Phobias. Such fierce fucks.
The length we travel to avoid fear is often by way of irrational distress.
My phobia, which has resulted in therapy and numerous panic attacks, seems foolish. It’s taxidermy. This ancient art of killing an innocent animal for sport, then stuffing and mounting its head on the wall as a trophy knocks the wind straight out of me. (Greek origins translates it to the arrangement of skin. Sweet fancy Moses that’s gross.)
I often hear, “Yeah, it grosses me out too.” Or, “I hate hunting, I get it.”
No you don’t. My crippling fear of a deer head nailed to a wall does not originate from the sport, the dismemberment or the disgust. I could venture guesses on how this fear originated, as I grew up visiting relatives who are cowboys and hunters, but an antlered animal head has never chased me, so who knows. (Actually they have. More on that later.)
The phobia came to a head in high school when I made a pit stop at a North Dakota mart for a soda while on a road trip. I walked to the fountain, made my Dr. Pepper and headed to pay when I noticed an elk head the size of fucking Minnesota above the cashier’s mug. The Dr. Pepper dropped, I ran out of the shop and never went back. (Sorry, lady. I’m a dick.)
Then there was the time when I visited my brother in Chicago in college. We walked into a bar, and he — well aware of my phobia — said, “Christy, look.” Right above me was a moose head the size of fucking Indiana. I dropped my beer, my knees buckled and I crawled out of the bar crying. (Bro felt awful, as he didn’t know I’d have that reaction.)
Frequently I have this caricature-on-crack nightmare where dozens of heads are chasing me down an Estes Park street. (Told you.) As I duck into tourist shops, the heads multiply like popping popcorn. (Seth MacFarlane, call me. We’ll throw it into one of your tangents of a tangent. Of an aside of a tangent of an aside. Good talk.)
Since some therapy, I’ve improved. (I live in Colorado. I had to get a grip.) So at least now the phobia hasn’t crippled me like it once did, although I do still wet my skirt every time I come across a head. Husband likes to remind me that the heads will not walk off the wall to get me — and the ass end of the trophy is not on the other side. Then he passes me a dry skirt.
So unlike box wine, I can take heads in mild moderation. Which means my favorite college bar, the Salty Dog (Gainesville, Fla.) — complete with its deer head the size of fucking Alabama — can still contribute to the demise of my liver, but Denver’s Buckhorn Exchange will never add its game fare to my beer gut.
And since you asked, no, I will not kiss the buffalo at the Pearl Street Pub. I can’t even look at the guy.
That’s OK, he smells like he’s been sniffing your ass anyway.
Christy Fantz: twitter.com/fantzypants