Dealing with ornithoscelidaphobia (aka, the most irrational fear ever)

My sister and I in Florida, circa 2005. This dinosaur didn’t move, so I was alright.

I have this completely illegitimate fear of dinosaurs.

Yes, you read that right. Dinosaurs. Those things that have been dead for, oh, I don’t know, 65 million years.

I blame my parents.

It all started after my parents took my brothers and sister and I to a dinosaur museum/theme park that featured moving animatronic dinosaurs, scary, dark lighting, and rooms filled with growls and rumbles. I think they thought it would be enjoyable. After all, we loved “The Land Before Time”.

They were wrong.

My five-year-old self was terrified. I was young, but I’d like to think that I understood the dinosaurs wouldn’t  actually hurt me, but the set-up was so realistic that I barely made it out of the lobby. And once I was out of the lobby, I immediately returned (it was the only well-lit room). And I’m pretty sure the first room was only the herbivores. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened had I been confronted by T-Rex.

“Jurassic Park” also could have contributed to this fear. Before watching that movie, dinosaurs were the lovable creatures who were just trying to stay alive and find their moms.

Anyway, fast-forward thirteen years. My mom, sister and I are boarding the dinosaur ride at Disney World. Being 18, a fresh high school graduate months away from leaving the nest and embarking on the new adventure called ‘college’, I thought my dinosaur fears were behind me.

They were not.

I spent the majority of the ride with my head buried in my mom’s shoulder. I’m pretty sure I only saw about 50 percent of it, but I’m 100 percent sure that what I did see cemented my fear of dinosaurs (even if they were neon-colored, flashy ones). It was actually rather embarrassing to exit the ride and check out the photo wall (I didn’t realize a photo was even taken, what with all the flashing lights and roars. And the fact that my main view was of my mom’s back) just to see a picture of you (and your sister, btw) cowering with mom sitting in the middle, laughing.

It was not flattering.

During the same vacation, I had another terrifying, death-flashing-before-my-eyes encounter with dinosaurs, though the terror wasn’t entirely dinosaur-related. It all went down in Universal Studios on the Jurassic Park ride — one of those boat rides where you float around for a bit before being pulled to a top of a huge hill, making a big splash when you reach the bottom. I was getting on as a single rider (in a family of six, waiting in line so you all get on the same train takes three times as long) and was paired with a family of four: mother, father, and two young children (probably around 8 and 11 years old). I was sitting on the outside of the boat with one little kid next to me. His mom sat next to him, then the other kid, and then the father.

Now, the family was probably really nice. The mom attempted to strike up a conversation, but as soon as the ride started I began to panic.

You see, the family was rather large. As in the big-boned kind of large. When the ride attendant put the safety bar down (and it was just a bar) it barely moved. I kept yanking on it, trying to get it to go a bit further down, before looking over and realizing it was already digging in to the father’s stomach.

This would not be good.

There was nothing holding me in to the stupid little boat. The bar left enough space on the end that I could have easily gotten out without any problems. In fact, my sister probably could have sat on my lap and we would have still been comfortable. I kept thinking the attendant would notice and let me catch the next ride, but once we were seated and the bar was “down” he gave the signal and we were off.

The entire time the boat took its little tour through the jungle, rode its way into the science lab that was being attacked by raptors, and was almost was eaten by T-Rex, dinosaurs were the least of my worries. Instead, a movie played over and over again in my head of the next day’s news broadcast with a video of the boat going down and me sliding out the side and falling to my death.

I had quite the imagination.

Anyway, in an effort to protect myself, I slowly slide my way to the center of the boat. By the time we reached the highest point and started to go down, I had pushed the poor little boy so close against his mother that he could barely raise his arms as he fell. Also, an entire person could have fit on the bench next to me, even though the ride was only built to seat five. And I had wrapped my arms completely around the bar, just in case I did slide out.

In the end, nothing dramatic happened. I barely came out of seat, and certainly didn’t come close to flying off the boat. Actually, the complete lack of movement made my actions that much more embarrassing.

When I exited the ride I did find my mom and sister doubled-over in laughter at the photo of me, with my death-grip on the bar and eyes wide with terror, squashing this poor little kid into his mom. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a souvenir picture they considered buying.

We left quickly.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about all this recently because there have been these dinosaur posters popping up all over Ghent advertising the theater show “Walking With Dinosaurs” that will be coming to the Brussels Expo in December. It looks pretty impressive, but I’m not sure if it’s worth spending 35 euros to spend the entire program with my head buried in Joery’s shoulder.