Beyond the Triangle


Acrophobia-Fear of Heights

Acrophobia-Fear of Heights


“I have rented a Mercedes for France,” my husband cheerily told me several days before we were to begin our driving holiday.

“Make sure it’s not red,” I warned.

“Yes,” he responded, remembering full well that a psychic reading decades ago now prevented me from ever riding in the sexiest car on earth.

“Do you own a red sports car?” the psychic had asked me.

“No,” I answered.

“Don’t ever get in one.”

“Why,” I asked.

“Because you’ll die,” he said.

Okay, I don’t need to be told twice. Who says something like that unless it could be true?

So, a short time after that, I was awaiting the arrival of a rental car at my hotel when a red one pulled up. Why did fate taunt me so? I immediately dismissed the driver and went back to my room to call the car rental company.

“Hi, you’ve just delivered a red rental to my hotel and I need to get a new one.”

“Is there a problem?” asked the agent.

“I’m superstitious.”

“Would you like the replacement car tonight or is tomorrow morning good enough?”

Ahhhh. No hesitation there at all. No argument. Or sniggering.  Wise people know some battles cannot be won. Only surrendered.

Because you can’t cure crazy.

Just before flying into San Francisco once to visit a great friend I was forced by fear to refuse her kind offer of a ride home from the airport as she owned a red Porsche.

“Don’t worry,” she laughed. “I’ve rented another car. It’s white.”

Phobic people are everywhere. A childhood friend of mine who was tough enough to work in law enforcement and carry a kick ass gun is scared to death of planes. Despite therapy, she would often set off days earlier than her colleagues driving hundreds of miles to her work destination just so she wouldn’t have to fly. Now, this woman is educated and brave. She has a master’s degree, plays classical piano, is bi-lingual and used to arrest bad guys. But no amount of intellectual cajoling is going to free her from her fear.

As my phobia was psychic-induced and not the result of personal trauma you’d think I could find a way around it. I mean, who really believes in what any psychic tells you.

Unless you start to consider that psychics are not in the business of giving you bad news, I think. They prefer to seduce you into follow up sessions with hopeful promises such as “I see Mr. Dreamy right around the corner.”  You will undoubtedly keep coming back repeatedly to coordinate the exact longitude and latitude of said corner until “he” finally shows up as promised.

But something as definitive as “Warning Will Robinson: ‘RED CAR EQUALS DEATH’ needs no further explanation or, for that matter, continued costly psychic counseling sessions. I believe my psychic’s vision was so strong that had he not forewarned me he would have been unable to live with himself. I mean he was spot on about the only other prediction he made- that I would not marry the man I was engaged to-so why doubt him now.

The first date with the man I actually did marry almost didn’t happen when he ushered me toward the door of his, YES, red sports car. Embarrassed, but resolved to stay alive, I confessed my fear. He, hoping I suspect, that the night could still end better than it had begun instantly rustled up an automotive alternative-his friend’s Bentley. It was a super night.

Some research shows that about 6 to 18 percent of us suffer from some phobia. The non profit, Mental Health America (MHA)  says “Specific phobias include persistent fear of dogs, insects, or snakes; driving a car; heights; tunnels or bridges; thunderstorms; and/or flying.. No one knows what causes them, though they seem to run in families and are slightly more prevalent in women.” So, are ovaries of course. Not that that matters either.

Other research shows that 50% of us are superstitious. Katie Koerner writes on-line in that “In China, people planning weddings avoid dates with the number four, which sounds like the Chinese word for “death.” Closer to home, “Fifty percent of Americans admit to being superstitious, meaning they believe in the significance of some event without any rational explanation. While this behavior may seem silly from the outside, Research suggests superstition can help give us a sense of control over our lives and even boost our confidence.”

Many people also believe in destiny-51% in fact, according to That there is a reason they have been put on this earth. It is not a stretch then to suppose our fate is somehow tied to our superstitions or instincts and that they are there for a reason and so we should listen to them. Faith and doubt are intrinsic human emotions.

There have been times when my resolve has been uncomfortably tested and I have been coerced into a wine colored sedan with the suggestion that that Buick is not exactly red and certainly not sporty. Or had to take the path just crossed by a black cat. But I am generally as steadfast in my commitment to my phobias as I am to my belief that I and the decisions I make control my destiny.

But why take a chance if I feel better avoiding one?

Like the other day when I was walking into my apartment building and saw a ladder propped up over the outer door. I performed an act of profound acrobatic skill shimmying my way astride, but not actually beneath it, when I caught the eye of a nearby workman.

“I’m not really walking underneath the ladder, right? I asked him.

“Technically, you’re not,” he said. “But, why don’t I move it anyway.”

Why not indeed.


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