It’s safe to say, most of us would be scared to be a race car driver like Dale Earnhardt Jr. As it turns out, Earnhardt would be too scared to take our jobs, too.
On his podcast this week, the Daytona 500 winner talked about his longtime, and apparently somewhat crippling, fear of jewelry.
“My jewelry phobia is real,” he said. “I don’t like wearing it, and I don’t like being close to it.”
This isn’t the first time he’s spoken about this. “[Jewelry] just kind of grosses me out, always has,” he said in 2015. “I don’t really like being around it.… It’s one of those things. Some people, it’s snakes or spiders or whatever, but for me it’s jewelry.”
He admitted that his wife, Amy, thought he was using it as an excuse not to get married.
“[She thought] there’s no such thing as a jewelry phobia,” he said on his podcast. “But there is a word. It’s one of them long, crazy words, but it’s real. There’s people that have it.”
Indeed, the word is kosmemophobia, and there are other people who have it, at least according to the internet.
Here is how one sufferer describes it on a blog post: “I’d like you to think of your typical day—the people you encounter, the places you go, the things you do, the items you work with. Done? Now I’d like you to take all of those images you’ve just compiled and locate all of the jewelry visible in them. Pretend that you are absolutely revulsed by each and every such instance, each individual frame of them you see in your mind’s eye. I would not be pretending. Such is my torment.”
Even watching Titanic would be torture for this person, because of you know what: “It would likely make me vomit if I were ever forced to watch it.”
A different person puts it this way: “For me, touching jewelry is sort of like touching a toilet seat covered in mold and rust—nasty and not something I can do very long. And afterwards, it leaves an annoying tingle on your skin that you just want to wash off.”
Granted, these reactions do not appear to be all that common: Fear of jewelry didn’t make this list of 100 phobias, which includes fears of cotton balls, bananas, and beards. A Facebook group devoted to jewelry phobia has 565 members, less than the 600 who signed up for the group devoted to the fear of belly buttons.
The mind is a strange thing, and people can form weird associations. Given how central jewelry is to everyday life, and how emotionally loaded and significant jewelry can be, it’s perhaps not surprising that people develop strong reactions to and sometimes a fear of it, even if they are race car drivers. Kosmemophobia looks like it is, unfortunately, a very real thing. It is also, fortunately for us, very rare.
(Image from Wikipedia; credit: Sarah Stierch)