Our intern Michael in the Montreal office is actually from New Hampshire, and he's all serious and stuff. You might remember him from a couple of weeks ago, when we asked him whether farts were actually just air-poop, and he researched the subject for us and delivered a considerate answer. Recently, we asked Michael what he was scared of, and because he's a serious guy he answered seriously. "Heroine" was one of the things on his list, along with "driving in the rain - as a passenger or driver," "standing on a balcony above the third floor," and "playing tackle football." But by far the most interesting thing on his list was "sticking my arm into a hole". So of course we had to ask Michael to go stick his arm into some holes and document the results. We want what's best for him but he said we were sadists.
This was the first hole I found. It was kind of dark when I went scouting. The flash from the picture allowed me to see directly inside, which didn’t help. It was all rusted and calcified. It reminded me of the opening sequence of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original one, where the flash of the camera showed only parts of the decayed body. My friend holding the camera purposefully fucked up taking the picture, meaning my arm was in there for a good 2 minutes. He's an asshole.
If I had to trace my fear of holes, it would probably come from the mini-series IT. The first scene of the movie shows a little kid drop his new paper boat into a sewage drain. Looking in the hole, he sees Pennywise the Clown who convinces the kid A) it’s perfectly acceptable for a clown to be hanging out in a sewer and B) to stick his arm in the hole. As I was doing this, I kept thinking of that clown repeating “we all float down here.” It had drizzled a little earlier, so water was dripping on my hand, seriously freaking me the fuck out.
This one was the worst. We have a rat problem in my apartment and they come to and fro the little hole here. I couldn’t shake the image that the rats were waiting down there in anticipation. I couldn't get my arm down there but I stuck my hand in as I could and then it got jammed. At first it wasn’t any worse than the other holes but when I tried to get my hand out I began to panic and started jerking my arm as hard as I could. I nearly had a panic attack. After catching my breath, I turned my wrist slightly and my hand came out smoothly. No one was with me so I couldn't get a picture of the hole and my hand in the hole at the same time. Sorry.
In conclusion, this exercise didn’t soothe my irrational fear of holes, mainly because I know it’s irrational in the first place. I will say that I now have a little more compassion for people who have really crazy fears, like balloons or olives, and then go on Maury Povich and allow themselves to be tortured in front of a mocking studio audience.