Wait, These Phobias Exist?

August 3, 2011

Here’s a list of phobias I had no clue existed:

Ablutophobia- Fear of washing or bathing.

Agyrophobia- Fear of streets or crossing the street.

Albuminurophobia- Fear of kidney disease.

Alektorophobia- Fear of chickens.

Allodoxaphobia- Fear of opinions. (Ok, I knew that one existed, I just didn’t know it had a name.)

Androphobia- Fear of men. (Yeah, that one too.)

Apotemnophobia- Fear of persons with amputations.

Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.

Aulophobia- Fear of flutes.

Barophobia- Fear of gravity.

Blennophobia- Fear of slime.

Cacophobia- Fear of ugliness.

Chionophobia- Fear of snow.

Cholerophobia- Fear of anger or the fear of cholera. (Wait! What?!)

Chorophobia- Fear of dancing. (If only more white people had this!)

Consecotaleophobia- Fear of chopsticks.

Dikephobia- Fear of justice.

Dipsophobia- Fear of drinking.

Dutchphobia- Fear of the Dutch.

Ecclesiophobia- Fear of church.

Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.

Francophobia- Fear of France or French culture.

Geliophobia- Fear of laughter.

Geniophobia- Fear of chins.

Geumaphobia or Geumophobia- Fear of taste. (Wow! That one must be terrible!)

Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms. (How often does this happen?)

Homilophobia- Fear of sermons. (Amen!)

Ithyphallophobia- Fear of seeing, thinking about or having an erect penis. (We are all adults here.)

Linonophobia- Fear of string.

Logizomechanophobia- Fear of computers.

Logophobia- Fear of words. (This blog would be terrifying to an Logophobic!)

Lutraphobia- Fear of otters.

Menophobia- Fear of menstruation. (I think this is valid, for boyfriends and husbands.)

Nomatophobia- Fear of names. (Roll call in elementary school was hell for a Nomatophobic.)

Octophobia – Fear of the figure 8.

Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.

Orthophobia- Fear of property.

Ouranophobia or Uranophobia- Fear of heaven.

Papaphobia- Fear of the Pope.

Peladophobia- Fear of bald people.

Philosophobia- Fear of philosophy.

Phobophobia- Fear of phobias. (This is understandable after reading this list!)

Pogonophobia- Fear of beards. (My sister-in-law suffers from this.)

Porphyrophobia- Fear of the color purple. (Wait, the movie/book? Or the actual color purple?)

Pteronophobia- Fear of being tickled by feathers. (CeeLo does not suffer from this one.)

Pupaphobia – Fear of puppets. (CeeLo’s cool here too.)

Sesquipedalophobia- Fear of long words. (Why did I not know about this in school?)

Symbolophobia- Fear of symbolism.

Syphilophobia- Fear of syphilis. (Wait, who does NOT fear this! There should be a name for that person!)

Thaasophobia- Fear of sitting. (This would be so tiring!)

Tyrannophobia- Fear of tyrants. (Um?)

Virginitiphobia- Fear of rape. (Again, why would someone NOT fear this?)

Xenoglossophobia- Fear of foreign languages. (An alternate word for this phobia could be American.)

Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.


Be a monster, and fear not a monster.

January 19, 2011

I just got an email from a friend who was talking about fear; fear of what’s to come, fear of what is past, fear of the unknown, fear. Funny enough, I can relate to that, in this particular season of life. I mean, throughout my existence I have been someone who prides myself in not being fearful. I’ve often walked in places “they” told me not to walk, done things “they” said I shouldn’t do, and hung out with people “they” said would kill me…whoever “they” may be. And it was fear that led “they” to speak that way, and yet their projections of that fear did not stick to me. I wouldn’t even say it bounced off, because I am not altogether sure it ever even reached me.

But now, in this phase of life, I’m dealing with elements that are unknown to me. You see, I know guns, knives, bullets, gang territories, drugs, broken bottles, street fights, murderers, rapists, and those “they” say are “dangerous”; those I should allegedly fear. I have kept them close. I never feared any of that because I never questioned whether or not I should be in the places I was, with the people I was with, and I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Now I’m in a season of the unknown and, whether I like to admit it or not, it is scary. This is new to me. And it’s hard not to let fear creep up, in the many ways and forms it tries to reveal its ugly head. So, I could relate to my friend’s email, and I found myself responding to it without having to think much about it. It might have only made sense to me.

I remembered being a kid and thinking about monsters; vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, goblins, ghouls, ghosts, and the lot. I had an extremely active imagination and could therefore create these creatures in my mind, far more menacing than anything you have ever seen on a movie or in a picture book. Maybe I would be walking through my neighborhood, in the dark, all by myself, with only my thoughts to entertain me, and one of the usual suspects of the previously mentioned lineup would make an appearance. Adrenaline would suddenly course through my veins. I would walk faster, look nervously from side to side, and then behind me, picking up the pace another notch. I would feel silly for being scared of those imaginary creatures, but at the same time my mind made them so very real, and there was no way to escape them. The faster I walked, the bigger they became. If I dared to jog, or even worse run, they would get right on my tail, unrelenting in their chase.

Some nights I could feel them breathing on my neck.

And then, sometimes, something would kick in and I would snap out of it, remembering I had a secret weapon. My weapon? To pretend that I was one of them. In my mind, I transformed into a monster, because if the other monsters saw me as a fellow monster they would accept me, and not try to scare me, and maybe, just maybe if I was bad enough, they might even be scared of me. I would be the fearless leader of the monsters, just like Max who tamed the Wild Things. I would slow my pace back down to a stroll, begin to walk with a strut, contort my face, snarl my lips, gnash my teeth, and growl, if only in my mind. The fear would vanish as quickly as it had gripped me. The monsters, realizing they had messed with the wrong monster, retreated to the darkness of the night. And I fearlessly walked home in peace.

As time ticks on, life gets more complex, as do the fears that come with it; if only I was merely facing Dracula right now. And we try all sorts of ways to deal with the fears that surface. But I guess the most important thing is to continue to be aware of it; that we don’t let it get to that point where it grips us, and begins to paralyze us. Because the thing about fear is, it only has as much power over us as we allow it to have. The more we try to run from it, the bigger it gets. But when we stand our ground, grit our teeth and snarl back at it, well, it will see the monster within us, and it will most definitely back down. And we will be able to fearlessly walk on, in peace.

Welcome to America! Watch out for the terrorists!

November 25, 2010

Ok, so first of all, this is the first blog I have ever written in mid-air. I mean, I am on the internet right now! hard to believe! Anyways…

Atlanta airport was a trip! My gate was full of characters: soldiers returning from Iraq, a dude with a crazier beard than mine who might very well be a member of the Avett Brothers, a nun, and the likes. Sitting there waiting for my connection to Nashville, they kept coming over the speakers saying we are “on high terror alert” and it is all the way at “orange”, whatever the heck that means. I was smacked in the face with the reminder of fear people live in here. And then the second blow came when the lady beside me got a phone call from her husband.

Lady, “…yeah, and God! There are two terrorists or something on my flight! (pause) No, I don’t know what they are. They are draped in this orange shit, wrapped all around them!”

They were Buddhist monks. Yep.

She continued to talk and I considered moving, but the gate was full. Sigh. When she got off the phone I guess she thought I looked like an expert in the field and she turned to me and asked, “What Nationality are they?!” Referring to the monks. I said, “Well, I really have no idea but possibly Tibetan, or Burmese. They’re Buddhist monks.”

Lady, “But they’re wrapped in orange material! I’ve never seen that!”

Instead of telling her she should get out more, I just settled for the more polite, “Yeah, they tend to wear orange.”

Lady, “But why would they be going to Nashville?!”

Sigh again. Me, “Um, I really have no idea. But they probably have friends there,” to which the ladies eyes almost popped out of her head, “Or they might even live there. I don’t live far from Nashville and I’ve got Buddhist monk friends.”

Lady, “Oh my!”

Thankfully they called the first class passengers and the lady jumped up to board. Shew! Maybe she thought the orange level or terror meant the terrorists literally drape themselves in orange material. I don’t know. But it was pretty hectic.

Look a cow in the eye. Smack a gangster in the face.

July 10, 2010

“I swallowed the big ball in my throat, gritted my teeth and stared that big, ugly smoke breathing monster right in his shining green eyes. We had a stare down, both determined not to look away.”

But first…

I’m in a really strange place in life right now; one of those “more questions than answers” phases.  Things used to seem simpler, or maybe life was less complicated, or at the very least, life was just as complicated but easier to deal with. Whatever. For the first time in a long, long time I am looking at the future, well at least my future, and I feel like I am staring into a thick, cloudy darkness with a big, ugly monster waiting within it. I think that big, ugly monster might be called “the unknown”, and it’s pretty scary.

I guess I kind of fear it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Just stating. It takes a lot for me to admit I’m scared. As a matter of fact, I rarely do. I brag that the only thing in life I’m scared of is sharks. But that’s not altogether true. So yeah, I’ll admit that that big, ugly, scary monster is frightening. Maybe the most frightening part about it is its anonymity and mystery. Yep, now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure that’s what makes the monster bigger and scarier, at least in my mind. I’m not sure exactly how I landed up in this place, standing in front of this monster’s cloudy lair, but I do know where I’ve come from, and the journey I’ve been on the last few years. That helps.

So this monster, if I can call it that, has been on my mind a lot lately. It won’t go away. I wouldn’t say it haunts me, but I’m always aware of its presence, and it has been known, in the past few weeks, to keep me up at night. Stupid monster. I know I’ll defeat it. But I guess I have to actually see it before I can do that. I mean, I can’t hardly slay a monster I can’t even see, which brings me back to the complexity of this particular unidentified monster, also known as “the unknown”. Sigh. And then the other day I wrote a blog about gangsters, which reminded me of a story that reminds me of another story…

When I was working on the streets every day in downtown Cape Town, I would often get myself into questionable situations, but manage to make it out alive, and usually even unscratched. More simply put, I would see something I didn’t agree with, typically involving the kids I worked with, I would jump in without thinking and do something stupid like snatch a police officer’s gun out of his hands, and then somehow I would not get shot or beat up or arrested. Some of my friends say it was God’s protection over me, some say I was just really lucky, and a few others say I am a strange alien species from a rare star; we all have our opinions. Anyways! One of those “questionable moments” involved a gangster, who I will call Killer for the sake of this story.

I don’t like labeling people, but if I were the type to do so, I would say this fake name I am giving Killer is a colossal understatement. I hate to say it, but he was pretty much evil incarnated. He was in jail most of the time, which we were all cool with, but when he was on the outside you could literally feel his presence in the atmosphere of town. He would viciously rob people, rape the younger boys to prove his dominance, fight someone over nothing, and stab someone over absolutely nothing. I am rarely scared, though you now know it might only be on the outside, but when he was around my insides trembled a bit.

This particular day, of this particular situation, Killer walked up to me and a lady friend, whilst we were chatting with a group of younger kids. He did his normal snarling and growling at the kids. I said, “Sup.” He said, “Sup.” Then he started looking my lady friend up and down, licking his lips like a dog in heat. It was a disgusting display of uncontrolled lust. She was clearly uncomfortable. He made a vulgar, inappropriate comment to her. I immediately told him to never speak to a lady like that in front of me, or at all for that matter. Surprisingly enough, Killer put his hand on his chest and said, “I’m sorry Ryan. You’re right.” We were all a bit surprised at his willingness to cooperate.

We continued to chat, the children perceptibly nervous of Killer’s presence. And then it happened, the animalistic action that would spark some kind of animalistic instinct in me. Killer smiled slyly, started speaking in the “dodgy-guy-trying-to-pick-up-a-girl-in-a-club” tone, and he put his arm around my lady friend. But his hand didn’t just stop and rest on her shoulder, or hang off the side even. Oh no. His hand continued around to her front, moving towards her chest, and he took a big squeeze of one of her boobs. Without thinking I smacked him across the face as hard as I could. Yes, I smacked him. Not punched, not backhanded, I smacked him, and hard! And then time stood still for moments that felt like eternity.

Killer looked down and held his face in shock.

The girl quickly pulled away from him.

The kids all stood, mouths wide open with their chins on the ground, eyes as round as saucers.

And I began to realize I was about to finally feel what it felt like to have a knife stuck through my face. And then I thought of my FBI agent, great uncle, who we called Unc.

It was always cool to go on vacation with Unc because he would teach me cool things like how to put a worm on a hook, or how to shoot guns, or how to sneak up on an enemy without making a sound, and all sorts of other awesome “boy stuff” like that. Plus, he was a freaking FBI agent! That alone is pretty cool for a kid. So, most of my childhood we would to always go for vacation to some family-owned land called Seven Springs, way down in Florida. There was all sorts of crazy stuff to do there. Canoeing, hiking, getting chased by wild boar, chasing armadillo, getting chased by alligators, building forts, playing harmonica, catching wild horses, and so forth and so on. There was also this big herd of Spanish bulls; or at least that’s what I’ll call them, not being an expert in livestock.

They had big, long horns that stood straight up, they were fast as lightening, their eyes shone red, and they breathed smoke out their huge, round nostrils; or at least, so it seemed to a teeny five-year-old boy. I was terrified of those things! I hated to walk past them. I remember one night in particular when Unc and I walked through the darkness of their field. He was probably telling me remarkable stories as we walked, and I was probably all-ears. All of the sudden, not so far from us, I heard growl of one of the bulls. Yeah, they growled, not mooed. My heart starting pounding out of my five-year-old chest, I breathed heavier and my mouth got dry. I looked out, and there they stood, the whole herd of them, the scary, smoke breathing bulls, all with the moonlight reflecting in their normally red eyes, making them glow bright green.

I reached my hands up to Unc, “Pick me up! Pick me up!!”

He looked down at me, “Are you scared?”

You would think, with me practically climbing up his leg like a rabid squirrel in absolute panic, that that would be a stupid question to ask, but with hindsight I realize it was more of the rhetorical nature.

Unc refused to pick me up, “Don’t ever let them see your fear. They will use it against you.”

Oh, thanks Unc! Thanks a lot! Do you think my tiny little body can hide or hold this in?!?!?!, I thought. I became more frantic. I started to cry. I pleaded with Unc to pick me up. He lovingly refused, but remained absolutely calm. The bulls started pawing the ground, and the dust rose in the night air. I think I had a heart attack and then a stroke. But eventually, with Unc refusing and refusing to ease my fear, but encouraging me to get control of it on my own…I did. I was still scared, but it was more controlled. Then, and only then, he picked me up and said, “Come on.” I wished his “come on” meant we were going back to the cabin, but I noticed we were indeed walking towards the very creatures that had caused my panic attack.

Unc carried me towards the cows, “If they see your fear they will charge. You’ve gotta look them in the eyes and show them you are not scared, even if you are. Don’t let them see your fear.”

Thanks Unc! Easier said than done! You’re not a little five-year-old midget, AND you’re probably packing heat and could easily bust a cap in a bull in a heartbeat!

As we approached the biggest, ugliest, baddest one, their apparent leader and alpha bull, I suddenly felt a wave of calm come over my body. He snorted and blew smoke in my face. Unc held me at eye level with him. I swallowed the big ball in my throat, gritted my teeth and stared that big, ugly smoke breathing monster right in his shining green eyes. We had a stare down, both determined not to look away. And finally, after a few long moments, the bull looked away, bowed down admitting defeat, and started eating grass. Unc put me down, and we walked back to the cabin, me with my shoulders about three inches higher than before, and a lifetime’s worth of wisdom suddenly resting on them…

Then I smacked Killer. The sound of my hand against Killer’s face still rang in the air. Everyone waited to see what would happen next. And then, I remembered Unc, and the bulls. I swallowed the ball in my throat, gritted my teeth, took a step closer, put my finger in Killers face, stared him straight in his glowing green eyes and said, “I told you not to disrespect a lady!” At that point, most of the kids almost fell over in absolute and utter shock. I swallowed again. Killer look down, rubbed his face, and then looked back up with an ashamed look on his face, “I’m sorry Ryan.”


At that point, the kids’ eyes literally popped out from shock. I did not, however, have the privilege of showing too much appreciation in that moment. I had to keep it going, remain tough, “You don’t need to apologize to me!” I pointed at my lady friend. Killer turned to her, bowed his head and said, “I’m sorry.” She accepted, and he walked away quietly. As soon as he was out of sight we all let out the breath we had been holding for what felt like years. Now, I’m not saying I did the “right” thing, and I’m not condoning violence, but I did what I did, and it turned out ok. I stood up to big, bad Killer and showed him that it’s not ok just to walk all over everybody, and for whatever reason, he accepted it. Just like when I showed the big, bad bull I’m not to be messed with, and for whatever reason, he acknowledged it.

And that’s why the place I am in now reminds me of those instances. I know I’ll be ok. I may have a big, scary monster (size unknown) waiting just on the other side of these thick, dark clouds. It may feel more complicated than before, and, to be honest, I would probably rather be up against a bull or a gangster, because that is what I “know”. But knowing is not necessarily half the battle when your battling the monster called “the unknown”. So I will push through the clouds, climb up the body of the big, ugly monster, and look it straight in the eyes, telling it I refuse to be scared of it. I’ve dealt with the likes of monsters before! I’ve looked cows in the eyes, and smacked gangsters in the face.

Scary Horse

August 25, 2009

I realised something pretty powerful and maybe very obvious today, through some young men and a couple of horses. Yep. You heard me. Young men and horses.

I am privileged enough to get to attend Equine Assisted Therapy and Life Skills with some young dudes I am friends with. I know that is a mouthful, and the word “equine” makes me feel funny for some reason. I dont’ like to say it. And the word therapy can also be scary for us guys.  But man! Don’t let those words put you off because this is one powerful thing to take part in!

For those of you that don’t know, Equine Therapy is basically therapy using horses. So the people taking part interact with the horses and the horses, being the incredible creatures they are, do all the work, allowing the human facilitators to merely observe and feedback what is happening in the arena.

The horses are incredibly sensitive and intelligent animals. They pick up on every little feeling, attitude and motive the participants have. And they simply reflect that back through their behaviour. For example, last week when we showed up to the first session, all the guys (15 in total) were a bit nervous, and the horse stood straight up, body completely erect, in front of the group, wide eyed, ears sticking straight up, looking something like a horse crack addict.

The other amazing thing that happens during the group sessions is to see how the participants work with and behave with one another, and the horse, as they try and carry out the tasks they are given. Tasks like, “get that enormous, stubborn horse that stomps and bites, to walk through those two poles…without touching the horse! Yeah! Pretty difficult. But it can be done! How the participants approach the task, and deal with the fellow participants, is also a mirror image of how they interact with the world, and others they regularly come into contact with. And all of this is debriefed and talked about throughout the session, and in the end. Very enlightening! 

I hope I am not boring you, but I assure you words can do it no justice! You have to see it and experience it for yourself. But until then, back to my point: the powerful, yet maybe obvious thing I learned today.

The young men were given the very task I mentioned before, to get the horse to walk in between two poles, without touching it. They were given no advice, no help, and just told to work as a group. At first it was an unorganized chaos. They were all just doing their own thing, making noise, throwing grass, going in their own directions, and they made no grounds with the horse.

But then they regrouped, and made a plan. They assigned a leader. They spoke about how calmer body language would help and also agreed not to make loud noise. They said they must trust each other and they must not be scared of the horse, or at least try not to show it, and in the case that they feel scared, take a step back and allow the braver ones to be in front. They had a plan.

They went back out to conquer the horse with this new strategy. They made a little ground but were still struggling, but this time, they communicated properly, and changed their strategies as they went. They spontaneously decided to all hold hands and surround the horse and walk it into the poles. And after a few minutes, that is exactly what they did.

During the feedback session one of the guys was talking about how he felt vulnerable and scared because some of the group members would teasingly hold his hand and pull him closer to the horses backside, a known dangerous area of a horse. The young man perceptively pointed out that the guys who acted like that, goofing off yet putting others in danger, were actually just scared, and that is why they acted like that. They were scared of the horse, scared of the task, and so they just messed around. Man!

How many young people have I seen do the same in life?! They have all the potential in the world, but do things that look like self sabotage, through negative behaviour patterns. But what a realization to think that negative behavior actually stems out of a fear. A fear they won’t succeed. A fear they will never reach their goal. A fear that the goal is way to high, or far, or big to achieve. A fear that they do not even have a goal.

I know I have done the same thing at certain points in my life. And I know manypeople that have, and still do it as well. But how wonderful is it, when we are in a place of fear, to know that the person beside us is there to hold our hand in support, and not to pull us closer to danger. We have no control over the guy whose hand we are holding, but we have control over our self. Maybe we can’t change the behavior of the person holding our hand, but we can be the supporting hand that he or she may need. Because he or she is probably just scared.

Day 268: 18 August – Fear Monster

August 18, 2009

I just thought of something today. I am most definitely sure it is not the first time this has been thought of by someone, in the every same way I thought of it. I am also sure it has been expressed many more eloquent ways than I am capable of. But it struck me all the same, and I want to share it. I realized something.

Fear is like a pet monster.

We all have different levels of fear, about different things in life. Some fear rejection, others fear acceptance. Some fear public speaking, others fear solitude.  Some fear “the other”, others fear self. Some fear the exposure of things in the light, others fear the darkness.  

Some of our fears are valid, and experience based, others are irrational uncertainties we have allowed to spiral out of control.

But no matter what the fear is, as long as we entertain it, we are giving it a place of residence.  That fear becomes our very own pet fear monster. And like any pet, the fear monster thrives, or dies based on our maintenance of it. And this maintenance of that pet fear monster, its means of survival or extinction, comes out of how we engage with the object of our fear.

Surely denial of fear, along with avoidance of the object of the fear, only gives nourishment to the fear monster.  It eats it up, grows, becomes more powerful, acts more rabidly, and becomes less and less easy to contain. Our fear monster becomes like a raging Rottweiler, foaming at the mouth, barking behind the fence, scaring those who pass by. After a while, even us as the pet owners lose control, and that fear monster literally eats us up alive!

But maybe that fear monster should not be seen as a pet at all. Maybe more of a pest; like a disgusting rat that managed to burrow its way into the walls of our house, only taking from us, spreading disease, and giving nothing positive in return. But depending on the size of the fear monster, mere once off poison will most likely not do the trick to rid our lives of this vermin. We have to work more long term.

We have to stop feeding it, and cease giving it the nutrition it needs to survive. We have to starve it.

Without doubt, this is a process of challenging it, engaging the object of fear, putting our self in a place to confront it and even be beaten by it at times, to stand back up to it again and again, over and over again, and then a bit more.

The fear monster will starve, be malnourished, a bony being with no meat, weak, feeble, delicate and tired. The fear monster will have no strength to stand and absolutely be powerless over us.

But we have to determine whether our fear monster is a pet, or an unwanted visitor. And depending on the answer to that, we need to treat it accordingly.

People are Angry!

May 12, 2009
Today was another reminder that there are some really angry people walking (or, in this case, driving) around!

I got hit by a car! Yes, you heard me right! An old, white man hit me with his car!!

Fortunately for me I still have fairly quick reflexes! So, here’s what happened…

Me and Penny (a thirteen-year-old girl who was chilling out with me for the day) were walking to the train station in Muizenberg. So we were walking down the sidewalk and we came up to a stop street that we had to walk across. Right as we were about to cross the street, a car sped up to the stop sign. I hesitated, but then started to cross when I saw the car begin to stop. Fortunately, Penny walked behind the car.

The driver, not watching what he was doing, did not stop completely, and when I got right smack dab in front of his car he punched the accelerator! Ok, now this is the weird part…I have always had this fantasy about almost getting hit by a car and having to jump up on the hood to save myself. Well, this was my chance! So as the car came at me I jumped straight up in the air and stuck my legs straight out in front of me. My butt landed on the hood of the car, in perfect sitting position and I slid right off the side of the hood as it continued to move (turning left into the street).

I slid off smoothly and landed on my feet. I felt like The Fonz! I was not angry. I was a little confused because it all happened so fast. I turned around to the car, only to see this red-faced man roll down his window and scream, “WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING DOING?!?!?!” Up and until that point I was pretty calm. I mean, it is one thing for someone to hit you with their car because they didn’t stop properly at a stop sign and weren’t looking! We all make mistakes! But a person has a lot of never to then swear and go on as though it was the victim’s fault!

So I kind of lost it a little. As he drove off, I put my fist in my sweater and took off running beside his car, ready to punch out his window. I know, I know, that was very immature! He screeched to a halt and opened his door. I went straight up to his door and got pretty close to his face. I could smell the “old person” smell of his car interior. He was just a bit younger than my grandfather, and fortunately for him my parents instilled in me a huge amount of respect for elders. That probably saved him from getting his face kicked in. Because then spit flew from his mouth as he snarled, “YOU’RE A DUMMY!”

Wow! I do not think I have been called that name since the second grade! I almost laughed. I stood there, a little shocked. I said, “I am a dummy?!” and he emphasized it even more, with even more spit flying, “YOU’RE A DUMMY!!!!!!!” I glanced up and saw the confused Penny standing on the side of the road. I looked back down at this pitiful, angry, little, red-faced white man, and I just laughed and said, “Ok.”

He angrily drove off. As Penny and I walked on to the train station, I realized I had fulfilled my fantasy of getting to jump on a car, avoiding broken legs and potential death. And…I went on to have a wonderful day!