To woo hoo the upcoming release of my romantic comedy, Driving in Neutral —a love story about claustrophobia—(now available for pre-order!) I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. Today author and pink beanie wearer, Lily Malone, take the aisle seat.
There’s not much that can scare me when I have my beanie on… but there is one thing that puts heebie-jeebies under my little pink hat. Crowds. Particularly crowds that I cannot get out of in a hurry, aka: cinema crowds or theatre seats or conferences, or anything to do with aeroplanes.
I don’t go to cinemas much, but there was a time pre-children when for three New Year’s Eves in a row, hubby and I went to episodes 1, 2 and 3 of Lord Of The Rings so I could ogle Aragorn and, oops… I think I switched posts for a second there from 75 days of phobias to 2 hours of hobbits and eye-candy with swords, sorry Sandra.
Right. If I’m to attend a cinema, or a theatre show, or a concert, or anything where large numbers of people are all required to share a confined space in tight proximity with each other, I must have an aisle seat, and I must satisfy myself that I can reach the nearest exit (Holy CRAP, Lily, ME TOO! ) should need arise. Like, fire, or flood… or if I feel the need to vomit (I just want to be able to get out if there’s an emergency, Lily).
For me, I trace this fear of crowds in confined spaces (or is my phobia rightly vomiting in confined spaces?) back to high school. I went through a stage where I was petrified I was going to throw up in class (the fear of vomiting is Emetophobia). Like, honest to goodness nausea on cue at age 15 which was about when I discovered I liked boys more than horses and I really didn’t want to throw up on their feet (the boys’ feet that is, horses put up with most things I threw at them).
These days I’m glad to say it’s nowhere near as bad. I don’t think I went to a cinema at all for years after high school until I remember agreeing to a date with a bloke in the UK who took me to Silence Of The Lambs. I was so freaked out by that movie, I forgot about what might happen if I couldn’t get out of my seat in time and puked on the guy’s shoes. Plus, as it turned out, the guy deserved puke on his shoes and … anyhoo, I digress.
I find a couple of pre-event glasses of champagne (and aforesaid advanced confirmation of an aisle seat near the exit) eases my anxiety about crowds. Any more than two glasses though is a recipe for double disaster because it’s always that damn sneaky third glass that crosses the invisible line between dancing in the aisle rather than puking in it. (Aren’t you glad you invited me to do this post, Sandra?)
In February this year, we went with lovely friends to see Bruce Springsteen at the Perth Arena – an activity ripe for crowd phobia relapse. My friend recently said to me: “I saw you had the aisle seat at the concert. I thought it was because you wanted to dance?”
“Nah,” I said. “It was so I could get out in a hurry if I felt like I might puke on your shoes.”
Bless her little heart, she thought I was joking.