There’s something in this world that deeply wigs me out. It is strange that it does that because the thing that freaks me out so much should definitely be no big deal. But that’s what an irrational fear is all about: irrationality.
Here goes: I am disturbed when a pair of shoes are placed together on the floor with the right foot shoe on the lefthand side and the left foot shoe on the righthand side. See above, then see me turn my head away and shiver.
Wherefore, weirdo? Let me try — for the first time in my life — to explic the inexplicable.
It’s unusual to see feet going the wrong way, for one thing. But what’s unusual is often funny and I am amused by all manner of unusual things on a regular basis. This is not one of those things. Is it upsetting to me to see shoes in this way it because it looks painful? If there were feet in the shoes, it would be awfully painful. Now, feet will go that way when a person crosses her legs or performs some ballet moves, but just feet, on their own, backward like that? No. And that’s the other thing: when I see shoes placed in this manner, I automatically think about disembodied feet.
My sister Hannah hated the Dr. Suess book The Walking Pants. She would howl in fear when I would say “walking pants,” which of course I would do from time to time just to make sure she was listening to me. It’s a strange, almost grim tale of these empty pants that walk around the town. They’re green and a lot of the story takes place at night, if I’m remembering correctly. Perhaps my uncomfortability with this shoe thing has its roots in those dumb pants; the story frightened me, too.
This irrational fear is not a superstition, because a superstition means that you see something, in this case, that causes you to think there will be a consequence, usually a negative one. I don’t see shoes the wrong way and think, “Well, that’s that! I’ll be dead in a year!” or “Great, just great. I saw spooky shoes today and now I have to tie a goat to a tree and name my firstborn Jebediah. Just when I was on top of my email.” It’s not a superstition, it’s just an old-fashioned case of the willies.
When I used the words “disembodied feet,” it occurred to me I could have created a new, irrational fear in any number of people reading this blog. I hope that didn’t happen, because I’m telling you: this backward shoe configuration happens a lot. You can’t escape. The good news is that the more people afraid of something (e.g., mountain lions, witches, Tyra, etc.) the less irrational it is to be afraid of that thing.
Am I wrong? Is it not strangely disturbing or am I just strangely disturbed and no you do not have to answer that. (Also, the shoe thing is a fear; this is my actual phobia.)