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my husband is afraid of ukuleles
and other phobia factoids
by jj freyermuth

“It’s because they look like little aliens growing out of people’s stomachs!” he exclaims as he shares with me the exact thought process that brought him to his distrust of small stringed instruments.

Yes, my husband is more than slightly eeked out by ukuleles. But before I release too many belly laughs at his expense, I should probably examine my own idiosyncrasies and phobias a little closer.

When I was young I hated dolls. Actually, I still do. I didn’t like the thought of fake people in a world of real people. It was too spooky. Although I would, on occasion, succumb to my strong maternal type instincts and carry a baby doll around. Eventually the realization would hit me upside my young head that the blob of plastic shaped like a human was not, in fact, human. I would then toss the rubbery faux child into the toy box and close the lid tightly so that the dead marble eyes couldn’t stare me down as I played with my etch-a-sketch.

I also freak out at pictures of babies dressed up like flowers or pea pods or lady bugs. I find it unnatural and …well…wrong! I had my share of squirmy discomfort when Anne Geddes gained in popularity and suddenly everything had a picture of a baby on it dressed up like a sunflower or some crazy nonsense like that! Then, the worst of the worst! Baby dolls dressed like Anne Geddes babies! Fake babies in costumes! Say wha??!! I was freaked.

Who can say where these little mental glitches come from? I doubt my husband has ever had a tragic incident with a ukulele that scarred his psyche. And my disdain for dolls was certainly in existence before the rise of “Chucky”.

My kids grew up with a few of their own brain blocks. My daughter was scared of towels with print on them. My son had an unhealthy fear of water near his ears. Both seem to have outgrown these minor hiccups. However, my husband and I still shrink inside when faced with ours.

I have heard of some pretty interesting hang-ups from friends as well. Fear of cotton (ball, swab and candy), orchards, closed-toe shoes, corn on the cob, themed bathrooms, cheese in a can, dryer lint, magazines in waiting rooms, and the list could go on and on!

I understand the larger phobias. Dogs could bite, so could snakes and bugs. The dark contains unknowns of all shapes and size. The fear of flying and falling also makes sense to me. But what happens in our mind worlds that creates those lesser known, often embarrassing and fearful- for-no-good-reason fears?

I once had a friend who wouldn’t sleep on plaid sheets. She said the fear stemmed from a dream she had as a child where she was sleeping on plaid sheets and somehow got tangled in the lines of plaid and met her demise strangled by the murderous pattern on twin sized cotton. She had floral patterns on all her sheets whenever I visited. I always wondered why the sheets weren’t just plain. If plaid could kill you, then most certainly flowers could as well!

Perhaps our brains are just too busy working. Maybe we over-think, over-dream, over-do it enough to create these strange and goofy phobias. What if we could all just chill out and stop thinking so much? Could that help us with our mental dilemmas? It’s probably just best to chalk it up to being human and leave it at that. Let’s all forgive ourselves for being normal and move on.

So my husband won’t be taking ukulele lessons anytime soon. And you certainly won’t find a doll collection in my house. My daughter’s towels are print free (though she wants it to be known that print is ok in her book now) and my son bathes with minimal anxiety. Ah…all is right with the world.


JJ Freyermuth is a mother, wife, writer and editor currently living and working in the bustling metropolis of Casa Grande, Arizona. Armed with a Pentel RSVP ballpoint pen and a three subject notebook, she usually writes interesting, heart-warming and sometimes odd articles on life in small town desert territory and the joy of being a middle-aged woman with a teen-aged brain. She is sure to leave you laughing, crying, scratching your head, or just plain sighing with general contentment.

more about jj freyermuth


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