Some of All Fears
Billy D. cleans up his hotel room before he checks out. He doesn’t need to, it’s a really nice hotel; he’s stayed there several times before. In fact, the housecleaning staff does a great job. It’s always meticulous throughout his visit. This is what bothers him. He has come to fear the distant possibility that hotel staff could very easily collect scraps of guests’ DNA to plant at crime scenes. He is convinced that one day he’ll go to prison a wrongfully accused man with a wild tale of innocence that runs contrary to all physical evidence.
Now wait a second … Billy D. isn’t usually a lunatic, in fact he’s one of the most successful and grounded guys I know. This is just his “one thing,” it kind of makes him a bit more interesting. After all, he’s not the only normal, fully functioning adult with strangely manufactured fears. My buddy, Action Man is scared of children dressed as adults, in suits and ties or little brides maids’ gowns. Kelly doesn’t sit with her legs extended out over a footstool or on the coffee table. It’s not out of etiquette; she’s terrified that a chunk of the ceiling will fall directly on her knees, bending them backwards through the gap. I have a special little piece of crazy in the back of my head that is reserved exclusively for clowns. Now, I’ve never been personally affronted by a clown before, no clown has done me physical harm, but I know … I just know they’re not being genuine under that make-up and that one day a clown will be silently standing over my lifeless body.
Everybody has something of which they are convinced they should be petrified, no matter how flat-out crazy it seems to the world at large. Where does this stuff come from? Our parents not monitoring what we were watching on television as kids? Some childhood trauma?
I was at a dinner party a while back, when my host, in an effort to illustrate that his three year-old had the ability to entirely block out all noise created by adults, stated to me that he hoped his son went to bed “before the bears came.” The kid takes that one moment to be listening to his dad and therefore will most likely fear bears for the rest of his life. Now sarcastic parenting is a great explanation for things like clowns and sitting properly, I guess, but it still doesn’t touch on the hotel DNA thing.
I’m no psychologist, heck the only reason I took Psych in college was because there were so many girls registered for it (there was something about my Id fighting my Ego, but I can remember who won), but my current theory is that the brain can handle only so much before it breaks. We create these wacko scenarios that will never happen as a safety net of last resort. That way if we’re in a plane crash or lose our jobs we can take comfort in the fact that things could be worse. At least the well-dressed children haven’t finally raised that army; or the clowns haven’t yet mounted their attack, with their razor sharp teeth and oversized, talon-like feet.
No support group exists for Billy D.’s specific form of paranoia, so he still travels regularly, cleaning up his hotel room before he leaves. He’s not uptight about it. He knows it probably won’t happen, but if somebody is going to frame him like Richard Kimble, they’re going to figure out a way regardless of what he does. That being said, he tips the housekeepers pretty well, you know, just in case.
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