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I’m a glossophobic taurophobe

More of us are petrified of public speaking (glossophobia) than of death (thanatophobia). I suppose if somebody held a gun to my head and said “Speak or die,” I’d start talking. But I am terribly phobic about public speaking and I am very good at avoiding it.

I wasn’t always that way. In elementary school we had public speaking competitions. I always took part because I loved writing the speeches. I just didn’t like delivering them. Nothing particularly humiliating happened, but by grade 9 my dislike of public speaking had progressed into a full-blown phobia and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I still can’t. I can barely handle those meetings where you go around the table and everybody introduces themselves.

My bull phobia is more unusual. It stems from an Incident. When I was 11, my grandfather and step-father decided to get up early one morning to go hunt Canada Geese in the back forty. I hatched a plan to stay up all night and then follow them through the fields and save the geese. I knew I’d get in trouble, but it would be worth it because I was eleven and therefore noble.

My plan, though elegant in its simplicity, was thwarted when I got chased by a herd of cattle. I saw them coming in the pre-dawn light: at first I literally did not believe what my eyes were seeing, because cows don’t stampede. It wasn’t until they were a couple hundred yards away that I finally accepted that cows do stampede. I have never run so freakishly fast in my life – my feet felt like giant springs. The herd, however, was faster. They caught up with me and formed a mean circle with me in the centre. I found myself face to face with a demented bull. (I learned later that the farmer had just rented the bull, and he himself would not set foot in the field while the bull was there.)

The bull was in a rage. He was snorting and tearing up the ground and his eyes were shockingly hateful. The cows weren’t acting very cow-like either. It was so surreal.

I took a step backward, away from the bull. The entire herd took a step toward me, and the circle got smaller. I took another step backward, and again, the circle shrunk. I stopped taking steps backwards. The bull was maybe 15 feet away from me, and he was preparing to attack me. I knew – right down to the core of my being – that my own gory death was imminent.

There was really nothing to do but shake, cry and prepare to die. And wet my pants.

But then something in me told me to start screaming. I’m a pretty quiet person; I’ve never been a screamer. It didn’t come easily or naturally to me, but I started screaming. I hated the horribly unnatural sounds coming out of my mouth.

My screams didn’t phase the bull or the cows, but they carried through that weird pre-dawn silence to the field where my step-father and grandfather were preparing to shoot the Canada Geese. They didn’t know who was screaming or why, but they came running back through the fields firing their rifles. And the herd, mercifully, got distracted and dispersed. I’m not sure what happened next, except I didn’t die that day, and neither did any Canada Geese.

I did get in trouble though. And I did acquire a permanent fear of bulls. There is a name for it: taurophobia.

Here’s a list of phobias, in case you want to name your fear and share it with the rest of us.


Edited August 2/2007 to add this awful photo of a gory goring:

Gory Goring

10 comments to I’m a glossophobic taurophobe

  • boo

    i’m not afraid of anything. i know it’s a bold statement to make but it’s true. the only time i wavered a little was when my best friends jumped on the capilano bridge (in vancouver) and made it incredibly unstable *those no good people* else i’m good :)

    p/s followed that link, there are some *strange* phobias!

  • Seems like a good reason to fear bull.

    I’ve got Athazagoraphobia – fear of forgetting. But it’s hard to remember sometimes.

  • Good for you Boo, my hypophobic friend! (Hypophobia: the absence of fear)

    Pearl, I think I have a touch of athazagoaphobia too. One day I forgot my pin number while trying to pay for my groceries, and I thought it was early-onset Alzheimers and got a little panicky. Now I get to the grocery store and can’t even remember why I’m there.

  • Sounds familiar. Pesky items keep mislaying themselves too. Every object has a pinch of trickster in it.

  • Deb

    Melissophobia – What a pretty name…I figured that the fear of bears would be orsophobia or something ordinary…now I am proud to be afraid of bears. Bats, on the other hand…

  • Melissophobia? Didn’t you used to take your kids to the dump so you could watch the bears having picnics? Chiroptophobia is the fear of bats. I have indoor chiroptophobia.

  • Deb

    We would watch them from across a very large culvert while in a car with the windows up. There would be about 20 cars watching the babies open up their picnic lunches consisting of green garbage bag surprise.

  • Kerr

    Holy cow patties!

    I may someday have a heard of goats, but never cows because I too am terrified of bulls – I wonder if it was the same bull who chased me and Rob down? Graham made US go get the kite that landed in his field!

    My personal phobia is Ichthyophobia- Fear of fish, it sometimes prevents me from swimming. But I’m like mom and the garter snakes, trying to get over my fear and not instill it in my children by exposing them with white knuckles and an audible heartbeat to the minnows that nibble on you at the lake.

    I get chills when I look at the gar pike at the Nature museum. I can’t open my eyes under water because I’m terrified I’ll be face to face with a pike and it will bite me.

  • [...] But most of all I love Canada Geese. I feel an affinity for them, a special connection. Maybe it’s because of the time I almost died trying to save their lives. Or maybe it’s because of that poem, Something Told the Wild Geese, which I copied for the Carp Fair’s Handwriting Contest, which I lost to the girl with no arms. Or maybe it’s because of the time I was able to convince the ever-skeptical Orley that hummingbirds migrate south on the backs of Canada Geese. [...]

  • [...] first time was when I choked on a peach pit when I was nine years old. The second time was when a bull decided to kill me when I was eleven. And the third time I was 17 and hitch-hiking alone through [...]