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.
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?