I am neurotic. I don’t know when my perception of the world around me transformed from a blissful place of sunshine and lollipops into the anxiety-riddled one that I now
inhibit inhabit. My mother says I was always a tad bit…um…”different” (insert finger quotes here), which I guess is true. I did believe, after all, that tow trucks broke cars and firemen started fires. Think about it. Every time a car stops working, there’s a tow truck around. And, every time there’s a fire…well, you know where I’m headed with this.
It seems that my mind–although highly superior to others in many aspects–in my opinion, which, by the way means very little given the state of my mind to begin with– was pre-programmed for neuroses at a very early age. (If you made it through that sentence without experiencing a walloping migraine, congratulations for your stick-to-itiveness. If that sentence made sense to you, please accept my condolences. I see padded cells and really long-sleeved white jackets in your future.)
When I was 7 years old, I experienced what I call the Toadstool Event…an event which has given me a phobia of inedible fungi. Mycophobia. A fear of fungus. Yes, even the cutest flock of fungi has the power to fray my nerves.
It started off as an innocent school trip. My classmates and I merrily frolicked through the forest, picking colourful fungi to take back to our classroom, “oh-ing” and “aw-ing” at every turn, trying to outdo one another by finding increasingly weirder-looking specimens. When our mushroom marauding came to an end, we piled on our school bus and returned to school just in time for lunch.
I happily devoured my peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich and my wagon wheel (a chocolate-covered marshmallowy dessert adored by school children in the 1970s, not an actual wagon wheel, although those likely contain a great deal of healthy fibre), and headed back to my classroom.
Upon entering, my teacher (who from this moment on, I will refer to as Ms. WTF Were-You-Thinking) stated, “Now, I hope you all washed your hands before lunch as you did handle poisonous mushrooms.” The whole room broke into a series of obedient nods and “yes, Ms. WTF’s.” I, however, had lapsed into horrified silence.
I had not washed my hands. I had potentially eaten peanut butter, jam, and toadstool spores for lunch. I had no choice. I had to confess my potentially life-threatening hygiene faux-pas. And what followed is likely what transformed an otherwise well-adjusted (albeit slovenly) child into a neurotic, hand-washing-obsessed worrywart who is actually allergic to mushrooms. It’s true. I’ve been tested. Well, the mushroom part…I’ve never been tested for the rest.
Ms. WTF Were-You-Thinking immediately gathered the offending fungi around her, opened up her toadstool book and proceeded to say aloud, ” this looks like the destroying angel.” The very name was ominous. She continued to read the potential side effects of accidental ingestion, but my mind only heard the words “deadly” and “Poison Control.” I don’t remember much after that–other than my parents receiving a phone call that evening stating that Poison Control had concluded that I had not, in fact, been in contact with any toxic fungi and that I would, indeed, live.
In a true neurotic fashion, I did not believe them and forced my parents to stay up with me in case I died. I, apparently, fell asleep at 10:00 and was pleased to wake up the next morning and discover that I was still alive.
And that is my mushroom story.
I’ve got to go. My hands are calling me.
Camel Tow: https://www.yelp.com/biz/camel-tow-fayetteville
Toadstools: I’ve had this on my computer for so long, I don’t know where it came from. If it is yours, let me know and I’ll give you credit. By the way, brilliant photo!
Wagon wheels: https://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/dare-wagon-wheels-original-cookies/6000147490402
hand fungus: https://weheartit.com/entry/21366376