Growing up, fears were supposed to be nothing more than silly nonsense that age would soon cure: the dread of not reaching the potty on time and soiling my pants – yet again; the panic in PE of my classmates realising I had no pubic hair; or the fright on finding out I was interested in their pubic hair…
As I grew longer, wider and hairier so did my fears. What if I never met anyone? What if I never had sex? What if I was stoned to death because I liked penises other than my own?
The nineties coming to a close, I timidly crawled into someone’s bed. Orgasm was had and fears vanished, instantly! After all, what was there to fear? I was 20: I ruled the world. Fears were for pussies! I could do just about anything and anyone! The world was an oyster and I was ready to swallow it whole. And I did, blissfully unaware that its slime could choke me.
The noughties were a bag of jelly-babies that I happily devoured. Fears were there of course: the fear of not pulling that hot blond over there or the fear of not fitting in my skinny jeans. Fears, I overcame easily.
And then my hair started thinning… and as I turned 30, fears made a comeback: Will I ever meet someone (that one again!)? Am I wasting my life? What is the meaning of it all?
But rather than let me drown in my own existential paranoia, they flipped on me and they began to nag me like an overbearing mother resentful that you weighted 9lb at birth. It started innocently enough. I would lock the door twice, would switch off the heaters in case of fire and then… it escalated.
Leaving home has become a horrid nightmare. I stare at the tap: it’s not leaking. I touch it to make sure it’s off. Then I look at it again. I switch off all the appliances. I stare at the ashtray to make sure all the cigarette-butts are extinguished. Then I run the ashtray under the tap. I look at the cigarettes: they’re soaking. I throw them in the bin. I close the bin, I open the bin: Yes, they’ve not caught on fire! I turn back to the tap. It’s off. I stare: Yes, it’s off! I lock the door. I turn the key three times, I lean against it: Yes, it’s locked! Is the water still running? I reopen the front door, look at the tap: Yes, it’s off! I look at the stove: All the lights are off. I check the bin, check my room, check the bathroom. I lock the door, turn the key three times, lean against it and finally walk away. I walk down the stairs and run back up: Yes, the door is closed! Walking away, strangely shaken, I think about all the possible ways something could go horribly wrong.
The second I sit down on the train, the certainty of a catastrophe is more vivid than ever: the water is still running, the door is not locked…argh! I try to repress the urge to get off at the next station to rush back home. I repress it, my hands choking the pole. I…will…not…go…back…Repress it, damn it!
The loony bin is round the corner. I can already see myself, waiting in line for my daily dosage of little white pills, between an old lady pulling her hair and a chronic masturbator. But at least, the doors will be closed…but what about the water running?
See I couldn’t do that! I would never be sure that the doors are shut tight!