Monday, November 17, 2008

The Doorbell Dilemma

I have an irrational fear.

Okay, I have several irrational fears. Most of them are unlikely to ever happen. For instance, being eaten by a shark. Still, I can’t watch underwater films without freaking out.

“Is this the ocean?” I’ll ask annoyed moviegoers, peering though my finger. “Could there be sharks? Please tell me they shot this movie on a lake!”

When I was in high school, I worked in a daycare. Every Wednesday was movie day, and when I found out they were watching Free Willy, I feigned illness and got the heck out of Dodge.

Mom and I went to see Finding Nemo a couple of years back, and when the toothy sharks swam on screen, I screamed like a little girl. Toddlers all around me gave me annoyed looks, not scared themselves in the least.

I know I’m not the only one.

I have a dear friend who is scared of her car getting stuck on the railroad tracks. She has this horrible vision that a train will appear out of nowhere and mow her car down. It’s such a serious, irrational fear that she has the train tracks mapped out all over town and routes to get everywhere without having to cross any tracks. In fact, she doesn’t even like to walk across train tracks. When I’m driving her, she’ll briefly grit her teeth and close her eyes until we’re over the tracks.

I have another fear, and it’s pretty irrational. Ready?

Okay, I have a fear that the doorbell will ring; I answer the door, and promptly get shot in the face. I TOLD you it was irrational.

I blame it on all the news coverage of the Amy Fisher case. She’s the teenager who was having the affair with the married man, and then tried to kill his wife, via the above scenario. The man’s (now ex) wife survived, but now I live with the irrational fear that someone is going to ring the doorbell and shoot me in the face.

Stop laughing!

I don’t know how long I’ve had this fear, but it’s been a while. I don’t mind answering the doorbell if I’m expecting it to ring. Say, if we’ve ordered pizza, or Mom’s called to say she’s coming over. I get spooked with the doorbell rings, and I’m not expecting it.

Some little kid selling candy might stand on the other side, or in my warped mind, a twisted and sadistic gunman who knows my husband works second shift.

When Mom and Gary were living with us, Gary worked second shift. Around midnight one night, Mom was asleep downstairs, and Brett and I were sawing logs upstairs. I thought I heard the doorbell. I shook Brett awake to see if he heard it.

“Ghnoring blascanman,” he said, which I took for, “I didn’t hear anything.”

I tiptoed downstairs, prepared to scream my guts out, and saw Gary waiting patiently in the dark. We had accidentally locked the glass door from the inside. I let him in and took a quick glance around the dark to see if any twisted, sadistic gunmen lurked in the dark corners, before locking the door behind us.

The next morning, Mom and Brett declared they’d heard nothing. Gary was grateful for my super-hearing, and I was still hyperventilating from the experience. I hate answering the doorbell.

What makes it worse is that Brett also hates answering the doorbell.

“Honey, door,” he’ll yell, even if he’s standing five feet away.

“So? You get it,” I’ll yell back from the safety of the couch.

“It’s probably no one,” he’ll say, as he ducks out of range of our front windows.

“What if it was somebody,” I’ll ask from the couch. “What if it was important?”

“Nah,” he’ll say and wander whistling back upstairs, hoping to be far away if the valiant bell ringer tries again.

There have been many times, I’ll admit it, that we just don’t answer the doorbell. Me, out of liking my face the way it is, and Brett who’s afraid he’ll have to shell out $5 for some neighbor kid’s band candy sale.

Several times, we’ve been sitting in the living room, hear the doorbell, and then look at each other. We do a mental debate over who it might be, and if neither of us can identify a possible known bell ringer, we absolve each other of our responsibility to answer the door.

“We could be in the shower,” I say for the first excuse.

“We could be taking a nap.” Brett joins in.

“We could be so sick, we can’t answer the door!”

“We could be hearing impaired, recently diagnosed!”

“We could be away from home on a long vacation.”

“I’ve got it!” Brett snuggles in close to me. “Doorbell’s broken, and can only be heard on the outside.”

“I love you,” I declare and kiss my never-ending excuse-maker.

The only problem I deal with is that allowing my irrational fear to continue leaves me with a very unpleasant sensation.


I feel so unbelievable guilty for not answering the door. Now, I know that it’s most likely a lobbyist trying to get my vote, Jehovah’s Witnesses, little kids selling candy, etc. But, there’s always the chance, it’s some fresh-faced teen running from a serial killer and seeking shelter in our house.

But, then again, there’s always the chance she’s going to shoot me in the face. So, really, it’s a wash.

The reason I bring all this up is because our doorbell MAY have been rung at 6:15 this morning. I woke up from a solid sleep next to my snoring husband. I waited to see if I’d hear the sound again, but to no avail. I shook Brett awake.

“Did you hear the doorbell?” I asked anxiously.

“Ghnoring blascanman,” he said lightly.

“I think I heard the doorbell,” I fretted, wringing my hands, totally awake and feeling guilty.

“What time is it?” My husband muttered something unintelligible before resuming his snoring.

I snuck out of bed and tiptoed to the laundry room window which overlooks our front door. I peeked over the window, but I didn’t see anyone.

I climbed back into bed. “Maybe it was just the garbage truck. It kind of dings back and forth when it moves down the street. Besides, who would ring the doorbell at 6:15 in the morning? I mean, who!”

Besides a twisted, sadistic gunmen who might be a neighbor.

Still, I remained sitting up in bed. I felt guilty. What is someone had been out jogging and was being chased by a gun-toting, one-armed man? What then? Had I shirked my duty?

My husband was distracted by me sitting ramrod straight in bed. He leaned to one side and considered me out of one sleepy eye. “Are you okay, hon?”

“Just worried about that stupid doorbell,” I confided.

“It’s okay, baby.” He patted me knee. “It was probably just in your dream.”

“Right! Right!” I got comfortable once again and tried to drift back off to sleep. In the back of my mind, I saw all the people who could have been up and ringing doorbells at 6:15 and decided that if it had been that important, they would have rung more than once.

So, if it was you, I’m sorry I didn’t answer the door. But, word of advice, always call before you stop over.

I like my face the way it is too much to risk it, even for you.


Alice said...

I don't find that irrational at all. Fear is for a reason. I'm terrified of clowns, and several times I have looked in my rearview mirror--only to see a clown driving the car behind me. Tell me I am not justified.

I too rarely answer the doorbell--especially if Darren's not home. Mary Jo Buttafucco is a cautionary tale for us all. You're only using your common sense. Let go of the guilt.

Not only could it be a gun-toting maniac behind the door, it could be a gun-toting maniac CLOWN. Think of that. And be very afraid.

Heidi said...

Ever since I saw the movie "IT", I have been afraid of clowns. I just don't trust them. Thankfully I don't have a doorbell, but if people have hands, they can knock.
Everyone has some kind of irrational fear.

Juliet said...

Ding Dong! It's just your Mom. Let me in.

BJ Boehm said...

I know what Brielle should be for holloween next year!! WAtch out. You might get a nerf bullet in your head.

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

"We could be hearing impaired, recently diagnosed!”
Ha!! That one is my favorite.

I hate doorbells. For different reasons, though. I put tape over mine, with a sign that says "do not ring," and hopefully it's implied that I will HURT you if you wake up my baby!!!

That's not irrational. I just don't like strangers at my door. Ever.

Get a fence all the way around your house. And keep it shut with a bungee cord. Works for us.

Ann-Marie said...

Brett is REALLY good at coming up with excuses. It's nice he can use his power for good once in a while!

karyn said...

I love the classic movie "Laura", but now I'm pretty sure you should never watch it. :-)