1. The saga of the luncheon vouchers
I get luncheon vouchers at work. Yeah, I know, it's just like the 1960s except noone in the office looks like Don Draper. ANYWAY. You have to collect your luncheon vouchers each month at designated times, and sign a piece of paper to confirm you, and noone but you, has the precious envelope of puzzlingly denominated meal tickets in your clammy hands. I have not managed to do this at any point in 2010. This is tantamount to throwing money in the bin, since they have a relatively rapid expiry date. Such is my maddening stupidity, I have even been given permission to go and collect them at non-designated time. I have not done this either. Several reasons. Firstly, I am ashamed. I have left it so long I look like a fuckwit (yes, correct, I am a fuckwit). Secondly, it requires me to go up to the third floor. I have developed an irrational terror of the third floor and now believe that to go up there will cause certain disaster. On the map in my mind the third floor is indicated with a skull and crossbones and the legend 'here be dragons'. Intellectually, I know that there is a pleasant lady who will hand me an envelope and make me sign a piece of paper. But the lizard brain is screaming DANGER! Why, lizard brain? Why?
2. The telephone
It is somewhere in the house. I know, because at one point the children rang me on it recently as I was walking the dog down the street, encouraging it to pee on all the neighbours' doorsteps.
"Yes, I rather hoped it was, because if it wasn't something would be badly wrong. I'm just standing outside the door whilst Oscar does caca, what do you want?"
"Ok. How about you hang up then?"
Since then it has been lost, deep in the bowels of the Poké-kingdom. I am relieved. I hate the telephone and have all but forgotten how to use it. It's like a malevolent household god that I am failing to honour. At least this one doesn't have voicemail. I'm not even going into my profound phobia of voicemail. I cannot, will not listen to voicemail. Like some kind of amazonian tribesperson, I believe voicemail will steal my soul. I cannot hear those voices Something Terrible will happen, you cannot make me, no no no. Speaking of no..
I cannot, must not, will not utter this word. What might happen? I DO NOT KNOW. Perhaps the very earth under my feet will tremble, Belgium will be split asunder and I will be cast into a fiery furnace for all eternity? Who knows? Not me because there is no way I will ever manage to say it. Sigh.
So I say 'yes' and hope it sounds sufficiently like no to get my message across. It doesn't. I create more distress and confusion than a polite and compassionate no ever could. Perhaps this works when I'm talking to someone as brokenly British as myself, but thankfully for the state of the universe and human relations, there aren't many as broken as me.
I used to be able to use the telephone (fear #2) to at least call Taxis Bleus. Now, due to an unfortunate fear #3 incident on Sunday which involved me failing to tell an old and insistent taxi driver that NO. I WILL NOT GO OUT FOR A DRINK WITH YOU, YOU ARE IN YOUR MID SIXTIES AND I AM THIRTY FIVE AND IN ANY CASE, JUST NO. I am utterly buggered. What if they send him? It might be a tiny probability, but that's probability enough for me. I mean, I've already had him twice in my five years in Brussels. It could totally happen again. I will probably be cornered into buying a car just to avoid this happening.
Sigh. Headslap. Moving on.
4. Other irrational fears
The lawnmower (I know I will lose a limb). The bank (obvious). Reading any official document relating to me. The Post Office (can't even analyse that particular one, satisfactorily, it's 100 yards away and always empty. Scarred by Paris, probably). Asking questions (terrible breach of etiquette! Oh, the pitfalls!). Knocking on the neighbours' door to ask if one of their perfectly aged, pocket money hungry, teenagers might like to babysit. Arranging social events (yes, with my FRIENDS, because how terrifying is that?).
Somewhere, in a tiny rational corner of my lizard brain, I know I COULD get over these fears. I got over my fear of sparklers (aged about 16, but I did get over it eventually). I am so blasé about maggots now that when I found one in my handbag after a monkey feeding, it barely registered. It can be done. I just, well. Not now.
Please make me feel better by telling me ways in which you are basically a medieval peasant. Thank you.