, she told me she had tried on several occasions to show The Girl there was nothing to be afraid of; that the plants were friendly and lovable. She’d spend hours gently coaxing The Girl’s little hand ever-closer to the pot; speaking in calm and soothing tones while gently bringing her fingers into contact with the leaves; only to have The Girl go practically catatonic and howl inconsolably until she was pacified with an onion sandwich.
Okay, so the fear of African Violets is not the worst irrational fear anyone could have. I’ve heard of people with ‘cow-phobia’, or Bovinophobia, to use the correct
term. And yes, that’s a real phobia. I mean, how many cows would the average Bovinophobic come across every day in the workplace? Unless you’re a farmer, of course. In which case Bovinophobia would be the least of your problems, if you ask me.
I did a quick Google on “Phobias” to find that there are people whose hearts are gripped with terror at such things as: nudity, cats, of liquids or being laughed at; of the night, of birds, of clowns. There are people who are paralyzed at the thought of all things French, if you can believe it.
But African Violets? I mean, seriously?
So when The Girl’s grandmother sadly passed away a couple of years back, and her beloved houseplants were divided amongst friends and family, guess what little keepsakes we got to inherit. That’s right, two – I repeat, TWO African violets. So now we have one African violet sitting in the dining room overseeing goings-on at the dinner table, and a second in the main bathroom ensuring no one abuses the facilities.
So that’s two portals of terror in our house.
But take heart, my trembling little bundle of nerves: when your worst nightmares threaten to overwhelm you; when you find yourself overcome with panic at the sight of the bathroom foliage, or the hideous specter of an African violet casting its shadow of dread across the dining table, just remember – it could have been worse.
They could have been French.