Merriam-Webster defines a phobia as an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.
We all have one or two – possibly more. Phobias defy rational thought and are difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. My phobia is something I’ve grown up with and it’s amplified overtime. I inherited it from my father, who has successfully passed it down to my four brothers and my sister.
What I fear most in this world is fish. Freshwater fish, specifically. Yes, I do understand that it’s ridiculous is to fear something that fears me more. (That’s what people tell me, but I have a hard time believing it.)
Our family cottage is located on one of the murkiest lakes in Wisconsin – this is a documented fact. Fertilizer from the surrounding farm fields runs into the lake resulting in the unchecked growth of dense weeds and a thick top coat of green algae.
When my family gathers here on summer afternoons, it’s plain to see the phobia is alive and well in various levels of severity. We’ll go in the water, but only after others have gone in first and scared away the fish. Once we’re in, we splash around and yell loudly to keep them away. Under no circumstances do our feet ever touch the bottom. My Dad takes it one step further – he’s more afraid of dead fish than live ones. Since he’s ‘the Dad,’ it’s his job to dispose of the occasional floater that’s washed ashore. It is pure comedic gold to witness this.
I’m never far from my phobia. Even in the dead of winter, it’s found a way to rear its ugly head. I’ve been looking into getting PADI certified so I can go scuba diving on vacation. I found out that most classes include two parts: pool training to learn how to use the equipment and field training – in a lake.
I do not want to scuba dive in a lake.
An ocean is an entirely different story. I love snorkeling around the tropical plants and fish. I was even in close proximity to a manta ray and didn’t lose my shit. But I have absolutely no desire to explore the weedy, dark, fresh water fish-infested underworld of a lake. So I guess I’m not getting PADI certified after all.
This managed to come up as a topic of conversation with a few acquaintances of mine. They were reasonably baffled when I told them I was less afraid of encountering a non-man-eating shark than a musky.
Musky (and all lake fish) are scaly monsters designed to blend in with their murky underworld. Sharks are majestic and graceful fish killing machines. It makes me think we’re on the same team. It’s also ridiculous and irrational, thus, making it the perfect phobia.
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