Saturday, July 31, 2010
"Arcotophobia" is the term for "fear of bears", althought there is a lot of discussion as to whether it is a phobia. Bears really are scary. The term is not in dictionary.com, but it does show up elsewhere.
In any case, I think I have a bonafide case of arcotophobia. As a kid, many of my nightmares involved bears coming into our house, and chasing me down the stairs and into the street. Of course, as in all dreams like this, I tried to scream and no one helped. At seven or eight, I read a Sports Illustrated article on a grizzly attack in Glacier National Park. I was way too young to read that article. When I was 13 or 14 our family went camping deep in the Sierra Nevada, using horses and mules to get to our campsite. At night, I was convinced every sound I heard was a bear, and when I had to go into the forest to go to the bathroom, well, you've never seen a girl pee so fast. I don't think I slept much that week.
During my recent visit to Montana, there was a lot of talk about bears. All I know is, I did NOT want to see one. I've seen them in the wild, twice: once in Yellowstone (don't even bring up the recent grizzly attack there) and once near Mt. Shasta, when a scrawny black bear crossed the road in front of our car, not 20 yards away. (Is that bad luck, like black cats crossing in front of you?)
There's more than a little irony in all this. My famlly and some of my friends call me "Mare Bear", my favorite stuffed animal was a Stieff bear, and my oldest son has a tattoo of a grizzly bear on his upper back. Talk about being forced to confront one's fears!