Are you fascinated with the things that scare you?

Why are we fascinated with the things that scare us?

I have a fascination with tornadoes. Storms and tornadoes are just a fact of life here. We grew up doing tornado drills in school and everyone seems to have a story. I’ve had a couple of close calls and both my parents and grandparents have had property damage. I always thought it was funny when my grandpa called a tornado that destroyed one of his barns “just a little one”. My husband and I got too close for comfort to an EF-4 one night. I’ve never heard a storm that sounded like that one. The part of Ohio we live in falls in the Hoosier Alley, the northernmost tornado alley. Our official tornado season is from April to July but then we have another “unofficial” season in the fall.

Even from my writing, you can tell I’m fascinated with tornadoes, but I’m also scared to death of them. When a bad storm is coming I hide in the basement even if the tornado siren doesn’t go off. 

(A funny side note — when we would have tornado warnings when I was a child, my older sister would sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as we went down to the crawlspace just to freak me out. This might explain some things.)

I kind of do the same thing with airplanes. I’m often scared to fly. In fact, I haven’t been on a plane in over ten years. I spent a year in Denmark when I was a teenager and even today I shudder at the fact I flew over the ocean. Yet I like to watch shows on airplanes like “City in the Sky” and “Ice Pilots”. I love to see other places, so I’m sure I will get on a plane again. It’s just my heart will be racing the whole time.

Do you have anything that fascinates you but scares the shit out of you at the same time?


  1. says

    “If you’re not within an inch of crashing, you’re not going fast enough.”
    – Mario Andretti, Formula 1 World Champion 1978

    I used to be a huge motorsports fan. It’s not just skill but also science, pushing the limits of materials and aerodynamics. Racing is a blood sport and people sometimes die, but unlike “combat sports”, injuries and brain damage don’t accumulate the same way. Drivers who neither make mistakes nor have equipment failure leave the sport healthy; drivers who have either get hurt or killed. Also unlike “combat sports”, racing series spend huge amounts of money on safety (e.g. HANS device, Halo, SAFER and Tecpro barriers) preventing injuries that used to kill drivers but now they walk away from.

    From my teens to forties, I dreamt of doing it (no $$$) and drove go-karts when I could. But I feel so old and vulnerable now that I stopped doing dangerous things. I used to mountain bike through forest and mountains, crashing into trees and rocks for fun. Now I stick exclusively to asphalt.

    “This isn’t just a thousand to one shot. This is a professional bloodsport. And it can happen to you. And then it can happen to you again.”
    – Michael Delaney (Steve McQueen) on crashing, from the movie “Le Mans” (1971)

  2. suttkus says

    Oh, I find that true of lots of things. Wasps, spiders, and the Trump administration are all examples that come to mind.

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