Some people are scared of things that go bump in the night. They check the closets and under the bed before jumping under the covers, sleeping with the light on. Others are germaphobes, who are certain that each doorknob they twist and hand they shake is teeming with viruses that would rival any dark age plague. And there are those whose fears are more banal, but no less worrisome: The fear of heights, confined spaces, loneliness, clowns, failure, conflict, rejection, public speaking, and death.
I, myself, am not afraid of any of these things. But that doesn’t make me special. Instead, I seem suffer from what some would label as an “irrational fear”.
I’m afraid of manhole covers.
There. I said it. Manhole covers.
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, hidden in a dark fold of grey matter where the most primal of instincts has a direct feed into my nervous system, where the “fight or flight” response is ready to kick into action at the first sight of a sabre tooth tiger or a velociraptor, this fear of manhole covers lurks like a shadow on my soul.
Ya see, in my mind, I’m going to step on a manhole cover and the bottom will immediately drop out from underneath me, sending me plummeting down to depths unknown, where I’ll break my legs upon impact of some smooth, concrete tunnel deep underground. My cries for help will go unnoticed in the world above, and I’ll suffer alone in a forgotten part of the city’s infrastructure until shock or dehydration takes me.
Most people can understand, and even relate to, a fear of the dark, wild ghosties and beasties, graveyards, and drowning, but manhole covers? Yeah, that’s usually a new one.