Time to Label the Crazy

Let’s not beat around the bush any longer.  I’m a little weird…as we all are. I have a few phobias.  Everyone has phobias – germs, bugs, flying, public speaking – but these are not mine…these are just a drop in the sea of possibilities.  We have many things for which we can fear – qualms that induce sweaty palms; worries that turn our bowels to water, dread which engulfs us – causing great huge shrieks that start at the base of our spins and build towards a crescendo erupting from our mouths – exploding in our brains. These are the things which have power.

(Pretty good opening paragraph, eh?)

These are some of the things which make me uneasy; a little squeamish even.

  • Coulrophobia – a fear of clowns
  • Ligyrophobia – a fear of balloons popping
  •  Ophidiophobia – a fear of snakes

Not so odd.  Clown hatred is pretty common and completely SANE. They are creepy. Once, my parents made me meet Ronald McDonald when I was about 5 or 6; he gave me a vinyl, rigid, puffy, rectangular sticker and a balloon and if you read the list above, you have to know where that went.  What happened might you be wondering? Well, let’s just say it didn’t end well. Not well at all. That was the last time any talk of clown-introductions was mentioned.

At Applebee’s, my friend Lisa, would chase away the ‘entertainer’ that believed it was amusing to twist blown up balloons in my face in exchange for a money.  KEEP YOUR FREAKIN’ POODLES TO YOURSELF, BUDDY! She was a godsend.

I almost passed out from the horrors in a car once with a balloon bouquet in the passenger seat with me going across town.  Do you know what it’s like to be a passenger in a small car with a balloon-popping baby and 12 balloons on string?

Of course I hate parades – they encourage clowns.  And balloons.

Snakes – well, there’s not so much to say.  Indiana Jones was afraid; I’m afraid. I’m in good company. And I don’t have any snake stories. Which is good – because if a snake does strike me – I will have to have electroshock therapy to erase it from my mind.  Frankly, I don’t want snake stories to share.

But those are small potatoes.

This is the thing that holds power.


 This is what I’ve read about it:

Button phobia is a result of an improper brain function, which controls fear and anxiety triggers, and causes the brain to determine that buttons are a fear causing stimuli.

I was secretly thrilled to find out this was a result of a malfunction in my brain.

I’ve had this since…well, since all my life. My mother swears she had to turn my PJs around when I was an infant so that the buttons were in the back, else I’d cry endlessly.   I can believe it.  It sounds really funny – and it is funny. I’m not traumatized by this or paralyzed – I think it’s interesting.   But it has affected my life.  The worst scenario was once having to put a button on a string INTO MY MOUTH and my brother did the same. It was some sort of physical therapy exercise he had to do because he couldn’t keep his tongue on the roof of his mouth. I think I vomited on the table. Why my parents thought I could manage this is beyond me.

You also have to figure out a way to break it to a boyfriend. That’s awfully fun. It can be a deal breaker too, unfortunately.   I can live with flannels or other button down shirts (at times). But golf shirts – nope.  Buttons, collars and V-necks – all together make me EXTRA queasy.  Cannot do that. It would have to be a platonic relationship.  Scott loves tee-shirts and jeans. And I love him.

I wore a shirt with buttons ONE TIME ONLY; a golf shirt even…I was at Miller’s Outpost, my mother convinced me to try it on – it was pink…I was in 7th grade and had a bad perm.  I shudder to think of it.

Thank GOD uniforms were not happening during my school years. I would have had to have a doctor’s note to excuse me from it.  I can only imagine what the note would say:

Dear Teachers,

Please excuse Denise from wearing buttons; she has a malfunction of the brain.

And no, buttons on jeans (as long as they’re not extraneous) are OK – they’re metal. For some reason – that makes it better.  I don’t wear them. But others in my general vicinity can.

I’m kidding (kind of), I can talk to you if you are wearing buttons.  I’m just very aware of them and leery of them touching me at any moment.   I’m not a complete freak.

Anyway –

Clowns wear buttons too….

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Aversions, Humor, Phobias, Random Thoughts, Words and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Time to Label the Crazy

  1. Funny (and poignant) stuff. You should check out my last blog I just did about button-fly jeans. You’ll find that I’m not a big fan of buttons either – much less Walmart.

  2. rossmurray1 says:

    [strokes chin, raises one eyebrow] Fascinating…

  3. jmlindy422 says:

    I get very anxious when the selvages of the towels in the linen closet are visible. And sheets? If I get a peek at a fitted sheet that is just balled up and thrown in the closet, I have a hard time breathing. Seriously. I learned how to fold fitted sheets so you can’t tell them from the flat sheets. It calms me to look at them neatly stacked in the closet. Seriously. I have no idea if this is a phobia or an obsessive compulsive thingie and I don’t really care. I just avoid looking in people’s linen closets. Oh, and I seldom wear buttons.

  4. Steph says:

    That was super interesting. My husband hates buttons. In almost 11 years I think I’ve only ever seen him wear a shirt with buttons once.

  5. Ah yes, the clown thing…..my daughter was petrified of them! Never heard of fear of buttons though. Better than fear of zippers, I think !

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    That’s actually quite interesting in a clinical way, though I’m sure it can make for some tricky day-to-day maneuvering. I’m fine with buttons. Clowns don’t bother me, but I think they’re weird. As for Ophidiophobia? Oh, yeah, I got that.

  7. Paul says:

    That’s a fascinating phobia RtMR. I share the phobia of clowns and the phobia of snakes. For myself, I would add spiders. Luckily, none of these, for me, are serious enough to make me sick, in the short term. I have never understood why clowns are so prevalent in our society and employed to represent humor. In my experience, many adults and most children are nervous about clowns. Great post!

  8. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    And why not…

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  11. You are cracking me up! I’m sorry for these phobias of yours, but it sounds like you’ve learned to adapt. My son doesn’t like buttons either. Nope! Can’t wear them. I made him wear a shirt with buttons for a school picture. Let’s just say that wasn’t worth it as the picture wasn’t a happy one! I learned my lesson. My husband freaks out whenever he sees rubber bands. He can’t touch them! I don’t think I have any phobias, at least none to come to mind.

    • I feel for your son – my mom tried but it was a losing battle. I’d be in serious trouble if my job required that I have uniform with buttons – I’d not be able to do it.

      Rubber bands, eh? Probably the same kind of mis-wiring in the brain like the one that happened for buttons.

      And it’s not the kind of thing that seems to get ‘better’ with exposure. And honestly, I don’t care if I ever get over the phobia – it’s not like flying – where it would keep me from many things –

      let’s see if we can give you some nifty phobias!

  12. I learned something new today. I am an “emetophobia” myself though, we’ve all got our things.

  13. El Guapo says:

    I’m glad you at least don’t let the phobias control you.
    So how do you deal with elevator buttons?

    • They are fine b/c they are not on clothes and they are not ‘buttony’ looking to me (I don’t like the word in that instance -but the object is not repulsive). If they were made to look like a notion, then I’d be grossed out.

      You have to laugh at stuff like that – it’s just too redonkulous not to.

  14. twindaddy says:

    Is there a phobia of outlandishly weird phobias?

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  16. mairedubhtx says:

    I have always had a phobia about clowns and my daughter has had a phobia about balloons since she was very young. We could never have balloons at her birthday party because she was afraid of their popping. Even when her own children were small and she relented and had balloons at their parties, she had a hard time if one popped. That’s why we usually got a helium kit for the balloons for the grandchildren because they usually don’t pop. And don’t get either of us going about snakes. We live in south Texas where there are rattlesnakes. There is reason to be afraid.

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  20. a gripping life says:

    You can always move to an Amish community. I think they stay away from buttons because they feel buttons are too prideful, too snazzy. Haha! Sorry, I shouldn’t be making light of this because I know it’s very real. My daughter hates bows for some reason? I, like you, am made anxious by the fear of having a balloon popped in my presence. I hate it, and yet I do love balloons.
    Usually there’s some negative association and some re-wiring/ re-conditioning that needs to be down to extinguish the phobia. It’s not as hard as it would seem. As a therapist I’ve seen/heard just about everything.
    At least you could write about it and entertain your blogging friends!
    Have a great day!

    • Ha ha – I’ve thought about being Amish for just that reason! Go ahead, laugh, believe me I’m used to how bizarro this button thing is…and I really don’t even want to ever like them. So, like my fear of flying, I did make myself overcome it b/c it was impacting my life – but I think I can make it the next 40 or so years buttonless!

  21. My daughter is afraid of the ice cream truck and clowns. My greatest day was when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw an ice cream truck. Being driven by a clown.

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  23. Dawn Nunn says:

    Ah yes, those annoying pearl buttons that are impossible to button. Look for a Fedex!

  24. Dawn Nunn says:

    I remember when I would send you hand me downs for D and you told me to make sure there were no button items in the bags. ha ha ha. I love your crazy. I’m definitely getting you a twinset for your next birthday.

  25. The Waiting says:

    OMG, that coulda-been letter to your teacher is just too much! “She has a malfunction of the brain.” A very plausible explanation, indeed ;D

  26. I don’t have a huge number of buttons on my shirts, being a person who likes stretch and comfort. But pants, most of mine have between one and three buttons, depending on type and style. So I am curious, how do you deal with finding pants without buttons? Especially work or “dress” pants? Maybe you don’t need to wear those?

    • Good question! You’re not the first to ask. I actually wear skirts for the most part. And my pants tend to have draw strings. Luckily my job now doesn’t require me to dress up 99% of the time because we don’t see our clients – so I can wear tee shirts/skirts/yoga pants/shorts. I own a couple of pairs of jeans, but I don’t really like jeans so I often don’t wear them. I have a lot of dresses as well.

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  29. Maryann Graziano says:

    Wow, I just looked up Koumpounophobia. I’d never heard of it before. But you are 1 in 75,000 people that have it. Interesting…..

  30. marneymcnall says:

    A good friend of mine won’t any food that’s blue. Certainly no popsicles or blue M&M’s…but also no blueberries regardless of how healthy they are.

  31. I definitely believe that phobias and aversions can start young. Do you remember that video of Cash gagging while he’s watching his sister eating rice cereal? He won’t eat anything with a lumpy texture and freaks out if I get him to try. I find it fascinating that there are enough people with a button phobia to be able to give it a name!

    • Ah – Cash has the ‘texture’ rule. My co-worker won’t eat certain foods that have a pudding or PB texture. Dorian as well – he gags at chicken pot pie 🙂

      Us button haters are not as uncommon as anyone thought! I was surprised too ~

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