Do you suffer from an irrational fear?
I do, and my guess would be that most people are scared of something that seems trivial or inconsequential to others. My phobia happens to be fairly niche for adults.
I am deathly afraid of mascots, a tough predicament because I am a huge sports fan.
It’s called masklophobia, and symptoms include sweating, crying, shaking and the need to run away. When I tell people they often think I’m joking or that its not that bad, but anyone who has witnessed me interact with a mascot can testify that it does not go well.
As a child growing up in the Calgary area, I have had my fair share of run-ins with Harvey the Hound and Farley the Fox. I remember a terrifying anthropomorphic horse at Aggie Days. In grade six I fractured my heel and had to use a boot cast. Stripped of my ability to run, I was forced to take hacks at Harvey the Hound’s legs with my crutches to keep him at bay during a Flames game.
I had the privilege of seeing an Oakland A’s game when I was a young teenager. To access the stadium from the BART train, we had to cross a concrete walkway over train tracks enclosed in chain link fencing. At the other end stood Stomper the Elephant. I had to resort to using my younger brother as a meat shield, distracting Stomper just long enough to sneak by.
I’m a pretty large guy, so I think that leads others to believe that I shouldn’t be scared. At a Victoria Harbourcats game, some of my friends thought it would be funny to stab me in the back and conspired with Harvey the Harbourcat (Harvey is a popular mascot name) to have him sneak up to my seat.
Let’s just say being a grown man crying in the embrace of a huge fuzzy cat in front of a thousand people is not the most comfortable spot to be in.
At sporting events, I have to keep my head on a swivel so that I know where that mascot is at all times. Marty the Marmot and Harvey the Hound often beat drums to pump up the crowd, making them easier to keep tabs on.
My toughest challenge to date has been Halifax Mooseheads games. They have TWO mascots! One is a moose named Mac, which makes sense based on the name of the team. The other is named Hal — a huge yellow alien-like bear creature. Either of them could pop up in my section or accost me in the concourse.
Coming to Terrace, I thought that I would be safe from mascot encounters. But shortly before Christmas, I was covering a story about the Kermode Friendship Society’s community Christmas dinner. It was truly a heartwarming event that continued tradition even during COVID-19 by providing hundreds with warm holiday dinners via a drive-thru.
There was only one problem: Kody Kermode. Luckily I was able to give him a wide berth and avoid contact.
I know most mascots mean well and that they are supposed to be fun and friendly, but I just can’t get over my phobia.