Thursday, April 26, 2012


They're out there. They're watching you. Every breath you take and every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take.... No, wait, that's Sting and The Police.

This is much, much worse. It might affect your choice of insurance companies, your choice of Disney cartoons, your choice of where to idle away a sunny day - Boston Public Gardens is definitely to be avoided. It might cause you to have a panic attack around people named Donald or Daisy. You might not want to watch The Big Bang Theory because one of the characters is named Howard. It puts the "foul" in, um, er, waterfoul...I mean, waterfowl. (Well, heck, they sound the same!)

What is it? It's the dreaded anatidaephobia, that horrible sneaking feeling that every breath you take, every ... wait, been there, done that. Let's take that again:

What is it? It's the dreaded anatidaephobia, that horrible sneaking feeling that you are being watched by a duck.

Anatidaephobia comes from Greek.  

Anatidae is the Greek word for the family of ducks, geese, swans and and other nasty, wet flapping creatures.

Phobos is the Greek word for fear. (It's also the name of one of Mars' small moons, so if that's what you're afraid of, you have Phobosphobia. Forget about exploring the red planet.)

Fortunately, unless you're totally quackers to begin with, you don't have to worry about anatidaephobia. OK, you might worry about spellling it correctly because your average spell checker may flag it even if you get it right. But other than that, relax.

Anatidaephobia is not a real phobia. It is a word dreamed up by the loony Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side, in 1988.

So go to the park. If it rains, feel free to duck in to a nearby coffee shop to meet your friends, Donald, Daisy and Howard. Try not to notice if they're not wearing pants - although maybe Howard is due to trademark issues.

If someone yells "Duck!" hit the dirt. Don't worry about who, or what, might be watching.

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