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I finally got around to watching “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” tonight.  You would think I would have seen it by now since it came out in 1998 and I moved to Vegas the same year.  And if I’m being totally honest here… I watched about 10 minutes and bailed.

I know it’s artsy and a cult classic and I’m supposed to like it.  But I meet people like that all the time, and when that’s how you spend your day, it’s just annoying to watch it glorified when you get home. It reminded me of work, and I don’t need that.

Anyway, the movie really has nothing to do with my subject today.  It’s just a cheap way to use an even cheaper pun.

I’m talking about fear.  We’ve all got it.  Everyone fears something, and odds are really good that we could all make a list.  A long one.

For some, their biggest fear is that you will think they are afraid.  Yeah, right.  The funny thing is, the more they try to hide it, the more obvious it becomes.  You know the type – big and tough and macho.  And absolutely terrified that you’ll find out it’s all a big lie.  I knew a man who was afraid of cotton balls.  He acted like nothing could ever make him even blink, but a vitamin bottle filled with cotton would throw him for a loop.  I just about fell over laughing every time this 6’3” 250 pound man came to me, looking to protect him from the Killer Cotton, but I learned it’s actually fairly common.  It’s just not something most men will admit.

Me?  I’m pretty much an open book.  If I freely admit to my fears and failings, that makes it really hard to use them against me.  I’m kind of a blackmailer’s worse nightmare.  “I’m going to tell everyone what you’re really like!”  Sorry, you’re a little too late, but if you plan on making things up, I’d be fascinated by whatever you came up with!

So what do I fear in life?  Here’s the list I came up with.

Writing.  I’m slowly but not-so-surely writing a novel.  It’s not Tom Clancy or Stephen King.  It’s not even Dave Barry.  It’s your standard summer beach novel, and I’m scared to finish it.  Why?  Am I afraid it will bomb?  Nope.  In fact, I’m more afraid it will sell and the publisher will want me to create another novel.  And that’s what’s scary – not success, but having to repeat that success.

The Boyfriend.  This one is easy.  You see, right now, he thinks he’s ordinary.  Nothing special at all.  My fear is that one day he’ll realize he’s pretty amazing and go looking for someone prettier and smarter and kinder and more successful that actually does the dishes occasionally.

My Job.  As it stands, I’ve been given notice that I’ll be laid off sometime in the next 5 months.  You would think that would scare me, but it doesn’t.  Frankly, I could use the time off.  My work is physically and emotionally demanding, consisting of walk miles and miles in the heat and cold, punctuated by a few moments of terror when you’re in someone’s backyard and their Rottweiler charges you.  Scary?  A bit, but it’s over pretty quickly, one way or the other.  That’s not my fear.  You see, the new technology that will eventually eliminate me is pretty controversial.  There is a chance that my company will not be allowed to use it, and therefore not be allowed to eliminate my job.  And that’s my fear, that I’ll be stuck in this job forever.  No severance, no unemployment, no relief.

My mom.  Yeah, I nag her about what she eats and the medicine she takes.  It’s not that she’s living some party life, doing whatever she wants and her body be damned.  She tries her best to be healthy, but our ideas of “healthy” are polar opposites.  She’s whole grains and low fat.  I’m no grains and lots of good fats.  She takes statins to lower her cholesterol, and I quote studies showing high cholesterol makes women live longer.  So I know one day my mom will leave this world, but I would like to keep her here as long as possible and make that time more enjoyable for her.  My fear is that she’ll get tired of the help I try to give her, leaving her to live in pain, with me feeling frustrated and helpless.

What else.  Hmmm.  I’m not really afraid of dying.  Though I may not be the perfect representative of my faith, what with the cussing, sarcastic attitude and the whole “living in sin” thing, I’m still pretty sure I know where I’m going.  And if it turns out I’m wrong and there’s no heaven, what did I really lose?  What I am afraid of is not dying – of being in some horrific accident that leaves me horribly disfigured or unable to care for myself.  I know the people that love me, and they would absolutely step up to the plate.  And that’s my fear – that my family and friends will feel obligated to remain in my life, even when I can no longer contribute to their happiness or be the woman I was before.

I think that’s about it.  I fear my sons won’t be happy with their lives.  I guess that just means I’m a mom.  I fear the moment I realize I’ve never really achieved anything to speak of.
Oh, and I fear camel spiders.  Yep, camel spiders.  They’re huge and hairy with long front legs that look like lobster claws, and they chase you just to be in your shadow.

But at least I’m not afraid of cotton balls.

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