Phobias cost time, money and reputation

I’M off to the dentist tomorrow for my annual check-up. I use the terms “annual” and “check-up” loosely, as it’s been about a million years since I last sat in the chair. Obviously then, my teeth are past caring about my appearance and have taken to dramatically breaking, falling out or staining themselves yellow before a big function.

The thing about getting your teeth fixed is that if you just did it regularly, you wouldn’t need to have them fixed, would you? A wee filling here, a bit of a scrape ’n brush there and cheery-bye until we meet again.

I could blame my sorry relationship with dentistry on an actual phobia, but I don’t have odontophobia or dentophobia – and I don’t experience, as up to 10% of Americans do – an insane sweating when I see men and women in white coats.

There isn’t an excuse. I just hate spending the money. Plus, I used to have good teeth before having kids. So I blame them. I don’t have time to brush properly and I eat sugar to keep going in order to give them the very best education and extramural exposure.

But now I’m in a load of codswallop and it’s going to cost me a fortune in root canals and false pearlies.

That’s what real or even half-arsed phobias do. They cost money, time and reputation – little wonder medical aids don’t cover them.

I put off getting my jaw yanked and my gums poked with sharp objects because I’m a bit nervous. But I do go. Eventually. Pity the people who are genuinely, madly and deeply petrified of, say, roses or, ye gods forbid, shopping malls?

Can you begin to imagine the lives they must lead? A fear of heights, fair enough – you just stay close to the ground. A fear of flying – a little tricky, but who needs to holiday in the Maldives anyway, when there’s a nice Karoo experience around the corner, by road?

I know people whose lives are twisted into the strangest shapes because they simply will not, cannot eat, sniff, climb, stand, look at or hear whotsit or another.

And even though you think it is, it’s not funny. A close family member (can’t name and shame him – I like the guy) has severe astynomiaphobia. He’s so frightened that I can’t even tell you what it is.

When his mates found out, and threatened to “astynomia” his phobia at his stag night, his bride-to-be found out in the nick of time. And probably saved a few jaw bones in the process.

This is fair warning, then. When next you invite a clown to your friend’s 30th, ’cos you know it’ll scare her pantless, consider how you’d feel waking up to wasps in your bed. Or rats in the fridge. Or a dentist in your bathroom.

There’s nothing more terrifying than having your broccoliphobia fuelled by the chocophobe to whom you gave a fat slab of Lindt last week.

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