Sunday, November 18, 2007

What are your strange fears?

I recently learned that a friend is afraid of toy balloons. I didn't ask her to explain exactly what she's afraid of, but I understand having weird little chinks in our armor. One of my mom's friends gets the heebie-jeebies at the sound of a clothespin on wet fabric. For me, it's filing. Not the manila folder kind of filing – nail filing.

Ever since I was a child I have been downright phobic of it. Not only can't I file my own nails, I couldn't watch or hear someone else filing theirs. Not in person and not even on television! If someone on TV was casually filing her nails I would close my eyes and sing the la la song.

You'd be surprised how many times it happens. Because nail filing is the universal symbol of boredom, TV writers and actors would take that shortcut at every turn. I missed a lot of plot if it happened too often. Whole scenes in film and TV are a blur. I barely saw any of Carol Burnett's "Mrs.-a Whiggins" sketches with Tim Conway because she filed throughout the sketches.

It is far worse, though, when it's in person. Most of my friends are understanding when I tell them of my phobia, and keep me from seeing files and emery boards. They do their dirty deed away from view. Actually, it's the 'view' thing they usually focus on, not realizing the sound of filing is just as toxic to me. Sometimes they think because my back is turned they can sneak in a quick repair. As soon as they do, I start to shake, cover my ears, close my eyes and beg them to stop.

"But you can't even see me!"
"I can hear you! Please, I'm begging, stop!"
"Okay, okay, I put it away."

One friend decided my phobia was silly, stupid, and something I'd made up. As if I'd invent something as silly and stupid as a fear of nail filing just for kicks. She refused to honor my requests to stop, would whip out a file at a moment's notice and deride me as I turned into a quivering mass of jelly. I could never understand why a small warning so that I could go to another room was such an inconvenience. I haven't seen that friend in quite awhile. It isn't because of the filing, although her attitude does show a fundamental problem.

So how do I do fingernail maintenance? I use a clipper. I'm a master at shaping and trimming nails into perfect arcs with a nail clipper. Oh, and just so you know: there's no picture of a nail file on this entry because even the sight of one gives me the heebie-jeebies. I don't want to have to avoid my own blog.

So tell me – what are your strange fears? Trust me, I won't judge you. I've had enough people judging me for mine in my life that it's the last thing I'd ever do. These little chinks in our armor may be funny to others ("How could you be afraid of that?") but they're very serious to us.

29 comments:

bunnygirl said...

My fear isn't very strange, but it's sure inconvenient. I freak out over hypodermic needles. I especially freak out over having blood drawn from the crook of my elbow. I've often had to lie down to keep from fainting, and I'll spend hours afterwards not wanting to move my arm and feeling like I've been violated in some way.

But the really odd thing is that when I had outpatient surgery and they wanted to use the vein in my hand, I was like, "Sure, no problem!" The nurse was a trainee and missed the vein several times and I was only mildly annoyed. (I've got terrific veins, btw.)

Maybe I was just relieved not to be getting stuck in that icky crook-of-elbow place, but it was strange that a needle-phobe like me didn't at all mind getting poked at repeatedly like that.

Phobias are strange things.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

They are indeed. It's good that you know there's a way out for you in the future. Maybe you won't have to endure the elbow crook any longer.

Thanks for chiming in!

Jennie Adams said...

Not phobic, exactly, but I can't be near flickering lights. Just as well my disco days had ended anyway ;-)

Jennie

milve1432 said...

I know exactly how you feel! I am scared stiff of nail files but it also extends to sandpaper. Do you get this too? My fella thinks its highly amusing but does respect it and will only get his andpaper out when i'm out of the house. It's horrible and i'm cringing now just thinking about it! It is nice to finally know i'm not alone though!

john said...

OMG ME TOO!!!
i'm not really afraid of the files themselves, but filing, i hate hearing/seeint/thinking about people filing their nails... but i can get a pedicure.... idk

Joanna Sandsmark said...

I understand completely, milve and john. Phobias can't be tucked into little compartments and told what they can and cannot cover. Sandpaper -- sounds reasonable to me. I'm not wild about it but I had to do sanding in a job a long time ago and got over that. John, interesting that you can handle a pedicure. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason.

Sierra said...

I have a really weird fear of the Hollywood Sign, the one on the hill. It's really weird, but whenever I see a picture of it, or a video, or something on TV, I get really cold and sometimes shake or gasp. Sometimes I'll google pictures of it to scare myself for fun, but then I regret it. I have never found anybody else with this fear.

Anonymous said...

I get really scared of glitter, I won't touch or any thing, at school we had to do thi thing with glitter and some people got it all over them selves i i would'nt go near them.... i think it was something from Kidergrden....hmmm..
Im also afraid of needles, and seringes, im okay if i have them to get a splinter out or what ever, but if someone else has them...... ugh.
I get freaked about open wordrobe doors but not like normal doors... hmmmm

Nicole said...

I swear on my life that my fear is the exact opposite! I'm afraid of nail clippers. I came across this page because I googled "fear of nail clippers." It's a silly thing to look up, but I was curious if there was a name for my strange phobia. It's interesting that people out there are opposite of me. On another note, I'm also afraid of Canadian geese. The honking, hissing, and everything about them terrifies me. I'm glad other people understand that phobias aren't anything you can control, and that making fun of people for them is very mean.

Katie said...

How strange to actually find people with the same thing! I've been terrified of nail files for year - the cheap red emery boards being the worst but all kinds doing me real nerve damage! My mother once asked me to go to her coat pocket to retrieve her keys and I touched an emery board she had left in there and was sick because of that! The worse times are airplanes - where beauty conscious women seem to think it's the perfect time to get some pruning in. Makes an already nervous moment unbearable. The last woman I sat by filed - even when I had my fingers in my ears loudly saying I hated it! She then used it as a bookmark after - all that chafing! And sandpaper exactly the same..... horrible.....

Joanna Sandsmark said...

I never knew anyone else afraid of files, so I agree that it is comforting, in a way, Knowing we're not alone is a good thing.

Valina said...

This is amazing.....my wife made me type "phobia of nail filing" into google, and up popped this site.

I have a bit of an issue with women filing their nails. One day, the wife even surprised me by trying to file mine. One stroke was all she got, and I broke her file.

I noticed all the people posting here are ladies...so maybe I'm really unique. I guess I'm the only guy (not a sissy) with this problem here...but nail files make my hair stand on end!!! This awful feeling just shoots through me, especially into my teeth! I think I would rather have my fingernails pulled out, than filed. Seriously.

How the hell did this happen??

Joanna Sandsmark said...

Don't worry, Valina, not all the posters were women. One is named John, and there are a couple of others whose screen names aren't gender specific. It's possible more women have the fear, but there are definitely men in that list, as well.

For me, I find it fascinating that so many of us file-haters are tumbling out of the ether to this blog post. I anxiously await whoever else will do a bit of Googling on this subject.

Bethany said...

wow. this is so weird! i never knew that anyone else had this same fear!! ..i have been terrified of sandpaper and nail files since i was a kid. My boyfriend makes fun of me for it, but i cant help it. If i accidentally touch a nail file or sandpaper, i have to go touch something else; like wipe my hands on my jeans..or more preferably something soft. It truly is the grossest feeling ever, it goes into my skin, makes my hair stand on end, and goes right to my teeth! Even just thinking about it is weirding me out. yuck! =S

Joanna Sandsmark said...

When I get an alert that someone's responded to this blog, I always know which post was most likely to be the reason why. I had no idea so many people shared my file phobia, but I'm glad I put it out there. It's nice for all of us to know we're not alone.

Nice to meet you, Bethany, and as you've discovered, there are quite a few of us.

-- Joanna

Anonymous said...

Im really really really afraid of nail clippers. I googled fear of nail clippers and this was the best that came up. I've heard of nobody with a fear of nail clippers and everybody i tell thinks Im weird because of it. But i was kind of happy to see the one person on here who said they are like this too! i just feel sick to my stomach and I shiver and get that weird "nails on chalkboard" feeling in my teeth even thinking about nail clippers. Im 17 and when my mom wants to clip my finger or toenails i scream and cry and run and hide. the end

Anonymous said...

^ oh and also balloons!

Joanna Sandsmark said...

You've come to the right place, Anon. One person has posted about a fear of nail clippers. I'm sure there are plenty more out there. We all appear to have a similar reaction to our fear-producing tools, too. Ragged nails are a small price to pay for avoiding those... objects.
-- Joanna

Janelle said...

I did a search on "nail file phobia" and it brought me to your blog. It's definitely nice to know I'm not alone.
Too many times, my mom has just "secretly" started to file her nails when I've been in the room and laughed at me for cringing and leaving the room, not understanding my phobia. I'm also terrified of spiders to the point that I can't kill one (what if it jumps on me? Plus, looking at it for so long...eek)... I've gotten to the point that I've had to compare my fears with her only phobia of snakes.
"Mom, could you hold and touch a snake, and sleep comfortably with one slithering around your room at night? No? Well, I could! But I need you to kill that spider for me - and quit filing your nails!"
It's hard for people to empathize with other people's phobias. I have to admit, unless it's a poisonous snake within striking distance, I'm fine with snakes. I could sleep in a bed full of Gardner snakes even, but if I saw a spider
(or centipede for that matter) down the hall earlier, I'll be up all night. It's those legs... eek

Katie said...

I have this fear too! My nail clippers have this little metal thing with groves in it that is used for filing, and that doesn't creep me out as much, but the cheap brown gritty emery boards are terrifying!

Joanna Sandsmark said...

Don't worry, Katie, as you can see, you're not alone. Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

I have a fear of files, not just nail files but them too. I can not bring it to myself to file anything. I think I am going to fail metal work because I can't use the file or emery cloth (sand paper). I can't find out what my fear of files is called but I really want to find out. I also have a fear of nails scraping down chalkboards I don't know why just makes me want to either throw up or cry, don't judge me?

Min said...

I'm terrified of nail files too - and nail clippers and/or scissors. Anybody shortening their fingernails in any way freaks me out. I can manage toenails *if* I have nice sharp nail scissors, and I can even manage having pedicures, but the thought of having a manicure brings me out in a cold sweat. I manage my own fingernails by breaking an edge (or waiting for one to break) and sort of pulling it off in a smooth curve? Ironically, this means my nails are quite long, and I'm often complimented on them!

margaret conner said...

I am terrified of nail files too. I can't see them on TV either, I need to change the channel or turn the TV off. I thought I was the only one. I can't even go in other peoples purses in case I accidentally touch one.I've had some people think it was funny and plant one somewhere on purpose! other people laugh and think it's crazy. the metal files aren't so bad but I don't actually like them either. my phobia extends to those little coffee stirrers the wood ones. I will use a straw or a spoon or even my finger before one of those. it's nice to have others out there like myself. does anyone else's phobia extend to the coffee stirrers? let me know Thanks!

Joanna Sandsmark said...

Because I never realized anyone else had a nail file phobia, I'm sure there are those who don't like coffee stirrers, either. I think the world isn't diverse enough to have a phobia no one else has.

Meanwhile, this thread continues to be the most popular on the blog. Fascinating, isn't it?

Eric H said...

The thought of having the nail clippers used on anyones nails, including my own is enough for me to turn away,leave the room and try to get the thought out of my head. Once i do remove this thought. The next one goes through my mind everytime like clockwork. This thought is having those same nail clippers used to take bits of skin and body tissue out of myself. Owwy.- please just file nails. They don't need to be clipped. Especially when there is nothing guarding the sharp edges, which could cause serious injury.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

Fear not, Eric, we non-filers will do it well out of your sight. Isn't it surprising how many people have fears around these otherwise innocuous items. As a file-fearer, I truly understand.

Unknown said...

I have a fear of nail clippers, escalators, dark water that I can't touch the bottom of, and bright open spaces with lots of people. The last one doesn't help when I voluntarily was a part of my high school drama program as a part of the technical staff and I worked on spot light. And the fact that I'm afraid of heights as well just made it worse.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

The Unknown shares our phobia and a few extra. On this blog, there's nothing wrong with a phobia or two. You're welcome here.