Monday, March 05, 2007

Unreasonable Phobias Part I: Wet bread

Sure, I have your usual run of the mill kinds of phobias like those of spiders, needles and deep water, but I also have a few odd ones which I will talk about now.

I can't decide which is worse for me but I seem to have fairly equal reactions to both the sight of octopus and wet bread. The sight of either one leaves me squirming, screaming and shielding my eyes.

I think the wet bread started in school where you would often see sandwiches on the ground. Boy did I hate that. Stemming from that is my being grossed out by scrunched up Glad Wrap. Worse when there are crusts scrunched up in there! I just got goosebumps and that isn't even really the phobia I'm talking about. Back to bread, any kind on the ground really bothers me, though I do recall a time outside a Faith No More concert where a roll we stole from catering was dropped as the catering woman chased us, and that didn't bother me, even after someone flattened it. Perhaps when the whole exterior is baked, it isn't as gross. It's like it's sealed. Once you get into a loaf, you are more susceptible to later hazards of bread on the ground.

With the addition of a shoe, this image could induce hysteria.

One great consequence of bread on the ground is the foot print. In a clean piece of white bread, a footprint will come out vivid and bold and the connection between foot and mouth is made and gagging ensues. Again, with a roll, such prints are not as easily distinguishable. I remember one time Gregg's shoe was laying on it's side in the kitchen and when I saw a morsel of bread wedged in the tread a began screaming and backing away. This must sound hilarious and overdone for comical purposes, but I kid you not that that was my genuine reaction. I scolded Gregg for allowing stepped on bread to occur in our own home. You think you have a safe haven only to have that harsh reality set in that stepping in bread can happen anywhere at any time.

An extension of the plain bread on the ground, is the complete sandwich. It's one thing when the sandwich sits complete and tidy and wrapped in it's wrap, albeit on the ground, but quite another when the discarding of the sandwich has occurred POST unwrap and now resides on the ground. Take that another step further to where there is a footprint in it. Then go that additional step where some sort of skidding has occurred and the entire thing is laid out like a poker hand. Spread out, exposing all the insides. The moist condiments which at one time would have once made this sandwich edible, even pleasurable, now cause it to become a visual atrocity. It's like seeing a motorcyclist strewn across the road. The cheese is now gritty with dirt and bears signs of a shoe print. And there it is again. Something I would have once happily placed in my mouth now bears dirt and footprints. And so my body begins to shut down in response.

It wont be long before the moisture seeps into the bread, rendering the sandwich inedible. Now put the sandwich on the ground, step on it and try to keep your own lunch down.

But it can still get worse. Wet bread.

Wet bread is the absolute final and most repulsive stage of the degradation of bread. Apply all of the above to bread, and then add water. There are different levels of wet bread ranging from dampened by the onset of cream cheese or other moist sandwich toppings, to the completely soaked by water type which is a complete travesty as water and bread have no business together. I understand water has a part in the process, but that is at the dough stage and they must part ways beyond that point.

When the bread is completely soaked, worst when it is so soaked it is almost transparent, it is then that I feel a tightness in my chest and all the blood draining from my upper body. Veins throb in my temple as I try to figure out how I can get away from the wet bread that is terrorising me. I don't know what it is. The sight perhaps, but more so maybe the immediate connection of what it would be like biting into that and having cold water flushed out of it into your mouth and the mortifying consistency of said bread. I kid you not, but my chest is tight and head light as I read over this.

I've been thinking more about it and I think that while a lot of it is any kind of moisture, I think it's that moisture coming from water that makes for an exceptional case of fear which differs from the reaction of others. I've talked to other wet bread haters to compare notes, so if this fear is news to you as of this blog, you will be surprised to know that I am not alone. The area which I feel like I fall short on the expectations of my fellow haters of wet bread is how I eat my cereal. I am not afraid to eat cereal that has become soaked, and to make matters worse, when I prepare my Weetabix each morning, I like them to be completely drowned in milk. They couldn't get any soggier and are indeed at the height of grossness that is wet bread. So committed am I to this method that in Australia, whose Weet-Bix are far denser than the Weetabix of the UK, I would drown them in milk and WALK AWAY to allow time for sufficient absorption. What is going on in my head? I know if I saw that same soggy wheat cake on the ground, I would be likely to vomit on the spot. We can possibly find the fine line in this instance where one time, after thinking I was done and adding a little water the prevent the dregs from drying in the bowl in the sink, I decided to eat the last scrap as it grossed out my house guest who was doing the dishes. The second I put that soggy mouthful of Weetabix with water added, I began gagging and shaking and simply couldn't get it down. I very nearly threw up back in the bowl.

In my search for images of wet bread in order to illustrate this blog, I found even more people. One girl named Kimmy has to cover the remains of her children's cereal bowl with a paper towel and have her husband deal with it. Here's another quote I found posted on a blog:

"Also, I loathe wet bread. If I encounter wet bread in the sink, I start dry-heaving and can’t touch it to remove it. I have to avoid the sink until someone else takes care of it. I can’t even eat a sandwich in which the bread has become soggy. If that happens I have to wrap it up and get it out of sight quickly."

Now that you know that there are more of us out there, perhaps you can help me find a name for us. Something scientific sounding. I'm thinking something like painaquaphobia, but I'm open to more suggestions.

If we're ever walking down the street together on a rainy day and I seemingly, with no explanation begin screaming and backing away, scan the ground for wet bread and you will have your answer. If we walk together and you happen to see it first, kinda shift my attention to something in the opposite direction, all the while ensuring my feet steer clear of it.

Next time: My fear of octopus.
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