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Justifying The "B" Word

November 7, 2012

Yes, I admit it; in a moment of weakness I looked my son’s godmother in the face and called her the “B” word. Horrible I know, but don’t condemn me until you know the facts.


Our son’s godparents (I’ll refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. G.) are psychologists and a delightful couple. They live in Sacramento and are our oldest and closest friends—the reason we selected them to be our son’s godparents. They’d agreed to raise little CJ should a tragedy make him an orphan. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were visiting them a few weeks before our first trip to Hawaii. Mrs. C. and I hadn’t traveled anywhere since our son was born and we were bubbling over with anticipation of tropical breezes, white sand and rum drinks served in coconuts.


Wine had loosened our tongues by the time Mrs. G. said to me, “You guys are going to have a great time in Hawaii. I hear the snorkeling is incredible.”


I laughed and said,” You’re kidding, of course. I have no intention of going snorkeling.”


Had Mrs. G. not been working on her second glass of rosé she might have remembered my fear of sharks. Instead, she looked down her sharp nose and said in a tone she, no doubt, used on her patients, “You know, if you go all the way to Hawaii and refuse to go snorkeling because of your fear of sharks, it’s no longer a fear; it will have grown into a phobia.”


“Do you have any idea how many people are killed in Hawaii because of sharks?” I said. “They keep it out of the papers so it won’t affect tourism.”


Mrs. G. shook her head and made a tsk…tsk…tsk sound. She spelled it out: “P-h-o-b-i-a.”


Her words were still haunting me when a few weeks later Mrs. C. and I arrived in Hawaii. I’d be damned if I’d let my fear grow into a phobia. I purchased a snorkel and mask, and like a doomed convict being pushed toward a firing squad made my way into the surf.


I spent nearly two hours in the water. Without my glasses, everything was a blur; every rock seemed to be sprouting razor-sharp teeth and my head was filled with the sound of cello music and blood pounding in my ears. It was the worst two hours of my life, but when I staggered from the waves I was rewarded with the satisfaction that I did not have a phobia.


Months later the Gs visited us in Oregon. We shared pictures of our Hawaii trip and I mentioned my snorkeling accomplishment with pride. Mrs. G. congratulated me. Eventually the conversation shifted to other things.


“Did I mention my grandmother is flying to Israel for a month and has offered to pay all my expenses if I join her?” Mrs. G said.


“That’s incredible!” I knew how proud she was of her Jewish heritage. “When do you leave?”


Mrs. G. shook her head. “I have no intention of going.”


Her answer shocked me. “Why not? It would be a trip of a lifetime.”


“It would require a long flight, and I have no intention of strapping myself into a flying coffin. Do you have any idea how heavy airplanes are? No one can explain to me why they don’t just drop out of the sky.”


“But you’ve wanted to visit Israel for years!” I exclaimed.


She crossed her arms tightly and said, “Not going.”


I thought long and hard, choosing my words carefully. From the far side of the room my wife glared at me, a glare I understood to mean: Do not go there! But I couldn’t help myself.


I looked squarely into Mrs. G’s eyes. “You told me that if I went to Hawaii and refused to go snorkeling, my fear of sharks would become a phobia, so I went snorkeling, and it was two of the worst hours of my life. Now you tell me you’re turning down an all-expense paid trip to Israel because you’re afraid to fly?”


“That’s correct,” admitted the godmother of my child—one of my oldest friends.


“There’s a word for women like you.”


Her eyebrows shot up. “Really. What would that be?”





Note: The Gs are still our oldest and best friends. And eventually Mrs. G. did make that trip to Israel.



Submitted to my good friends at Dude Write.


Even Mrs. G. knew that the B word was deserved.
By: Cheryl P. on November 7, 2012
Yep, you showed up in my feed right nicely. Well, you got away with the 'B' word as your wife didn't put you in the dog house. Good for you. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on November 7, 2012
I just love being a 'bitch' myself!
By: The Broad on November 7, 2012
truth hurts, i suppose. as for snorkeling in hawaii...i've done that. it was a difficult experience, not because i fear sharks but because i attempted it in the hopes that the water would calm my seasick belly. it did not. the first swell hit me and i puked...into the snorkel tube. yeah, ruminate on that image for a moment.....just not when you're trying to eat.
By: lime on November 7, 2012
It seems that your use of the B word was appropriate. I have two female dogs, which grants me a free pass say the word bitch whenever I please. But I've been know to push the boundary a few times :
By: Joe on November 7, 2012
No room here for a URL?? I am commenting, but how will you know where to track me. I rarely, really rarely, check that email above because it is only for tracking blog comments.
By: Tabor on November 7, 2012
I love the new blog! Really great look to it :)
By: Kianwi on November 7, 2012
Sometimes, in a strong situation, you gotta use strong language. And when you use it with friends, it's OK. If they are real friends, they understand.
By: Pixel Peeper on November 7, 2012
After all the therapy, you're still afraid of sharks? Okay, fair enough. As for calling someone you consider a tier 1 friend a... beyotch. If the shoe fits. :) p.s. Do you think the comment field on your site can be enlarged some. It's bloody tiny!
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 7, 2012
Having both a water and a flying phobia, I can relate to your tribulations.
By: Val on November 7, 2012
I probably would have broken out words beginning with "C". You were mild, all things considered.
By: Suldog on November 8, 2012
Funny post! Love the look of your new blog!
By: Kevin Routh on November 9, 2012
Well done on overcoming that fear! And hey, in some casese a well place "bitch" may do more good than long-winded arguments ;)
By: Daniel Nest on November 10, 2012
very impressing post
By: Nasir Iftekhar on November 10, 2012
Nasir Iftekhar nice to read
By: Dr Sethi on November 10, 2012
Haha, nice! I really love your style of writing Stephen. I hope to have the pleasure one day to sit and share a few glasses of wine and conversation with you. p.s. Love the new digs!
By: Michael on November 10, 2012
This was a wonderful post Stephen. I could imagine you snorkeling about, all the while, everything looking like jaws to you. I'm pretty impressed with your determination to not let this be a phobia. If I had gone through that type of stress, I probably would have used the "B" word as well.
By: Ken on November 12, 2012
Good for you for facing your fears. It is easy to judge others, but when it comes time to step up to the plate, it is hard to do.
By: Youngman Brown on November 13, 2012

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