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Out of My Head

High places, cave crickets and ventriloquists are scary any time of year

October 31st, 2011 9:13 am by Jan Hearne

With Halloween only a day away, it’s time to think about what scares us. Certainly we can learn a lot from my favorite TV character Adrian Monk, the phobic detective from the now-syndicated show “Monk.”
Here is a partial list of Mr. Monk’s fears:
1. Germs
2. Needles
3. Milk
4. Death
5. Snakes
6. Dirt
7. Heights
8. Crowds
9. Elevators
10. Bees and hornets
11. Dark
12. Spiders
13. Clouds
14. Caves
15. Tap water
Add to that list puppets, feet and dryer lint, and you have a feel for his all-encompassing phobias.
Mr. Monk also fears uneven numbers. It’s not that I fear them, they just make me uncomfortable. I recognize this as a manifestation of obsessive compulsive disorder, but it doesn’t interfere with my life. I can pump $22.31 of gas and not break out in hives. Really, I can.
Unfortunately, I share Mr. Monk’s fear of heights. I can climb a securely held ladder, but put me in a church balcony and ask me to look down and I get vertigo. Swinging bridges? Absolutely no way.
I don’t like roaches. I should not have to explain this.
Clowns used to scare the heck out of me, until I met one in full costume and makeup who talked in a normal voice about normal things — he was on his way to pick up his 2-year-old son from the circus day care. Now I no longer see clowns as sinister beings hiding in the storm drain (Stephen King’s “It”) but as harried dads with children.
I am terrified of cave crickets, which an exterminator once referred to as “stinging crickets.” (This was the same guy who told me rats can start a house fire if you leave matches lying around.)
OK, I know cave crickets don’t sting — well, I do now — but I don’t need an expert to tell me they are disgusting. Just look at ’em. These are not your run-of-the-mill house crickets, which I think are cute, these are beady-eyed, skinny, roach-colored things with jacked up legs and a bad attitude. Cave crickets not only stand their ground when approached, they have been known to advance.
Ventriloquist dummies give me the heebie jeebies. Come to think of it, ventriloquists, especially Edgar Bergen, frighten me. I shouldn’t have been allowed to watch “Twilight Zone” as a child.
I’m not fond of small, enclosed spaces. I got locked in a windowless bathroom once for a couple of hours. The imagination runs wild when you’re trapped: Suppose there’s a rat is in the basement with a pack of matches?
OK, I’m giving myself the creeps. Let’s change the subject.

Jan Hearne is Tempo editor for the Johnson City Press. Reach her at

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