[Editor's note: I once wrote a post inappropriately titled, “There is Nothing to Fear but Gear Itself.” It was meant to be a pun on the famous FDR quote – wait, this reminds of a horrible story from my childhood, I’ll finish that thought at the end of this post – where was I? Oh, my point was that gear is not the only thing to fear, and in fact it does not need to be feared at all, unless you’re on the opposing team to these guys. So really the title made no sense, but unfortunately it stuck. Then all by myself alone without any help from a comment to this post, I single-handedly got the brilliant idea to write a post about fear, but lo and behold, the good post title was already taken. So in case you read this blog for the post titles, hopefully the content will hold your interest this week.]
Today we wanted to let you in on our deepest and darkest fears about our upcoming travels. The information we share in this post we will have never before told anyone, so if you are the first to read it (and not just skip to the Puzzles for Postcards), then consider yourself among Zhou’s and my closest friends.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the four major obstacles to overcome to enjoy a round-the-world journey: motivation, time, perception and money. However, just as Junior was afraid to tell his dad that he was competing in the Olympics, we were afraid to tell you about the fifth and most important obstacle: FEAR.
Most of you probably don’t know this, but FEAR is actually an acronym, just like SCUBA or BL. Back in the dinosaur age, cavemen made up the word to describe how they felt about Food, Exploration, Absence and Revenue. ( I think this was before the wheel but after fire, but don't quote me on this.) Let me explain.
Fear of food: despite anything that Zhou may tell you, I did not invent picky eating. I come from a long line of picky Currys, most of whom were probably pickier than me. The difference between me and them though, is that I’m about to blog about my eating habits on a trip around the world. And roughly 137 million people will end up reading about it. (Anything more than that is just gravy, another food I don't really care for.)
To be perfectly honest, this is one of my two biggest fears on the trip. I can think of two different strategies for overcoming this fear: the Omnivore strategy and the Survivor strategy. The Omnivore strategy would definitely make me a better person in the long run, as it involves learning to like foods that you absolutely hate. When I was just 11 years old, Jeffrey Steingarten wrote that if you force horrendous foods down your throat over and over again (eight to ten times) that you will eventually like them. I liken this to if you're punched in the face nine times, the tenth won't hurt all that much. Regardless, I'm glad that my parents didn't read this article when it came out.
The Survivor strategy, which I am currently executing to perfection, involves not changing eating habits whatsoever until you're thrown into the fire (figuratively - remember this phrase though when you read the end of the post). I've decided that I'm going to enjoy every meal from here until September 9th, because who knows if I'll get to enjoy another one for 11 more months. And I figure if I'm hungry enough, I'll eat what I need to on the trip.
Fear of exploration: I once watched an interview with Christopher Columbus, and the one thing he reiterated throughout was how afraid he was that the Indians would wind up being monstrous aliens from outer space. After all, he was crossing vast oceans into uncharted territory, so who knew what he'd run into?
Ok, so this didn't actually happen, but I'm sure even Columbus had to have doubts as he pushed off across the Atlantic. And since I'm originally from Columbus, I'm allowed to be afraid of the unknown as well. Of the 30 countries we currently have scheduled on our itinerary, I have never been to 30 of them. In layman's terms, that's every single one. In horror movies, often times the protagonist will be scared out of his mind as he walks slowly through his house, knowing that a killer could be around any corner. But that's his house! He's been there for many years, and knows it like the back of his hand. Yet here I am about to boldly go where I've never gone before! Of course I'll have a little fear in the back of my mind.
Fear of absence: in addition to fear of food, this is my other biggest fear. The things that make me happiest in life are my family and friends (and chili dogs), so it will be hard being away for so long. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I don't really see how that applies here because I'd rather spend time with my family and friends than grow fonder of them. Just like I would rather have millions of dollars than grow fonder of it from a distance. Fortunately though, without getting too mushy, I am very lucky to be spending the next year with Zhou, so that works as an excellent antidote to this fear.
Fear of revenue, or lack thereof: I have spent the last two years of my life seeing how much trouble companies can get into with steep drop-offs in their top-lines, yet this clearly hasn't deterred Zhou and me. A little insider information: don't buy stock in us now, as our income is about to drop faster than Ashley Simpson's after her appearance on SNL.
I think what will be even more daunting than losing our income for the next year will be trying to get it back once we return. And to top it off, Zhou will be heading to grad school, leaving me to fend for the both of us. I'm just going to have to buy a lot of lottery tickets and hope we get lucky.
Back to the story that I referenced earlier. After winning the Super Bowl one year, my family and I went to Disney World to celebrate. This was back in the day that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was big, and they had a replica version set up for all park-goers. It worked like this: 200 or so people would be let into the replica studio every hour, and from this group, people would win their way on stage to sit in the hot seat, with a chance to win real prizes. (I believe instead of a million dollars, if you made it all the way you'd get a Caribbean cruise for two, although you'll soon find out that winning this would never even cross my mind.)
I don't remember how the first contestant was picked, but I'm sure it was through one of those old fastest finger questions. Anyway, once the first person made it to the hot seat, the next contestant would be picked by answering the hot seat questions faster than anyone else in the crowd. Basically, as the first person would get the question, the audience would all be clicking really fast on their thingamajigs when they knew the answer.
As skill would have it, I, at 13 years old, was the fastest in the audience to get all the questions correct, so as the current contestant took the walk of shame back down the losers' tunnel, I gleefully pranced down the stairs to the hot seat, ready to win that top prize. (Looking back on it, I wish I would have tripped down the stairs and broken my arm to avoid any humiliation.)
I sat down and explained to the host a little about myself, and then we were off. Question #1: "Finish the following quote: 'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the ____.' (a) kitchen, (b) country, (c) fire or (d) wool underwear." I had no idea! I had never heard that saying before! Fortunately though, they wanted the contestants to get the first five questions right so they could selfishly promote Disney World by giving you a shirt. If I didn't know, the host would help me out.
Thirty seconds passed, and it became clear to the host that I didn't know. He started to say someth- "cfirefinalanswer." I blurted it all out without taking a breath. The host looked at me with great shame, as if to say "I would punch you in the face if you weren't a child." The audience moaned, and I saw my family quickly sneak out the back door so as not to be seen with me. I quickly realized that this was not the correct answer, so as quickly as I had sat down, I was booted out of the chair and down the losers' tunnel. They wanted me to sign some form saying I would not compete again for at least two years, or something like that. Actually, they might have given me the special form that said never to come back... I can't really remember. All I know was that I would forever be linked with this guy.
PS - Yes, I know it was not FDR, but Truman who said that quote. I figured that out while I wallowed in my own self-pity.
Puzzles for Postcards (list of winners):
Some Kind of... Song VQs:
Scrabble Games: 44 (full log)
Zhou WPLB: 24; 367; 313; WALKERS
Kevin WPLB: 20; 365; 454; REEDITS, UPsTAGE, INTERAcT