Fear Itself, John Moore

Columnist John Moore isn’t afraid of black cats. He has one named Cola.

A granddaddy long legs climbed onto my face while I was out brush hogging on the tractor.

I’d like to apologize to the neighbor for his fence, chicken house, doghouse, clothesline, and for leaving the scene of an accident.
I’d also like to apologize to my wife for laughing at her fear of spiders.
Generally, I have no fear of members of the arachnid family (certain politicians excluded), but that hot morning sitting atop 37 horses of diesel engine, I did.
I’m not afraid of much. Heck, I’ve jumped out of an airplane. But there is one thing I can’t stand. This is where Indiana Jones and I share something.
Snakes. I hate snakes.
Now I know that all of God’s creatures have a purpose. But if I find a snake, he has two choices: Outrun me, or go sleeping with the fishes.
I always thought the mafia did a disservice to ichthyology by using that euphemism. It has nothing to do with either sleeping or fish. It drags perfectly innocent sea creatures into a very heinous act.
But it’s a great way to make a point. Great enough that I use it when describing vacating a snake from my presence.
If you haven’t seen any of the Indiana Jones movies, he encounters just about every possible creature nightmare man has ever had.
Snakes, spiders, and in the newest movie, eels. Now I don’t want to reveal too much more about the final Indiana Jones movie, other than to say there’s a scene where he almost winds up sleeping with the fishes.
Growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, we were very close to Millwood Lake. We used to go there for family gatherings every hot and humid summer to cook hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, and make homemade ice cream.
If we were going to go swimming, we had to do that before we ate because our mom’s believed that if you went swimming after eating you’d get stomach cramps and die.
We now know that that isn’t true. Any more than sitting too close to the TV while watching the Three Stooges will make you go blind. But it’s what our mom’s believed so that’s how it was.
Nowadays, you can’t go swimming in Lake Millwood at all. Not because of stomach cramps, but because of alligators.
Now that is a fear that a lot of kids had when I was coming up. At the time, it was completely unfounded. But some Wisenheimer decided to turn alligators loose in the lake, so now it’s real.
One other fear a lot of us had as kids was quicksand. Turns out, quicksand is far less of a risk than it once was made out to be.
Any Tarzan movie clearly showed that greedy, bad, and mean people always meet their demise in quicksand.
Sure, they can get away with lots of bad things for the first half of the picture, but eventually they’ll go under screaming, while the leading lady, Jane, buries her face in Tarzan’s shoulder. All that’s left is their hat.
I knew a kid who was afraid of cats. Never really understood that one. Given the opportunity, a good cat will ignore you. But this guy was terrified of them.
The only time I was afraid of a cat was if it was black and walking under a ladder by a broken mirror.
But superstitions are for another column.
Jumping out of an airplane had always been something I wanted to do. So several years ago when I finally did it, I asked my father to come watch.
He began to question the intelligence of his son. It was here that I learned that my dad had a big fear of heights.
I never knew this until then. I was surprised. But then, most kids think their father is fearless, and dad’s generally don’t let them know otherwise.
There was no way my kids couldn’t know that I am afraid of snakes.
A rat snake was doing his job one morning by crawling into my workshop. I had no idea he was in there until I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.
Now, I’m lying on the floor underneath a lawn tractor working. I generally take my time to get off of a shop floor, but this particular morning there was no delay.
After speaking in what likely sounded like a foreign language to him, I shot the snake.
A lot.
One of my kids has a fear of anything that has a stinger and flies. The other seems to fear little. But I’m sure he has a fear.
Like I now seem to have with granddaddy long legs. Enough that there are some repairs I need to take care of.
We all have fears. I think God mixes them up amongst us so that all of us don’t run away from the same thing.
Somebody’s got to hang around and send the snakes to sleep with the fishes.
©2023 John Moore
John’s books, Puns for Groan People and Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on his website – TheCountryWriter.com, where you can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.