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Another Friday Five on a subject -- this time, fear -- that is not my forte. Nevertheless, I bravely soldier into the fray of the questions.


1. What's the scariest movie you've seen?
I don't ever go to scary movies, because being scared doesn't entertain me (same reason I don't go on scary amusement park rides). Even super-suspenseful-but-not-horror movies make me pace, a behavior which is frowned on at the cinema, so I waited till Get Out was on DVD before seeing it. I imagine I will do the same with the new, very-positively-reviewed-but-still-classified-as-horror flick, A Quiet Place (about the creatures who pounce if you make the slightest sound). All that said, I have watched a *few* things in my life that spooked me, and one that comes straight to mind is 1945's The Picture of Dorian Gray -- a film, incidentally, based on the only *book* I've ever read that scared me. It probably helped that I was an impressionable adolescent when I saw it: I mean, a Hollywood movie from that era left most of the grim things to the imagination. But, oh, that portrait! I will let that be my choice.

2. What most recently startled you?
Startled like someone-sneaking-up-behind-one startled? That's a good question. I live with only one other person and am often alone, so there's not much opportunity for such a thing to happen at home. Therefore, I shall look to the highway (I'm a commuter, remember) for some instance of unexpected and adrenaline-triggering behavior by another ... and I've got one. Last night, an SUV sped into my lane out of nowhere without making sure he could see all of my car over his shoulder (if he head-checked at all), both scaring me and almost clipping my left front bumper. Let's go with that.

3. What's something in your residence that’s frightening?
The question clearly means scary-frightening, so I will consider neither my chronic clutter problem nor the current bank-account-busting prospect of replacing two broken appliances. How about this? There's a mirror at the bottom of the stairs, hung by the Man decades ago to make the room it reflects appear more spacious. It's a pretty item that provides a clever effect, but I sure don't like walking past it in the semi-darkness (required because of the placement of the light switches in said room) on my way up to bed at night.

4. What kinds of social settings cause you anxiety?
I'm an extrovert who talks in front of people for a living, so social situations in themselves do not upset me. I guess I'm most anxious in the following combination of circumstances: (1) there's not much of a planned program, and (2) I know no one else in the room. *One* of those things I can handle, but both at once can send me straight to the snack table to gorge miserably on carbs while wondering what the heck is wrong with me.

5. What's something you are no longer afraid of?
Death. Oh, all right, there's probably no one who isn't a little afraid of it, and there are *ways* of dying (suffocation) that still terrify me to think of. Nevertheless, it was the first thing to pop into my head just now, and here, I think, is why. (1) I've been teaching philosophy for so many years that I've become comfortable with the fact of it. (2) Though I continue to worship with evangelicals, I'm no longer convinced that Hell is a thing. (3) After the Man left, I honestly felt like I wanted to die -- including fantasizing about it and wondering which ways are less painful than others. I don't do that anymore, but I guess flirting with the idea, however tentatively, made it less strange.