I'm pretty sure I have a snake phobia.
A phobia is defined as an excessive and persistent fear, brought on by the presence or anticipation of a specific object.
Yep, snake phobia. However, I’m okay with that because I know I’m not alone. Fountaindawg also has a snake phobia. You should have seen her reaction to a snake-shaped ghord. It wasn't pretty. Clay Aiken has a ‘cat phobia’! We’re all phobic. We have a con.nec.tion! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Alright. Alright. Back to me ......
Somewhere … Out There …
I think I first realized I had issues with snakes in parochial school in my haste to paste over the Garden of Eden engraving in my catechism book. There were other clues as well, like the time I turned the "S" volume of the World Book Encyclopedia backwards so as to avoid the creepy snake photos. To this day, most likely I am ill informed on any subject between SN and SZ. (However, if it isn’t at Clay’s Official Fan Club, it isn’t important anyway!) I also remember avoiding the reptile exhibit during drawing classes at Carnegie Institute. All the other young artists would return to the instructor with snake and lizard drawings and I'd have snuck off to the Roman statue exhibit returning with a half naked male torso. As in drawing of a torso......from the waist up.....at the time I might have had a fig leaf phobia......
Richie, Did You Know?
The phobic situation or object is avoided or endured with anxiety or distress.
Fast-forward to my college summer job providing wildlife illustrations for a large nature center. A dream job illustrating hawks and falcons, the furry creatures of the forest, insect and plant life. A dream job if it wasn't for the fact I shared a lodge with an 8 ft. boa constrictor, the cherished pet of the park naturalist. Rich, the naturalist "walked" the boa past my studio every morning for a little exercise in the grass. I remember freezing at my drafting table, gasping for air, my pulse quickening and counting the seconds just waiting for the HUGE slithering creature to pass. To make matters worse Rich had a passion for rattlesnakes, he would capture them in the rocky cliffs and bring them back to the exhibit hall. Needless to say, I avoided that section of the hall.
Here, There & Everywhere!
The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
Of course there is no logic to my phobia. I know snakes are valuable to the balance of the ecosystem. I know that a snake is a friend to my garden. I know that the patterns and colors on a snake are a visual wonder for those inclined to stare at such a thing. I know that some see a primitive hypnotic beauty. Snakes may have a bum rap but lets face it, have you ever seen a good guy with the nickname of "Snake eyes"? Those weren't a pit full of furry little bunnies with Harrison Ford in the Temple of Doom. They were SNAKES. Was it a cute chipmunk that Harry Potter fought off in the Chamber of Secrets? No, it was a huge ooogly evil basilisk SNAKE!
My phobia is fed at every turn! Even Disney is in on the action. Kaa the villainous snake from Jungle book hypnotises the unsuspecting Mowgli and tries to make him his man-cub meal. There is Jafar's magical but evil snake staff in Aladdin. Cleopatra had her own pain in the asp.
My house sits on a serpent spa where snakes will warm their cool bodies, curled on the limestone boulders basking in the sun. As an enthusiastic gardener it's time to face the phobia or get out of the kitchen.....er garden.
Talking about it is the first step, and with my cohort, Fountaindawg, at my side who is equally put off by these creatures, we can do this. To a degree. We can't actually show pictures of snakes to illustrate the treatment for our phobia, because if we did that we wouldn't actually have....you know... a snake phobia. Now, pictures of Clay Aiken? We can spend hours looking at those! We’d like to feel altruistic in our oggli …perusal of our picture files, so in an effort to help Clay deal with one of his own phobias, the object of our discussion from this point onward will be CATS. No, not the musical CATS, the animal cat.
Bridge Over Snake-Infested Waters
There are several approaches to dealing with slightly phobic persons like ourselves and Clay. Based on research, I've drawn up a hierarchy of threatening situations so that we (Well actually just Clay, not US!) can confront the least feared situation first before moving on to the more threatening ones. For example, looking at a picture of a cartoon snake gives us little to no discomfort. So this would be step one. ACKKKKKKK! Maybe we’re not quite ready for that yet!
Fountaindawg, always the loyal friend and part time personal therapist (How scary is THAT?), has devoted her time and talent to developing a series of comfort situations for Clay’s phobia. Remember, these situations will eventually be associated with a snake to help cure our own phobia.
(See Clay Dictionary for time line.)
Ya gotta start somewhere.
Part 2: I Survived Treatment
Check back soon for the treatment phase.