Monday, March 19, 2012

My Garden of Phobias

One of the things I love most about writing is that it often surprises me with small epiphanies…showing me things about myself I’d never acknowledged before. And so it was when I reached the bottom of the first draft of this blog entry, in which I talk about phobias, that I recognized a phobia which I can see now has dominated my life and contributed more than any other in shaping who I am.

We all have phobias…things which inexplicably and irrationally frighten or repulse us. I admit that I’m somewhat protective of mine. I’m not overly fond of snakes, for example, though I’ve gotten far better about being able to look at them from a safe distance. But that’s pretty much a garden-variety phobia, shared by probably the majority of people on the planet, so I can’t take any special pride in that.

I don’t, as I've mentioned in earlier blogs, like tattoos or body piercing. The former I’ve come to grudgingly accept since so many people nowadays have them. But I have found through experience that one can fairly accurately equate the number and severity of an individual's emotional problems with the number of his or her tattoos. (I can hear the screams of protest from the L.A. Ink fans, to whom I can only point out that this blog is my opinion and I don't demand you agree with me.) One tattoo is fine; a couple are okay, but beyond that…uh…, no thanks. Body piercings give me a severe case of the crawlies and are a slamming-door turnoff.

I have a phobia against using a bar of soap other people have used. (I know, it’s soap: soap kills germs. Yeah, but wet soap can be kind of slimy, and I don’t like slimy unless I made it.) I don’t like tasting food from other people’s forks or spoons or plates, or drinking from the same glass, can, or bottle—though I will do it to avoid appearing rude.

Okay, so a lot of my phobias are, indeed, fairly tame and shared by a lot of other people. But I claim to one phobia which sets me far apart from anyone else. I really hope my explanation of it will not convince you that I am totally ‘round the bend, though I am aware it might well offend some, and if so I am truly sorry. But the purpose of this blog is something akin to a pre-mortem autopsy, exposing parts of myself which may well better have been left unexposed.

I hate rings. My totally irrational antipathy towards them ranges from distaste to downright revulsion. This, if you will, is my prize hot-house orchid of phobias. To this date, I have never encountered another human being who shares it with me…though I’m sure there have to be some, somewhere. My reasoning may be seen as teetering dangerously on the brink of psychosis, but, hey, it’s mine and I’m stuck with it. Let it suffice to say that to me, the combination of ring and finger represents heterosexuality (think about it), and as a homosexual, I rebel against that concept.

For those who doubt my admittedly strange reasoning, I refer you to the wedding ring. Nothing more clearly albeit silently screams: “Heterosexual” to the world. Madison Avenue is painfully aware of the message of this symbol and uses it at every opportunity to subliminally say: “Hey, you can trust me! I’m normal. I'm just like you!” (The number of men displaying wedding rings in commercials is far out of proportion to the number of men who actually wear them in real life, though more and more people seem to be buying into it...even gays. And you will never see a TV commercial in which a man is shown alone with a small child unless he is wearing a wedding ring. Doubt me? Watch.)

Which brings us to my little epiphany. It came when I wrote the sentence about teetering dangerously on the brink of psychosis that I realized for the first time that the biggest totally irrational and inexplicable phobia—the one which has fundamentally affected my life—is: heterosexuality. I mean no offense to the 9 out of every 10 people who happen to be heterosexual. I react to it, I realize, somewhat less strongly than I react to rings, but I have never understood it and am as generally uncomfortable around it (with the exception of my heterosexual friends and family) as some heterosexuals are around homosexuals. It’s not something I’m proud of, but the fact is that it exists, it’s an integral part of who I am. And now, thanks to this blog entry, I know it.

And now you know, too.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).


Kage Alan said...

I have a Japanese movie for you to watch. It's called "Ring". heh heh heh

As for your other phobia, I wonder if you represent the perfect antithesis of how a heterosexual feels about us.

You may want to explore that in future posts, D.

Diana said...

Hi Dorien. Thanks for your snippet today. I agree with you about tattoos in that I don't mind a few discreet ones that have meaning to the wearer.
Body piercing don't do much for either but I they don't repulse me. To each his own there.
I do like rings and the symbolism that you have a partner and love them. Probably because I do like small delicate jewellery worn in moderation.
My thoughts on your phobia of heterosexuality is that because homosexuality was considered to be wrong in your younger days it became a fear of being judged and punished by heterosexuals and it was not so much a phobia as it was a resentment.
I enjoy reading your thoughts and appreciate you sharing them with us.

Dorien/Roger said...

Both Kage and Diana make interesting and valid points...and especially about my feelings toward heterosexuality being more a matter of resentment.

We humans are an odd lot. Fascinating, but odd.

Eleanor Raif said...

Thank you for sharing. Everything you said is completely understandable and logical. Especially the soap slime - ewww I agree! - and if there is a hair on it --- ugh!

The key statement in regards to rings was 'I hate rings.' Perhaps delineating a fear from general hatred (or strong dislike, whatever) might be helpful for you. Having a hatred for something is perfectly normal, even if it is something most people like or use. Like facebook. I'm leaning more towards hating it, personally.

I don't know if it is a mild fear or a strong dislike (leaning towards the latter) but I can not tolerate most women. I find them hard to talk to and hard to relate with, often times. Throughout my life have struggled to find common ground with them - my own peers. I may befriend them ultimately, but I will always have my guard up. Always. It is rooted in a deep-seated mistrust. In recent years of decoding myself, I think it links to a weak mother who put me (and herself) in scary and harmful situations as a child.

Oddly enough, I also have a mild fear of vacuum cleaners with lights on them, thanks to exposure to Close Encounters when I was a toddler.

I don't even know if there is a name for that...

Dorien/Roger said...

Eleanor, you're right about confusing hatred and phobias. Humans are, as I've said, an odd lot, and the things we fear/are uncomfortable with are as varied and numerous as the people who harbor them.