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  MG Barker, , Meg Franz &  

Life is scary. There are moments that are so terrifying, so crippling, that it's amazing that any of us have the courage to open our eyes and walk outside each day. And this past week has been a regular cavalcade of fear. First, we have these goddamned hurricanes. Then we have the crazy Chechen people dressed like ninjas. Then Zell Miller. And, of course, how can one erase the haunting memory of Vincent Gallo's bulbous, bug-eyed shlong?

This month our ladies have been kind enough to share some of their own fears. Granted, theirs are a bit silly.


Deidre Woollard Fears Talking Movie Babies

I'm a firm believer in the adage that you don't fuck with Mother Nature. Whenever some scientist in a movie creates a 'helpful robot' that ends up terrorizing the town, I'm not a bit surprised. This might explain my fear of talking babies in movies and on television. While other people are laughing and sighing over how cutesy the little darlings with the grown-up voices are all I can think is make it stop.

If infants were meant to speak, they would. Having Bruce Willis or any other wisecracking mature voice coming out of the drooly soft mouth of a baby is just plain creepy. Worse is the baby who is supposed to have adult interests and motivations. Babies making sex jokes? Didn't they just come out of the uterus about five minutes ago, it's a little soon to start beating a path back in. You couldn't pay me enough to sit through "Superbabies." However, my best friend went with her eight-year-old son and won't even speak of it (the horror, the horror). All I needed to hear was that they have the babies' mouths move to look like they are talking and chills ran down my spine. What evil have those special effects guys wrought? Is this supposed to be cute? Toddlers in suits, making business deals and flirting isn't adorable, it's grotesque. But maybe my real fear is that these TV and film babies with their cell phones and their very important jobs make me more than a little inadequate. Yes, I know they aren't really talking but still they probably made more money than I did last week.

Deidre Woollard is not going to fall for the old 'helpful robot' routine, so don't' even try it. She blogs daily at


MG Barker Fears Giant Candles

I have a second cousin twice removed that peddles PartyLite, which, if you aren't familiar, is a sort of retail cult for people whose lives are empty and sad. Thus, they fill up the hours they would otherwise spend fashioning a noose out of homemade lanyards by selling a metric ass-ton of crappy candles (and candle accessories!) to their relatives and co-workers. My cousin is, like, the Grand Poobah of North Coast

Regional PartyLite sales. Lucky me.

In order to keep food on my cousin's table and clothes on her children's backs (or so she would have you believe), there is a lot of candle-peddling at family gatherings. My mother is among the worst of these candle-guilt victims. Hence our family came to own one of the most frightening objects ever to cross my path: the giant PartyLite snowball candle.

YES, I AM AFRAID OF A CANDLE. I know what you're thinking -- whooo-hooo, crayzeee! -- but first of all, it is freaking huge. It weighs nearly THREE AND A HALF POUNDS. Plus, what kind of snowball do you SET ON FIRE? One that is the work of the devil, that's what kind; and it freaks me right the fuck out. Also, it never gets used up, like any proper candle would, and at this point it's been around FOR YEARS. And there is something about the way it feels. Not quite slippery. Not quite scratchy. Mushy but hard. Crispy but solid. Ever so slightly ... alive. GOD I HATE THAT CANDLE.

Last Christmas, the candle replicated (thanks cousin! Hope you and the kids are enjoying that Mercedes!), and now there are smaller versions to roam around the house at night moving furniture, polishing off the White Cheddar Cheez-Its ... and maybe, just maybe, sneaking right into my room and rolling into my sleep-slackened mouth so it can SUFFOCATE ME TO DEATH.

In addition to her fear of giant candles, MG Barker also fears vowels. Check out her bloggy-thingee here


Aileen Gallagher Fears Teenagers

I am terrified of teenagers. Though the fall is my favorite season, its colors are dimmed by the site of those 15-year-olds on the train come September. I can only assume they go out of town and terrorize suburbanites in June, July and August. Or perhaps attend some special training camp in the mountains of Afghanistan. I don't like making eye contact with them. Like dogs, they can smell my fear. Maybe they'll laugh at me. Loudly. Perhaps a jostle as I pass by; a door blocked. A sneer in my direction. The interminable eye-roll. The girls have mammoth, marauding breasts and joyless, jeering laughs. Even the bookish white girls sniff at me with disdain. For the boys, it is what they lack that troubles me. Teenage boys have no fear. They will never die. They most certainly will never get caught. So what's to stop them?

Just like my mother can hone in on my weak points with GPS accuracy, teenagers can humiliate me with a muttered monosyllable. I am hurled back into the middle school of my mind. Teenagers momentarily rob me of my own self-assurance. They expose what is a nagging doubt: I am a total lame ass. Teenagers don't think I'm funny. That I can intimidate total strangers at a poker table carries no currency with the dreaded demographic. My job isn't interesting, because who wants to work?

Besides, I probably have one of those kitty "hang in there" posters in my office. I am too old to interest teenagers, but too young to be granted even the deference given to the "cool aunt." I am simply a boring, useless grown up. I was never them, and they will never be me.

What brings me back to myself is the delightful knowledge that one day soon, they absolutely will.

Aileen Gallagher is managing editor of The Black Table. She always has trouble sleeping after she watches The Outsiders.


Meg Franz Fears Facial Hair

Soul Patch. Goatee. Fu Manchu.

The mere mentioning of these words leads me to recoil in fear. My heart is racing just thinking about the horror. I am deathly afraid of facial hair.

Now this fear is much more than just your average deal-breaker, like a guy who spits, or votes Republican. For example, imagine a cute guy. Add a shaggy haircut, a t-shirt from a cool band, and some Converse All-Stars and we ladies have one thing to say: "Yes, please. I'll take two."

Now -- and brace yourself for this -- imagine him with a goatee. Scary, right? Because right now I am just thinking one thing: "Holy shit, I'm about to go to third with the Unabomber."

My intense fear of facial hair started young. In 1982, my father, still partially stuck in the 70's decided to grow a Village People inspired moustache. Merely three years old, I refused to eat until he shaved it off. In retrospect, I realize that this was the same year that Gandhi was big at the box office, and I guess hunger strikes must have been in style. In 1991 during recess my friends are talking about all the dirty, dirty things they want to do to George Michael. You know, like maybe a little Dylan McKay/Kelly Taylor-in-the-hotel-swimming-pool action. I decide then and there that based on George Michael's facial hair, I will never make out with anyone from the UK, a rule which has stood to this day. (Side note: said rule could possibly be amended for Tim from "The Office," email me for details)

Today, I live in daily fear my significant other will decide to grow some crap on his face. I am constantly on the lookout for the warning signs, like a desire to look older, or an increase in sideburn size. I yell: "Why are you reading that Bass Player magazine?" or "Put down that philosophy book!" Ladies, we must be alert! Because guys think facial hair is cool and they're wrong. And because no one wants to open their eyes and realize they're making out with the taxidermied head of a ten-point buck.

Don't even think of offering a mustache ride to Meg Franz. She offers detailed shaving advice at


Darci "Kittenpants" Ratliff Fears, Well, Lots of Weird Shit

When I heard this month's topic was "irrational fears" I started listing my own. The list grew so long I had to add "having too many irrational fears" as another item. I was reminded of Ben Franklin's famous saying: "The only thing to fear is fear itself." After adding "fear itself" to my list, (just below "fear of misattributing famous quotations") I considered seeing a therapist. But then I remembered I was afraid of doctors, prescription pill addiction, and "being one of those people who talks about therapy".

My fears are more than irrational; they're complex and specific. Lots of people are afraid of snakes, but I feel alone in my fear of being shot in the back of the head in a movie theater. And who isn't afraid of heights? But who's afraid of MONOPOLY tokens coming to life? Anyone? It's a miracle I can get out of bed.

Which brings me to bedroom anxieties. They range from sexual ("Am I doing this right?"), to silly (dying in a dream), to ridiculous (cricket under the bed), to retarded (demons in my room). At eight I began sleeping with a baton under my pillow to ward off burglars, kidnappers, and molesting uncles. I don't have any uncles, but better safe than sorry.

Other fears include being hunted for sport, roller coaster malfunction, and when dogs' ears are turned inside-out. I worry there is more evil in clowns than in any terrorist organization, and under no circumstances will I tolerate dolls, puppets, or ventriloquist dummies. My most prevalent and absurd phobia involves snagging a finger or toe nail. Thinking about it makes me cringe. There are nights when (after placing toes safely outside of sheets) I lay awake, talking myself down, slowly letting go until I can fall asleep.

While admittedly insane, none of these fears is particularly crippling. I don't faint at the sight of Willie Tyler and Lester. I even wear open-toed sandals throughout the Summer. I've come to realize that these silly qualms are a comforting distraction from life's more realistic concerns. I don't have time to worry about poverty, rejection, or being left alone to wither away and die. Not when there could be a vengeance-seeking spider family outside my door...

Darci Ratliff is Kittenpants: the shining star of Internet humor, a writer/producer of independent film and music. She's a keeper.


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