Our theme for the month of June is “Top Ten.”

(With apologies to my high school Latin teacher for what I’m about to do to the language he tried so hard to teach me.)

1. Tabulamutendantiquaphobia — The Fear of Old Cartoons

Have you ever watched old cartoons? Not mild-mannered fare like Snow White and Fantasia (and I’m including Night on Bald Mountain when I say mild-mannered), but their elder, monochrome cousins, Steamboat Willie and his gangle-limbed ilk. It is not the content of these productions that disturbs me (though many of them do come with the added benefit of being very creatively racist), but the aesthetic: the looseness, the fluidity, the unplaceable weirdness that makes you feel like you did some bad shrooms before embarking on a 1930s-themed amusement park ride.

2. Meavehiclutintinnabulaphobia — The Fear of Your Own Car Alarm

If tabulamutendantiquaphobia is relatively easy to avoid, meavehiclutintinnabulaphobia is so frightening because it is not. It is unexpected and unpredictable, the bane of those of us who do not scare nearly as easily as we startle. This one is a learned fear, compounded by my faithful but tragically moribund Ford Escape, which has decided to begin expressing its age by raising the alarm ahead of such threatening occasions as: the car door being opened from the inside, the car door being closed when the lock is engaged, and when it’s gotten a bit too warm on a Thursday afternoon.

3. Derivatiapostcalvinaphobia — The Fear of Someone Else Using Your post calvin Theme Month Idea First

A sub-phobia of the more broad derivatiaphobia (the likewise fake fear of being derivative), this fear is exacerbated by the fact that my assigned post calvin day is the twenty-sixth, the third-to-last in a monthly rotation (not counting guest writers). A close relative and largely resultant of the fear that someone else’s thing will be compared favorably to your similar thing, like when Stuart and Peter both made Union Jack cakes in The Great British Bake-Off or everyone wore a kimono for the Madonna challenge in RuPaul’s Drag Race. In other news, quarantine has not been good for my media consumption habits.

For this month’s near miss, please see Abby’s excellent Ten Things That Scare Me.

4. Spectascribophobia — The Fear of Someone Watching You Write an Email

You knw how when someone over you’re shoulder and fingers forget type and I’m not uusally usualyl usully usually this bad at words and oh god I;m sorry i’m such a failure at everyunf.

5. Scientarachnophobiaphobia — The Fear of Other People Knowing that You’re Afraid of Spiders

At some point, I discovered that my fear of spiders is inversely related to the number of people who are in the room with me at any given time. I have been known to pick up spiders with my bare hands and deposit them outside—usually accompanied by some variation on “Aw, hey there, little guy! I know I’m big and scary, but if you’d just come with me real quick we can get you back home to where there’s lots of yummy mosquitos! :)”—but only if there are at least two other people in the room with me.

The script when I am alone, especially if the poor spider decides to reveal itself within a foot of me, is something closer to “Where the hell did you come from, you little arachnid bastard! I swear to spider Jesus that if your miniscule brain even thinks of putting one hairy little leg on my arm I will kick your tiny ass all the way back up to Opisthothelae!” and accompanied by a scramble for something vaguely weaponish (and hopefully long-range).

6. Pithecophobia — The Fear of Monkeys

Okay so this one’s actually real, but I just need to get it off my chest. Unlike many people, my discomfort with monkeys did not result from watching Planet of the Apes; it came from hearing a radio story about a woman whose friend’s pet monkey chewed her face off (complete with the recorded 911 call, in which the woman, her friend, and the pet monkey can all be heard screaming), which, some might argue, is not ideal listening for a twelve-year-old on her middle school commute. (Curse you, Free Beer and Hot Wings in the Morning.)

7. Egochristicolaphobia — The Fear of Being Associated with the Word “Christian”

A recent conversation with a colleague:

Her: “Where’d you do undergrad?”
Me: “Calvin.”
Her: “Really?
Me: “Yeah.”
Her: “I never would’ve guessed that. I thought you were a U of M girl.”

I didn’t ask her why, because I already knew.

8. Kakodoxaphobia — The Fear of Having the Wrong Opinion

Kakodoxaphobia is not the fear of having an incorrectly-informed opinion, a belief or preference that might change based on the acquisition of more or more complete information; kakodoxaphobia is the fear of having the wrong opinion, having an opinion that makes you look stupid or tasteless or childish. It’s saying “I watch a lot of foriegn films” when what you mean is “I’m into anime” and refusing to admit that you actually like how McDonald’s food tastes.

(For the eagle-eyed: This one alone is rooted in Greek because doxophobia and allodoxaphbia—the not-fake fears of expressing and hearing opinions, respectively—are; that and because falsasententiaphobia doesn’t look or sound nearly as good.)

9. Censepraeteritdicophobia — The Fear of People Judging You By What You’ve Said in the Past

The reason I always add “but who knows, that may change” when I tell people I don’t want to ever get married, even though I’m pretty sure it won’t.

10. Nesciophobia — The Fear of Not Knowing What You’re Really Afraid Of

You may have noticed that none of the fears above are actually fears; they are, at worst, mild inconveniences or expressions of my personal hang-ups and social anxieties. (With the possible exception of pithecophobia, which I don’t actually have; I just don’t like monkeys.) I am certain there are situations—having myself or a family member caught in a natural disaster or the victim of a personal crime—that would cause me to be frightened, but I am hard-pressed to come up with things that scare me. 

This may be a quirk of my particular response to my mental illness. Since my own brain tried to convince me to kill myself, there haven’t been many hypotheticals that get my pulse racing. Or maybe my lack of fear simply means that I’ve had it damn good so far, that I’d know what scares me if I’d been there or done that or had that done to me.

Abby’s scared of people dying. Of inescapable inadequacy. I’m not. And maybe that’s what I’m scared of. Fear proves that you care. Fear proves that you have the capacity for courage. We all know that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but what if it’s worse to not be afraid?

(I am afraid that I do not know what fear is.)


  1. Kyric Koning

    Oh you Romans, borrowing all that Greek stuff! What a brilliant post. Your wordsmithing is marvelous, the way you make the descriptions both pithy and clever is fantastic, and the way you didn’t leave it as merely a joke post at the end by giving us a moment of vulnerability that we can carry into our own lives is priceless.

    • Annaka Koster

      Thanks, Kyric! I had a lot of fun breaking out the old Latin dictionary (and by that I mean the web archive version of William Whitaker’s words). Enjoyed your piece on anime this month, by the way; we may have somewhat different tastes in shows but it was great to see Dio’s face on the post calvin’s homepage.

      • Kyric Koning

        Haha. Yeah, I have a Latin to English (and vice versa) translator on my computer. Handy stuff from my Latin days.

        Thanks! Understandable that we have different tastes. I think mine might be a little eccentric, honestly. What kinds do you like?

  2. Katie VZ

    Why, why, did the 2000s(?) news media spread that story re: the face eating monkey so graphically? I remember this, too, and I wish I didn’t.

    A characteristic mix of humor, honesty, and a conclusion to stop one’s scrolling.


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