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 (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).