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I read somewhere that Charles Dickens was the first person, and author, to make the connection between clowns and fear. Years later, another brilliant author Stephen King penned the fear down in the form of Pennywise the clown in IT, a book and movie that still haunt me to this day.

But my clourophobia – the fear of clowns – predates the book and the movie. At my second or third birthday, someone hired a clown to entertain the kiddies. Judging from the photos taken on this day, I was clearly petrified.  Some people might argue that all kids are scared of strangers and that I was just scared because I did not know the clown, but this wasn’t it. I am an extrovert and I’ve been this way since birth. I was never a shy child, or scared of new people. I loved them.

But clowns are different. I am so scared of these humans in make-up that even just taking a photo of this picture from my birthday scared the wits out of me. And while doing a little research for this post, I came upon this article about the history and psychology of fearing clowns. Click only on the link if you are not scared of clowns, because my heart stopped when I clicked through. I am still sitting here shaking after I saw that pic.

The fear has grown so much – albeit very irrational – that I freeze when I see a clown. Last year, Flip and I visited a circus, something I regret, both because of how animals are treated and because there were clowns there. Man, I thought that clowns were extinct by now. Anyway, the one clown approached me directly and I started crying, I wanted to get up and run away, as fast as I can. When it comes to clowns, I defintely have the flee instinct. The other day, there was a clown in Builder’s Warehouse, on stilts. A tall fucking terrifying clown. I had to walk down long aisles to avoid him. I felt tears in my eyes welling up. Luckily there aren’t a lot of clowns around.

Real Fear
But, when it comes to things I should really fear, like crime in this vrot country of ours, I am exactly the opposite. On Sunday we were driving through Pretoria. Flip was driving and his window was wide open. We were chatting away, listening to the radio and the next minute, a hand comes in through the window, and switches off my car.

Shit, we’re getting hijacked, is my first thoughts. Then a second guy appears, holding a knife a few centimetres away from Flip’s throat. “Give us your phone,” he says. The next thing I know, I’m loosening my seatbelt and unlocking my door. “Stay in the car,” he demands. FUCK YOU, I retort.

I got out of my car and started hurtling towards them, swinging my fists and screaming all kinds of profanities that I would rather not repeat here (such as a c word that relates to vagina). I made such a terrible noise and told them that I would fucking kill them and I would beat them to a pulp, that they walked off. The two must have thought that I had a gun on me. They are lucky I didn’t, because I would have shot the shit out of them. Or if I had a pipe in my car I would have beaten the crap out of them. I don’t think I’m brave or anything, I might even be stupid for acting like this, but it is what my instinct told me to do. When split second decisions have to be made, there is no thinking about it, you just act.

I returned to the car and Flip sped off. In this instance, as with a previous time when we were smash and grabbed, my fight instinct kicked in. I was in a psychotic state, ready to kill anything or anyone who aims to harm my family. It actually scares me how crazy I get. I often think of what would have happened if I was in Flip’s shoes when he was hijacked. I know I would not be compliant to the attackers’ demands, I know I would have fought back, even with a gun to my head. I would have tried to defend myself. And perhaps not be here to write this today.

But isn’t it time that people stand up for themselves and fight back? Why be complaisant to criminal activity? Why just give in and sit down and shut up? Fuck that.

It’s funny how a human who is supposed to bring joy and no harm scares the living daylights out of me, but that a human who aims to harm me or my loved ones does exactly the opposite.

Do you have the fight or flight instinct? What is your worst irrational fear?

5 Responses to “Irrational Fears vs Stupidity”

  1. cat

    Oh flight! For snakes! My hubby loves to tell how I almost climbed out a shear rockface in fear of a snake. I also have no love of balloons

    Reply
  2. Tina Pieterse

    I also have an irrational fear of clowns and mimes for some reason They freak me out completely!!!!!!! But I wouldnt say I have any real fears I think I have abit of a flight and a bit of fight in me when responding

    Reply
  3. Caley-Jade Rosenberg

    I have to admit, I’ve never really understood the fear of clowns – obviously as it isn’t a fear of mine!

    As for hectic crime – I am no fighter. I have never been actually involved in any serious crime to know for sure but when we have heard a noise or something, I freeze and just do not move. This makes me think I would oblige and flee for my safety! Marc has also commented that he would always fight, until we had kids, now it is natural instinct to comply and keep everyone safe and protected – he would never fight against someone with a weapon!
    x

    Reply
  4. Gae Cokayne - Heart of Iron

    Oh wow what an awful thing to happen! My instinct is to fight, but I have learned that slowing down and doing so in a more controlled way leads to better outcomes. As a paramedic I had a gun at my head, a knife drawn at me, and was chased down the highway by a man with a screwdriver. The only time I froze was with the gun, the other times I made the calculated decision to fight. I am so glad you are ok though!

    Reply
  5. Megan O'Donnell

    I like to THINK I’d also run at them uttering every single swear-word by dear mum said I should never, ever utter, punches wildly swinging. In reality – don’t know! (We also had a hand (just the hand, sans weapon) come through the window in Pretoria to grab a cell phone – I swore at him out the window – you effing kkkkkkkk – but he ran off with the phone anyway).

    Reply

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