New Year’s Eve. For me, the three most loathed words in the festive calendar. Just as we’re recovering from the stress of Christmas, there’s that interim period of anxiety, wondering how to say goodbye to the old and bring in the new.
It’s like the period between someone dying and the funeral. You’ve endured the initial grief and now you’re suspended in emotional mid-air as you await the final goodbye.
December 27th is the death knell. With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day now in the coffin, there are still a few more days before we can bury the year.
I dread December 31st. The expectation, the cost, the depressed feeling at midnight, pondering what you didn’t manage to accomplish in the 364 days leading up to it.
The deluded hope that you’ll drop those extra pounds, give up drinking, meditate as the sun comes up.
But what I hate most are the parties. Despite being a very social animal, I hate NYE parties, which bring out my worst phobias – and other conditions that usually lie dormant – to the surface.
Claustrophobia -– too many people. Misophonia – literally, a hatred of sound, which I have all the year round but have developed techniques to control it. But here’s the biggie, and by far the main reason why, yet again, I’ll be giving NYE a miss.
Globophobia – a fear of balloons. Yes, it is a real fear. And I have it by the air load.
I am in very good company because, apparently, Oprah Winfrey suffers from Globophobia, too. So, while many of you will be out enjoying funny hats, streamers and dangerous liaisons, Oprah and I will be indoors, cowering in a corner – because we both can’t be within screaming distance of balloons.
Unless I receive an invitation to Oprah’s balloon free party, it’s going to be another silent night, watching Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper on the TV, getting increasingly jolly as they down shots.
The likelihood of bumping into a clown on NYE is also pretty high, and I suffer from Coulrophobia – a fear of clowns. But then what sane person doesn’t, if they’re honest. Worse, though, I have severe Metamfiezomaiophobia – a fear of mime, clowns and people in disguise.
I also suffer from Maskaphobia and can’t be near anyone wearing a mask. It’s why I find it difficult to talk to anyone with a beard, either – pogonophobia, should you be interested.
Let’s just say that my worst nightmare would be a balloon filled Marcel Marceau concert attended by Prince Harry lookalikes. The only comfort would be that it would keep my misophonia in check. But at what cost?
It sounds mad, I know, but I really can’t go near anything that has its face covered or distorted in any way. I can’t date men with moustaches or beards. My fear of the dentist has nothing to do with the drill and all to do with the dentist’s mask and I have to close my eyes as it looms near.
I have never and could never attend a masked ball. Masks and balloons – dear lord, call the paramedics. I’ve had it from a very young age and after a NYE party at which an enormous netted sack of balloons was dropped from the ceiling, I’ve stayed at home.
The one good thing about a funeral is that you’re unlikely to have to go into balloon avoidance mode.
Most globophobics can’t touch, feel or go near a balloon for fear it will pop – although, technically, that is phonophobia. I just have a fear of balloons in general. To me, they are a sinister, unpredictable presence, like spiders – don’t even get me started on my arachnophobia. Their hideous colors bob along the floor like buoys in the sea, pretending they are stable but all the time plotting to descend upon you when you are least expecting it
My mother once told me that, as a child, I had a recurring nightmare when I would wake crying, insisting that my room was full of balloons. There is just something about the texture, the tightness and the meanness of a rubber balloon that sends my heart rate and blood pressure racing.
Remember those party games from childhood – passing a balloon along a row either between your knees or under your chin? All the time in terror, should you squeeze too tightly and have the hot rubber explode, causing third degree burns?
I’m okay with foil balloons, but that’s probably because they deflate at their own rate. I don’t rush screaming into the house if I see a hot air balloon – although you would never get me into one without resorting to chloroform. I’m ambivalent towards bubble gum, though, and that bulbous oral monstrosity that people blow when chewing it genuinely makes me feel sick.
The festive season is a very stressful time for so many phobias. Imagine being born at the end of the year, suffering from the party phobias and also Fragapanophobia – a fear of birthdays. And spare a thought for those attending a NYE dinner where duck is on the menu. Who, knows, they might be suffering from Anatidaephobia – a fear that one is being watched by a duck.
I didn’t think I suffered from the latter, but now I come to think about it, I suspected something was watching me when I went for a Chinese meal last week and selected the crispy duck.
The possibilities of emotional trauma are endless, so unless you’re one of those people desperate to see the ball drop in Times Square – and wearing a diaper for seven hours because you won’t be able to get to a rest room – you really are best off staying at home.
It’s the best night of the year for agoraphobics.
So, happy partying all. I’ll be celebrating with you – from a distance.
With my new best friend Oprah, of course.