'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
I’M NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING – EXCEPT FEAR
Recently I read in a scientific journal (or possibly “The National Enquirer”) that human beings are born with only two instinctive fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Those two fears are hard-wired into our brains. All the other fears that people have are learned as we go through life.
I remember years ago discovering that the fear of falling is indeed present in new-born babies. When my daughter was an infant, I would hold her in my arms and then quickly lower her about a foot. She would immediately get a startled look on her face and flail away with her little arms and legs. It was so cute. (No, I never dropped her three feet onto the bed to see the full effect…at least not on purpose.)
Anyway, about ten years later my daughter got back at me by demonstrating that the second fear is indeed present, not only in new-born babies, but also in mature (and sometimes immature) adults. On a lazy Saturday afternoon, just as I was dozing off on the living room couch, my daughter carefully removed the entire silverware drawer from the kitchen and accidentally-on-purpose spilled its contents onto the hardwood floor, about two feet from my head.
Not only did she get to observe the fear-of-loud-noises reaction, as I instantly levitated above the couch, lurching and quivering like a fish out of water, but she also got to observe the fear-of-falling reaction as I dropped back down onto the couch. Actually, my descent and approach kind of missed the runway, and I landed on the floor, right on top of the pile of silverware. (Man, those steak knives are sharp!) I miss those fun times when the kids were young.
We have some very specific and personalized fears in my family. One of my daughters is deathly afraid of spiders. My wife is deathly afraid of mice. And I’m deathly afraid of my daughter seeing a spider or my wife seeing a mouse. (It’s that fear-of-loud-noises thing.) You probably wondered what that piercing sound was last fall. A mouse decided to come in from the cold and take up residence in our garage, and NASA satellites determined that although the scream emanated from Torrington, it was clearly audible as far south as Watertown. (Watertown, Florida, that is.)
Since all these other fears are acquired rather than inborn, I wonder what traumatic events might have caused them. Did my daughter wake up one morning as a child and see a spider dangling from a web just above her nose? Did my wife watch the movie “Willard” when she was young? Or even more terrifying, did she ever visit Disneyworld and slowly come to the uncomfortable realization that an entire multi-billion dollar corporate industry was created around the concept of a dopey little mouse?
If all but two fears are learned and not instinctive, then I suppose it is possible to un-learn them. I also suppose this is the concept around which another entire multi-billion dollar corporate industry was created: psychotherapy.
During my research on the topic of fear, I discovered another interesting fact (right after the article on Brad Pitt in that issue the Enquirer): a large number of people have the same very specific fear—the fear of clowns.
Wow, I thought it was only me who had nightmares about bizarre characters who jump right into your face with their exaggerated, creepy smiles. But many other people also dislike politicians. Oh, and clowns are creepy, too.
To paraphrase FDR, we have nothing to fear but Bozo himself. Good advice in this election year.
|Home||Current Faith||Current Funnies||Faith Archive||Funnies Archive||Contact Bill|