I used to have a phobia.
Aside from my (I like to think perfectly understandable) fear of heights, a lifetime feeling of discomfort about clowns, and a general dislike of all things creepy crawly, until I reached my early thirties, there was really only one thing which could strip away my manly facade to reveal the quivering coward beneath.
I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill 'Ew, take that away, it's making me nervous' kind of phobia. I'm talking about the gut-dropping, hands shaking, if I don't get away from here in the next few seconds I'm gonna scream like a little girl, out and out terror, that only a fellow phobic can understand.
I am, of course, referring to balloons.
I don't know when it started, but I've always suspected it had something to do with The Prisoner (follow this link if you'd like to see the show's intro), an otherwise excellent TV show from the 1960s, starring (and I think written by) the late Patrick McGoohan. The premise was that a spy (McGoohan) tries to resign, but someone drugs him. He wakes up to find himself in The Village, a bizarre prison on a picturesque island, where all the residents are given numbers instead of names.
Now, if you've never seen the show, you're most likely wondering what this has got to do with balloons.
The answer is simple: The evil masterminds who ran The Village had a unique way of keeping the residents under control. A giant balloon, which smothered troublemakers to death, as shown in this 50-second clip.
Thanks to a psychiatrist friend of mine, who kindly gave me a free visualization session back in the nineties, I no longer turn to jelly at the sight of a balloon, but reading kmarkhoover's post about the forthcoming remake brought those memories flooding back.
How about you?
What fears and phobias set your skin crawling?