Lunchtime Poll

Lunchtime Poll: Fish Are Scary

Looking to shake up your week? Try this game of truth or dare.

Truth: What’s your most irrational fear? Mine is fish. I’m cool with eating them and looking at them from above. Small aquariums filled with tiny fish are fine. But put me in front of a large aquarium with large fish or in a body of water that potentially has fish, and I will have a hard time staying calm. I think I’m starting to grow out of this fear, which is great since it’s a bit embarrassing, but I don’t think I’ll be snorkeling any time soon.

Dare: Do something that scares you, however small. Maybe it’s making a phone call to touch base with that person you really want to be your friend, or maybe it’s something big, like skydiving. Either way, tell me about it in the comments.

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

28 replies on “Lunchtime Poll: Fish Are Scary”

Why are so many people scared of fish?? I mean, I know a lot of people are (and have told me so on repeated occasions), and maybe it’s because I am a fish/river/lake/marine ecologist, but I always wonder what it is about fish that scare people. Despite what movies lead you to believe pirhanas don’t live in your local body of water (okay, unless you’re reading this somewhere in the Amazon Basin) and fish don’t really have teeth (okay, expect for pike, but I won’t go into that…). If anything they’ll kind of headbutt your leg if you’re standing still for a long time near their nest, but that’s about it.

Personally, I have a good old-fashioned fear of clowns and being electrocuted (specifically, I will really freak out if I lean against a wall when sitting and realize my hair is really close/over an outlet. What if it got in there somehow and I got electrocuted THROUGH MY HAIR and couldn’t stop it?? note: I have no idea if this is even possible. doesn’t matter. irrationality.) and recently I’m discovering how much fear of trust I have (not sure how irrational that one is though).


I can’t even tell you where this phobia comes from because I’ve never (never) been on a plane and so haven’t had a bad experience. I’ve also had this fear my whole life so it’s not some post-9/11 thing. I can’t even go into airports without starting to get nervous/cry/freak out.

Also going over bridges freaks me out, although I’ve been getting better with this over the past few years.

Truth: I have a fear of swimming in large bodies of water. I’m ok with swimming pools, but not ponds, rivers, lakes, and oceans. I can go on a boat and I love to go kayaking, but I start getting panicky if I even put my foot in the water. I was raised in a city that was at the edge of a desert with no rivers or lake nearby and I didn’t learn how to swim until I was thirteen.

Dare: Mhmm…It’s not too daring but I’m going back to college and I had class today. Honestly, I was little worried I’d have a hard time catching up again.

A fellow ichthyophobe! Hooray! Well, not really, because phobias suck, but you know what I mean. I have had an unreasonable fear of fish for years. Like you, I don’t mind eating them, and I don’t really mind seeing aquariums of small (like 3 inches or less) fish, but the bigger they or the aquariums are, the more freaked out I get. I can’t be around more than 2 or so aquariums at any given time.

And the biggest offender? Lion fish. If I see a real one or even a big, clear picture of one I will have a panic attack.

I have an irrational fear of mold on food. If I even suspect that that tiny speck of coloring might be mold, whatever it is has to be tossed. Also, my brain is convinced that as soon as something from the freezer starts to thaw, it’s gone bad. Unfortunately this keeps me from saving money from buying in bulk or having left overs. The likelihood that I’m getting bad food from a restaurant is probably higher than cooking at home, but if I don’t know it’s bad, or didn’t see it thaw, I’m ok. If I know it was questionable then I can’t eat it.

My other fear is being buried/cremated alive. I told my sister that if I die before her, she has to make them wait at least 3 days, and then stab and/or shoot me so that they can be 10000000% sure that I’m dead. She thinks I’m joking, but I’m serious.

I used to be really bad about this too. My sister would try and force me to talk to people on the phone by refusing to make calls herself. As in: “We aren’t having pizza for dinner unless you make the phone call.” I would agonize about it forever. Thank the high heavens that they invented online ordering! I hate calling to order food!

Uuuhm, sometimes, waking up, I worry that BF may have died in his sleep, so I have to check that he’s still breathing. I don’t think it’s all that irrational as far as fears go. As is not wanting to go into any kind of water where I cannot see the bottom, because, you know, corpses and stuff, and also, I suck at swimming.

Claustrophobia might be irrational, I guess. Relatively speaking, I’m fairly small and flexible, but I don’t like tight spaces. I don’t even know how bigger people deal with airplane toilets and the like. In my case, it really comes out when the tight spaces are made of stone or underground. Really narrow medieval stairwells, you know, the kind that run inside the walls of old churches and castles, give me an unpleasant adrenaline rush, the shivering and hyperventilating kind. Any caves, catacombs, mines turned into museums, no thank you.

fear: not sure anymore. I had a hate of spiders when I was younger but that ended when I lived with a bunch of girls in college that all screamed and cowered at a spider so I had to be the brave one and release it into the wild…or kill it depending one what was at hand and if I had shoes.  I often have irrational panic about starting a teaching job. ( know the root lies with a horrible person that told me I was awful and worthless, but I still have a panic attach when I apply, before I interview, or the first day of school)

Dare- I might e-mail a person that I haven’t talked to in a couple of years to reach our the branch of friendliness.

I’m terrified of falling backwards and of caves. The backwards thing ended my budding gymnastics career early on. /sigh and I had such a good round-off. Too bad I couldn’t ever get that silly back handspring down.  As for the caves, I worked on that during undergrad (It’s amazing what I’ll do in the name of Science! and when getting paid).

Truth: Bananas! No, seriously…

I’m growing out of it, but it used to be really bad. I just naturally hate their taste/smell but a few specific incidents when I was really little made me absolutely disgusted by them. Most noatbly, around age 3 my mom tried to make me eat one since they’re soooo damn healthy, and so I hid it in my room. In July. With 85 degree weather and no AC. And open windows. So of course, when I found it later, it was rotten and covered in maggots. I still almost retch remembering the sight.

When this fear was discovered in high school, my friends would prank me by putting the peels in my locker. I dunno–it would make me so violently gag when I tried to eat them, that I generally avoided them at all costs. Like I said, it’s better now. I can sit next to someone eating one. I just ask all my coworkers not to put the peels in my trashcan.

I guess if I chose the dare, I could try to eat one. That shit ain’t happening.


Edited to add gross story :)

Truth: Miller moths. I can barely think about them without shuddering. My sister used to pinch her fingers together (sans moth) and chase me around claiming she was holding one. I was 3-years old. I know when there is one on the room because me family will get really quiet, look at me with stern faces, and tell me to stay calm. That is my cue to run screaming to the other room with my arms covering my head, or throw a blanket over myself and cower until it is dead. We once had an awesome lab who would chase and eat them. I am getting slightly better about it too, in my old age.

Moths and E.T. But that is a whole different childhood trauma story!

Dare: I will think about it and get back to you…

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