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      What Aren't You Afraid of That Other People Are?

      October 2, 2012
      From the column 'Question of the Day'

      Everyone is basically afraid of the same stuff: Death, heights, commitment, public speaking, punk kids, your friends and family discovering the delicate web of lies that make up your life, etc. So it's fairly boring to ask people what their fears are. It'd be way better, we figured, to ask people what they weren't afraid of. What's something that turns others into quivering puddles of lube but you laugh off? What's one phobia that seems absurd to you? What's that one thing in life that you aren't a pussy about? We asked some strangers in New York to see what they thought. 

      Stuart (Right): Heights and spiders. I used to rock climb, so you can't really be afraid of heights.

      I guess spiders are kind of a part of rock climbing too.
      Stuart: No, not really. They just don't scare me.
      Adrian (Left): I'm pretty much afraid of everything that everyone else is.

      That's not true. What about eels?
      What about them?

      Are you afraid of eels?
      No, I like eels.

      See, I'm terrified of eels.
      Stuart: Eels are cool, man. I just had eel sushi yesterday. It was really good.

      Judith(Left): That's a funny question.
      Kate(Right): Not afraid of?
      Judith: So it's about the difference between me and other people?

      Kate: I'm not afraid to get robbed. 

      Really? I am. 
      Kate: Yeah, sorry. I'm not. 

      It's a good thing to not be afraid of if you're in New York.
      Judith: I think actually I'm afraid of everything that everyone else is afraid of. I'm quite a scared person.

      Are you afraid of snakes or bats?
      Judith: Snakes, yes. But not bats. 
      Kate: Cockroaches?

      Everyone's afraid of cockroaches. 
      Judith: Actually, I don't like cockroaches, but I'm not afraid of them. 

      Alex(Left): Death.
      Sampson(Right): Good call.

      Really? Not scared of death?
      Alex: I mean, I'm really scared of that moment of confrontation with a psycho killer or extreme agony, but I'm not actually scared of death.
      Sampson: Falling in love, I'm not afraid of that. 


      Ethan (Right): Snakes. 

      I'm afraid of snakes.
      Ethan: And riding the bus. A lot of people are afraid of riding the bus.
      Danielle (Left): We just came from Memphis and all of our friends there were like, "Don't ride the bus, nobody rides the bus!" And we were like, "Well, how do you get anywhere if you don't?" I'm afraid of lots of things, but I'm not afraid of jumping out of airplanes. 

      Really? Have you done it before?
      Yeah, I've done it three times. But I can't say that I'm not afraid of heights because I was terrified when I went bungee jumping.

      Annie (left): Oh, he's a good person to ask, he's not afraid of much. 
      Paul (right): I'm not afraid of breaking conventions, breaking rules, tweaking things.

      What kind of rules?
      Paul: All kinds of rules. Little rules; not breaking the law, but other kinds.

      Social norms.
      Paul: Social norms, there you go. I'm not much into social norms. And the best part about breaking the norms is that I've played the game enough to be deeply imbedded in the institutions of the world. So I know how things work, but I follow the conventions in my own way.

      Do you have one you aren't afraid of Annie?
      Annie: Being naked in front of a crowd.

      That's a big one.
      Paul: Yep, Annie's not afraid of being naked in front of a crowd!


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      Topics: Question of the Day, fear, eels, naked in front of people, death, love


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