Boys: And by boys, I mean boys. The twenty-something bearded and/or bespectacled brainiacs that I tend to get involved with now don’t scare me that much. (My mom likes to reassure me that they’re more afraid of me than I am of them, like ants!) But growing up, nothing could incite more terror in me than a pre-pubescent boy, smooth of skin and high of voice. An example: when I was eight, a boy passed me a note in Hebrew School that said he had a really big crush on me. I went to the bathroom and cried. A few days later, at my temple’s model Seder, we were seated at the same table and he gave me a ring in front of everyone and asked me to be his girlfriend. I burst into tears and then went home and had a temper tantrum. My reaction to these events made me think I was maybe a lesbian the next six years.
The SATs: In high school, I was in this really great “New Age Feel-Goodery” program where we didn’t have grades or tests and sat on couches and, like, rainbows instead of desks. Also, I remember a lot of Trust Falls. Anyway, I was never a great test taker, but after a month in this program, I was totally baffled by any normal school thing. I remember taking the PSATs and being all “What’s this? A PENCIL? You want me to do MATH PROBLEMS with this PENCIL? You don’t want me to write a poem with the ash of a cigarette and present it while dressed like Abby Hoffman? But…how will I…how does this…will we go camping after the Verbal section? I’m…so confused.” I was so scared of the SATs that I barely studied for them. Needless to say, my scores sucked, but I was so petrified of taking them again that I didn’t. Somehow I still managed to trick a good college into letting me get diarrhea from its dining hall food and read Toni Morrison every year for four years. Those fools!
Being Framed for Murder: I watch a lot of Law and Order, so I know this is a very real possibility. I also know to lawyer up immediately, so I should be okay if it happens.
Dogs: Little ones, big ones. Even puppies. Don’t get me started on puppies. This was especially terrible when I was little. I think I thought they’d kill me. I’d get so scared of dogs that I’d sprint away from any that I’d see, which made them chase me, which made me run faster, which made…you get the point. Interestingly enough, I’ve only been bitten twice by a dog, once when I was 16 and once when I was 22. And by the first dog bite, I’d been over my fear for some time. (So unafraid was I that I ignored a “Beware of Dog” sign.) I’m not scared of dogs anymore, but I feel uncomfortable around them, mostly because I just never learned how to interact with canine companions. When dogs come up to me, I stare at them and say weird things like “Well, hi there, dog!” with my hands in my pockets. When people tell me to pet their pups, I just place a hand on the dog’s back. “Yes, very nice,” I’ll say. The exceptions to this rule are Missy and Shelly, two dogs who I’ll pet any day. I like to think they know my scent and are always happy to see me. Or maybe that’s their owners.
Being Naked in Front of People I’m Not Having Sex With: I blame this on the time a really old lady’s thigh grazed mine while in the communal dressing room at Loehman’s and also on the fact that I’m a neurotic Jew who has never much liked her body.
Flying: There is a special place in heaven for anyone who has to fly with me. The minute I step into an airport, I turn into a raging, heinous lunatic. There’s lots of hyperventilating and lots of Valium. I’m generally a meek and mild person who speaks in a whisper and apologizes to chairs I bump into, but in airports I’m not afraid to Make a Scene. I’ll loudly snap at my loved ones things like “What? Do I want another Valium? Fucking duh. Of course I want another fucking Valium,” or “Yeah, well I don’t give a fuck who’s listening.” It’s not cute! I am not proud of this behavior, but I also hate flying, so whatever.
Losing a Tampon Inside of Me: This used to scare me so much that the first time I used a Tampon, I left half of it sticking out of me and walked around an amusement park all day like that. That, um…hurt. This is, admittedly, an irrational fear, partly because it’s impossible and partly because I don’t use tampons. But still!
Drinking So Much That I Throw Up: I’ve performed the Boot and Rally frequently, but on only one occasion have I thrown up unintentionally from drinking. It was at a Fourth of July party when I was sixteen. Now, I’ve been drinking since I was fourteen and still get shitfaced after one beer, and my tolerance was even lower back then. I was drinking so much that my friend, who would later go to rehab for a drinking problem, told me to “slow down.” I did not listen. I also didn’t eat anything before or during the seven hours that I spent drinking. At the end of the night, I was fooling around with a boy and threw up all over him. (I do not regret this, mostly because he vomited on me emotionally for the previous two years and would continue to do so for the next three.) And then I threw up in a bag of birthday presents for our host’s little brother because I thought it was a trashcan. Then I threw up in the backyard. And then in the driveway. After someone drove me home, I threw up eight more times in our downstairs bathroom sink. The next day I ate half a slice of white pizza and prayed quietly for death.
Rain: I was pretty afraid of rain and clouds when I was younger, I think from age 7 to maybe 9. This was really more than a fear—I’d have straight up panic attacks when it would rain. I don’t know why. I think I thought it meant the world was ending or something. Nowadays, I appreciate a good cloudy day and a nice thunderstorm, of course. Galoshes are adorbs, no duh! I don’t know how this started either, or why it ended. One day I was afraid and then one day I just wasn’t. Even if it was a gorgeous day, I’d suddenly have trouble breathing and would be unable to focus on anything else if a single fluffy cloud appeared in the sky. Because of this, my family started calling days where there isn’t a cloud in the sky “Molly Kind Of Days.” Sometimes I get texts from my dad that say “real Molly kinda day!” I like this because it comforts me, still.