I am pithecophobic.
My irrational fear of all primates–including gorillas and apes–was perhaps a result of the trauma I endured upon watching the 1995 film, Outbreak, when I was a kid. My Dad used to rent two to three movies that we would watch over the weekend. He exposed me to a lot of sci-fi and action motion pictures during my childhood, and Outbreak was one of them. I was too young to understand its plot, but I know that it’s about an epidemic of an Ebola-like virus that causes severe bleeding and liquefies internal organs, killing the host in just three days. Boy, do I vividly remember that particular scene from the movie.
This is the same reason why I never enjoyed field trips to the zoo. Monkeys scare me more than the mighty growl of a lion that is capable of bringing the entire house down. In addition to this, the fact that 96% of DNA base pair sequences of humans and chimpanzees are the same freaks me out.
My most recent encounter with monkeys was during our honeymoon in Thailand. One morning, my husband and I decided to stroll along the beach from one end to the other. When we reached the far end of the shore, an open monkey sanctuary welcomed us. Some tourists were trekking along the edge of a man-made trail leading towards the heart of the forest full of monkeys. My husband thought trekking plus a close encounter with them would be quite an adventure, but I relentlessly dismissed the idea.
To satisfy his fascination with those creatures, I allowed him to take photos from his iPhone while I hold our apple green waterproof beach bag for him. We were completely oblivious to our surrounding for a split second when I suddenly noticed that a stray monkey has crossed the waters, and it started moving towards my direction.
Insert anxiety attack here.
I might have screamed through my gritted teeth while my husband reached out for the bag in my hand. Perhaps the monkey thought I was there to feed them. Flashes of images of monkeys rushing aggressively towards me while I remain stupefied in my place, scratching and burying their teeth through my skin, came rushing in. I only got out of my reverie when another tourist gave a banana to feed the stray monkey, and we took it as our cue to leave immediately. That was by far the longest five minutes of my life.
Most people develop an irrational fear of a certain thing from an experience like mine.
So, what’s yours? Attempt to explain or justify.