Monday, March 4, 2013

Fear of Florida

Franklin Delano Roosevelt must have been a heck of a great guy to get elected as president four times, but still, he was so wrong about one thing in particular. His famous assertion that "there is nothing to fear but fear itself," elaborating further about a "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror," seems so naive in light of certain developments, including but not limited to terrorist attacks, tsunamis and Sarah Palin holding public office. These days, just when we adjust to the ordinary, run-of-the-mill horrors we might encounter at any moment, a newer, more horrible one shows up.

Like my old shrink always said, even though phobias are considered to be a mental disorder, having rational fears is not a bad thing. My fear of bee stings--I could die--is quite respectable. But scanning a list of recognized phobias, some of them do seem a tad nutty, like leukophobia, the fear of the color white, genuphobia, the fear of knees, and ephibiphobia, the fear of teenagers. (Okay, so that last one isn't all that crazy.)

Now I have a new fear that has not yet been named but certainly should be: Fear of going to bed and while you are sleeping having your entire bedroom swallowed up by a sinkhole. This is exactly what happened in suburban Tampa just last week, killing a 36-year-old landscaper named Jeff Bush. That is surely not what people mean when they say they hope to die at home in their own bed.

Surprisingly, the risk of sinkholes is fairly routine in Florida. Added to the movie "Jaws," the 1.2 million alligators in the canals and those ubiquitous, miniature crates of orange gumballs that say, "Greetings from Florida!" for sale everywhere, it's a wonder Disney World is still the world's most-visited entertainment resort. Now that's scary.

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