My Top Ten Fears In Which The Worst Case Scenario Is Actually Not That Bad

There are a lot of things I’m terrified of. Big deal stuff, little deal stuff, stuff that doesn’t even make sense. Still, for every fear that has dire consequences should it come true (dying from a brain aneurysm), there are plenty in which the worst case scenario is just not that big of a deal. The sort of fear you can rationalize yourself out of, or at least you can if you’re not me.

Getting Lice

What I Think is Going to Happen:

Once the lice completely take over my hair without my knowledge, I will pass it to everyone I know, who will hate me forever. Everyone else who finds out I have lice (or had lice at any point in the past over age 6) will forever shun me as unclean and/or tell all their friends. Then I will have to shave my head bald and burn all my clothing and sheets leaving me naked, alone, jobless and poor. Eventually the lice will mutate into super-strong body lice which will eat away at me for the rest of my life.

What Might Actually Happen:

I will have to wash my hair with special shampoo and do a bunch of laundry.

 

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Looking in the Mirror in the Dark

What I Think is Going to Happen:

Bloody Mary or that chick from the Ring is going to come out at me. Alternatively I might see a severed ghost head next to my reflection. And/or that thing from Paranormal Activity 3.

What Might Actually Happen:

I will see a dimly lit version of myself.

 

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Running Into My Ex Unexpectedly

What I Think is Going to Happen:

My ex will be looking unusually good and I will have just slipped into a pile of mud. Also The Ex will be in the process of making out with a richer, smarter, better looking version of me who is also a polyglot and maybe an animal rights activist. When I go to say “Hi,” The Ex will be extremely snide and/or loudly announce something embarrassing about me in front of a bunch of potential future lovers (who just happen to be there) and/or steal any possible love interest I’m currently with and/or go postal and freak out yelling at me and/or (worst of all) not remember me. Then my ex will board a private jet to Tahiti with Lizz 2.0 (who I also just remembered has better bangs than me). Afterwards I will be so emotionally crippled that I will never leave my house again.

What Might Actually Happen:

It will be really awkward for like two minutes, particularly if either of us are with someone else. The being snide thing could happen I suppose. In the very unlikely event that one of my exes does go postal and start flipping out on me, I will leave the situation and make fun of them later.

 

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Not Becoming a Doctor

What I Think is Going to Happen:

This is a combo fear of general failure and of having no control over the person I will become. For me, this means failing out of med school; failing my boards; failing internship year; failing out of residency or, of course, quitting at some stage for unknown reasons. After deviation from my path of becoming a doctor, my life will become meaningless and I will never work another job and have to live forever in the dark of my parents’ basement.

What Might Actually Happen:

Fears about not becoming who you think you’re going to be presuppose that somehow you’re not in control of your own destiny and things are just happening around you. If, for some reason, I end up leaving the medical field, it will almost definitely be because I’ve decided that it’s not really what I want to be doing. There are a million jobs in a million fields out there and eventually I would find a way to pay off 200K of medical school debt. Alternatively I could continue to nurse my writing career and that would actually be awesome because then I would get to be with The Team forever.

Additionally my parents are cool and living in their basement to pick up the pieces of my life at any point in time would probably be really okay.

 

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People Thinking My Writing Isn’t Funny

What I Think is Going to Happen:

After spending hours and hours laboring over an article that’s supposed to be funny, everyone who reads it hates it and lets me know in hundreds of comments. My article is so not funny that everyone stops reading my stuff and some people even write Riese to tell her to fire me. Obviously she does, but before then the article makes its way across the internet as the lamest article ever. All the internet coverage leads Rachel Maddow to report on how lame the article is and, following Maddow’s disapproval, Brown rescinds my medical school acceptance. (See above.)

What Might Actually Happen:

Things I write are destined to sometimes not be funny. However, instead of everyone freaking out about how lame I am, what really happens is just that no one really pays much attention. This is sucky in its own way, but certainly not career-ending.

 

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Speaking Chinese in Front of Native Speakers

What I Think is Going to Happen:

Even though I took Chinese for much of college, I’m plagued by fear of actually speaking the language with someone . While attempting to order in Mandarin in a Chinese restaurant, a native speaker will be so unimpressed with my Chinese that they’ll either think I’m making fun of them or that I’m completely stupid. At some point, the person I’m speaking with will start speaking too quickly and I won’t be able to follow them. Alternatively they’ll start speaking really slowly and I still won’t understand them which will be even more embarrassing. Then, they’ll call all their friends over to listen to how poorly I speak, causing me to become choked up and unable to speak at all. Probably they’ll form a circle around me and giggle. Additionally, at some point, I’ll end up over-paying for something.

What Might Actually Happen:

In my experience talking with people who don’t speak my native language perfectly, usually I’m just impressed anyone speaks a second language at all. I’ve also not yet formed a circle of laughing folks around a non-native speaker. Thus, I have to assume that the worst thing that could actually happen if I ever get up the nerve to talk to a native speaker in Chinese is that if we can’t communicate we’ll find someone to translate between us or use body language/pictures.

 

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Sitting in Gum

What I Think is Going to Happen:

I will sit in gum on the bus and then have gum on my ass all day. Everyone will point and laugh at me.

What Might Actually Happen:

Well, I will have gum on my ass all day, but probably people won’t point and laugh. Possibly they will laugh quietly to themselves.

 

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Clowns

What I Think is Going to Happen:

I know I probably just saw It too young, but as far as I’m concerned clowns are not to be trusted. They could be hiding a knife in those big pants. Why are they wearing all that creepy make-up? What are they hiding? A drive to kill me. Or maybe not kill, but at least strangle or maybe poke me with menacing undertones. There’s also a good chance the clowns will capture me and force me to also become a clown and wear a permanent faux smile while I tell bad jokes and embarrass unsuspecting people. Even worse, I’m scared the clown is going to make me interact with them and embarrass me.

What Might Actually Happen:

Okay, clowns don’t actually kill people, but clowns are always miming, and touching you and pulling quarters from behind your ear. A clown will probably tell me a bunch of bad jokes and I’ll have to pretend to laugh, but at least they won’t kill me. If a clown ever gets too all up in my personal space, I can always politely inform them that I don’t like clowns and walk away. I know this will work because my grandmother is a clown.

 

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Asking Someone Out and Getting Rejected

What I Think is Going to Happen:

I approach a girl and ask her out or try to dance with her and she responds by literally laughing in my face. Everyone sees and also starts laughing. Additionally, someone videotapes the whole thing and it goes viral on YouTube. Unfortunately for me the girl who rejected me is the only person who I will ever find happiness with and thus I spend forever alone reliving that moment. Later I find out that the girl who rejected me married my ex and now they have a cat together.

What Might Actually Happen:

Okay, theoretically all of those things could happen except one: never meeting anyone else. (Also, the rest of those things won’t happen.) Even if it makes me feel completely foolish to get rejected, all it really is is one person who doesn’t think we’re right for each other. Probably I’ll actually just feel bummed out for a few days but recover to ask another day. Maybe I’ll even get to review Rejection 101 and rock out to the So You Struck Out playlist. Then I’ll gain a bunch of sympathy from a different cute girl and then use that sympathy to get laid.

 

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Being Bitten By a Spider

What I Think is Going to Happen:

As far as I’m concerned, even the smallest spider will viciously bite me and I will die painfully within seconds from a lethal venom for which there is no antidote.

What Might Actually Happen:

I turn in to Spider-Man.

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.

123 Comments

  1. You an I have so many of the same fears! Especially clowns and mirrors. Or clowns in mirrors. *shudder*

    I have decided to curb my fear of spiders, though. I’ve gathered over time that a lesbian who can kill spiders (or gently move them out of the house) without flinching gets all the girls.

  2. I appreciate your looking on the bright side of things. However, I fear birds and nothing anyone could ever do can convince me that at some point in time I will come across a deranged bird that will see me from afar and something about my physical presence (I speculate it will be my out of control hair) will inspire that bird (or bat) to go totally fucking crazy and attack me. I cove my head in fear when anything flys near me (today it was a tiny moth) but I know that will never be enough to protect me from said attack bird and I will die of fear and/or beak inflicted wounds. I think this will happen and I’m pretty sure it actually could. But that’s just me.

    Sidenote…I enjoy your writing and read your articles even when the topics don’t particularily appeal to me. So no mean comments from me/ appeals for your termination. Though my previous comment might make me sound crazy and limit my credibility.

  3. I keep telling myself I’m being daft avoiding looking in mirrors in the dark but it is really un-nerving! I have no idea what I expect to see!

    My most pointless fear is accidentally knocking my teeth out! Totally ruined ice-skating for me!

  4. I don’t know what the spider one said, I had to fling an arm over my eyes before it jumped out of the monitor and attacked me. It’s well known at the office that I’m terrified of spiders (they think it’s hilarious), I have no shame and will ask someone to come kill a spider. Hell, I had a friend kill a spider on my door because it was near the doorknob and I completely froze.

  5. your writing is funny! I’ll bear witness to that any time even in front of rachel maddow.

    oh and I totally get the speaking in front of a native speakers fear . writing is even worse. (on AS it’s fine tho.It’s full of awesome people!)
    and thats weird beause I think foreigners speaking german is just the cutest thing …
    also mirrors,not becoming anything, gum, lice, spiders totally freak me out too

  6. Two things. First of all, Digger and I had a moment last week when we both stuck our leg out from the table to show off our boots. (Her’s: motorcycle, Mine: combat) We then talked about the article you wrote on boots and how wonderful it is/you are.
    Secondly, spiders. Dear God, why do they have to be so frightening? Why can’t they just do their insect population control thing while not freaking the hell out everyone. Seriously.

  7. I feel like your writing being so unfunny (note: your writing is not unfunny) that it made it all over the internet as the lamest article ever and landed in the hands of RACHEL MADDOW would totally cancel out its status as lamest article ever. I mean, RACHEL MADDOW would know who you were! You would win. You could call her up and ask to explain. You’d have the right to do that. You could show her all your other not-lame work, and make her laugh. You could show her your bangs, and melt her heart.

    This would definitely count as a worst case scenario that was actually 100% not bad at all.

  8. In high school I had this crippling fear that I would forget to put pants on when I changed clothes after gym class. Every time I left the locker room I’d do a double-take downward to ensure that I was DEFINITELY NOT NOT WEARING PANTS.

    But then sometimes I’d forget to check until I was already in the hallway, and would proceed to have a miniature panic attack in the split second before looking down and expecting to probably see my floral-patterned grandma underwear exposed.

    • I DO THE SAME THING!!!!!!!

      That and upon exiting a store when I’m not buying anything, I have to quadruple check that I’m not still carrying items that I was thinking of getting and then decided not to BUT FORGOT TO PUT THEM BACK and then go to jail.

      On second though, jail would be full of women…

  9. This girl, Ashley, that my sister used to babysit was deathly afraid of spiders. We had this one spider that lived above the mirror in the bathroom that everyone refused to kill or put outside, either out of fear or because they liked the spider. One time Ashley had to go to the bathroom but noticed the spider and ran screaming to my sister. My sister had become really fond of the spider (my sister usually refuses to name pets, but she had named this spider) and told Ashley that the spider was staying. Ashley said she didn’t need to go anymore, but my sister, afraid that Ashley would pee her pants, told her to go in the backyard. Ashley said she wasn’t a boy, so she wouldn’t do that. Then things began to escalate and pretty soon my sister was yelling at Ashley to go to the bathroom and Ashley was standing the hall crying. Eventually she went in the bathroom and peed and even washed her hands. The next day Ashley came back, and blithely told me that my sister had cured her of her fear of spiders.

  10. I’m a med student too and had a moment of “I’M NOT ALONE!!!” when I read your fears about not becoming a doctor.

    Although as scary as failing the boards and looking like an idiot rotations are built up in my head, I think whats truly scary is either A) finding out you are a terrible doctor (as another reader posted) or B) finding out that medicine isn’t for me (hopefully its not that one, cuz I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else).

  11. I ran into my ex (or as we refer to her “she who shall not be named”) a few weeks ago. I looked great. Her..Not so much. She even commented on how great I looked and mumbled something about herself “looking frightful..” Does this make me petty..I don’t even care. I looked great. She didn’t. Like the song says, “Hope it gives you Hell”

  12. THE SPIDER!! I would marry any person who was not afraid of bugs because they just creep me out to the max. I also am afraid of using the bathroom after 12am to 5am beacuase something might come out the mirror or I might get pulled into the toliet by some creppy thing when in reality it may not happen..may not.

  13. The looking at a mirror in the dark one is filled with win! Though I don’t know about the what actually happens part of that one. =P I’m not convinced that I wont see that girl from the Ring in my mirror, or even a dark corner of my room for that matter. ._.

  14. ‘I’ll gain a bunch of sympathy from a different cute girl and then use that sympathy to get laid”

    I’m going to be asking out a lot of hot girls…wait…hopefully only one or two…but still…

    Funniest pickup line someone used on me (I will not use on any hot girl) :
    Girl: How much does a polar bear weigh?
    Me: Ummm…
    Girl: Enough to break the ice, hi i’m Jenna.

    Jenna and I didn’t work out, but she got mad props, maybe even a makeout session (it’s all a little blurry).

  15. double and triple yes to looking at myself in the dark. not only is my fear entirely irrational, i’ve never even seen those movies where people see demons in the mirror. i go to ridiculous lengths to not look at myself if the lights are off.

  16. After reading this comment thread, I’ve decided that the fact that I’m a master spider killer/releaser should probably be the first thing I mention on dates from now on.

    Also, mirrors in the dark. I actually used to drape blankets over the mirrors in my room before going to bed. (Now I just keep mirrors in the bathroom so it’s not an issue)

  17. I’m even afraid of running into my current foreign language teacher outside of class because WHAT IF HE TRIES TO SPEAK TO ME IN JAPANESE OMG. In my nightmare scenario I humiliate myself so badly I can’t face him in class and have to drop.

  18. I once had lice for TWO years. When I was 12 I was asked to leave a hairdresser in the middle of getting my hair washed and I had to walk home alone with wet hair in the middle of WINTER. Every three days I was subjected to chemical burns on my head. FOR TWO YEARS. I wasn’t allowed to sleep over at anyone’s house or borrow their clothes or anything. The whole thing made me very emotional.

    I live in constant fear of lice coming back to ruin my life. Fuck spiders, lice are the scourge of the earth.

  19. Flying, stinging insects. I make a complete fool of myself whenever confronted with one. Bobbing, weaving, running, arm waving…the whole nine yards. From a distance it probably looks like I’m doing an eclectic celebration of a dance and NOT keeping it all inside.

  20. Spiders. I can’t. It’s the main reason I can’t move to Australia, no matter how sexy their accents are. The accents of Australians I mean, not that of their spiders.

    There’s one tiny spider roaming in my bedroom and I don’t really know what to do with it. It’ll pop up unannounced, hanging out directly above me on the ceiling, and I’ll be forced to move to the other side of the room. I’ve thought about burning my house down but I don’t think my neighbours would appreciate it…or maybe they would if I explain it to them. I’m sure they would. *switches on gas stove*

      • I think I’ll try throwing things at it while standing in a far distance away, when I have the courage or when I’m drunk. I’ve tried using Swiffers/brooms but I couldn’t reach. Thanks by the way.

  21. Omg this article & all these comments is crying out for an old school personal ad in the local newspaper.

    Your fears = my swrn enemies

    Sngl Lez F. seeks same.
    You:Gldn Rtrvr prsnlty,Awsm hair,2 eyebrows.Likes Rchl Mdw.
    Me:St Brnrd prsnlty,Brwn hair/eyes,2 eyebrows,mltilingl.
    Zombie Apclyps rdy.Likes Flp fri,TBBT.Has cat.
    Will relocate spiders,fight off ex,lice,bldy mary,& clwns.

  22. Omg this article and all these comments are crying for an
    old school personal ad in the local newspaper.

    Your fears=my swrn enemies

    Sngl Lez F. seeks same.
    You:Gldn Rtrvr prsnlty,Awsm hair,2 eyebrows.Likes Rchl Mdw
    Me:St.Brnrd prsnlty,Brwn hair/eyes,2 eyebrows, mltilingl.Has Cat.
    Likes Flip fridays & TBBT. Zombie Apclyps ready.
    Will relocate spiders, fight off ex,lice,bldy mary,& clwns.

  23. COVERED IN BEES!

    Seriously. I’m scared of flying incests that sting/bite and omg bot fly larve in your skin *dies* Mother nature is a bitch for creating hellish things like that.

    • OH GOD, BOT FLIES. I’m not generally squeamish about bugs, but AUGH. I worked on a farm in Costa Rica for a couple of months. When somebody pointed out one of them hovering near our heads and told me what they did, I nearly decided to fly home then and there. Then this person had to carry on descriptively telling me the story of one of their billy goats that got bot fly eggs in his testicles. HE HAD BOT FLY LARVAE COMING OUT OF HIS GROIN, YOU GUYS.

  24. Lizz, 今天怎么样? I completely and totally understand your fear of speaking Chinese in front of native speakers. I, too, studied Chinese through college, and I credit that fact with the fear. They make you too concerned about being perfect and drilling grammar, and you don’t spend any time actually talking.

    But now I live in China, so I’m rather forced to speak with native speakers (although, not, surprisingly, as much as you’d expect). It can be bad. It can involve a lot of miming, some misunderstanding, and a bit of frustration. But mostly people don’t point and laugh. And if they do, you just tell them how rude they are and walk away.

  25. I’ve always harbored a huge fear of speaking Mandarin in front of native speakers, even though my parents are from Taiwan. My accent is so atrocious I sound like a drunk troll and I always felt like the odd one for not going to Chinese school as a kid and taking fun extracurriculars like music/art lessons instead. Since then I’ve bumped into lots of Chinese-Americans or Chinese-Canadians who are in the same boat and I don’t feel ashamed of that anymore. Having stumblingly conversed with native speakers in Mandarin and them returning the favor in English, I’ve found people tend to be pretty encouraging when you make an attempt to speak in their language. I mean yeah, some people will giggle. But the biggest barrier is just a mental one. (like spiders and mirrors and clowns)

  26. Ever since my friends told me about playing Bloody Mary at a sleepover, I have been terrified of mirrors in the dark. When I was a kid, I used to drape a blanket over the mirror before I went to sleep. I couldn’t sleep with the light out until my twenties. Sometimes (more often than I really want to admit) I still can’t.

    Also, also I had this Seventeen magazine with a picture in it of Carrie covered in blood. It scared me so much I put a sticker over it so I would never have to see it again. I was also afraid of the bat boy they featured in the tabloids.

    So I may be kind of a fraidy cat.

  27. I share the mirror fear, I find any darkened reflection of myself to be eerily unsettling. I’m terrified of seeing night-time filmed footage of myself (not like that) walking around/bumping into things in the dark in a blind, groping manner. But mostly I’m terrified of seeing my eyes – blank and unseeing – staring out into the dark, back at me … *shudder*

  28. No problem with creepy crawlers, will deal with them for all of you. Have a catch and release program. Well, unless it’s a cockroach, sorry. And I always like to put myself in the spider’s position, “Holy fuck what is this giant monstrosity!?!”

    Clowns are unsettling but mostly in the annoying ‘do-anything-remotely-threatening-and-I’ll-punch-you-in-the-face’ kind of way.

    I do not like sharks however. They’re cool and interesting yeah, but they also freak me out. And deep water. (cause you know, there might be sharks)

  29. I’ve sat in gum before. Actually, there was a piece of gum stuck to the underside of a desk and when I sat down it got stuck to my leg. I didn’t notice and crossed my legs. So when I uncrossed them…you can imagine. I made a point of telling everyone what happened before they asked, so no one pointed and laughed at me without my permission.

  30. Not becoming a doctor is my legit fear right now. I’m waiting on my grade in biochem right this moment and I was like don’t think about it. Go to Autostraddle and get distracted by the awesome. SADLY, I’m thinking about my grade in biochem.

    YOU GUYS! AHHHHHHHHHHH.

    But other than that, hilarious article Lizz. My second language is Filipino and I always think my classmates will think I’m an idiot for not being magically fluent. When I do speak in Filipino to them they are amazed that I know any Filipino at all and/or they think I’m adorable.

    AND THAT TERRIFYING CLOWN PIC! *shudders*

  31. This list is all too relevant to my life. I’m in nursing school and have very similar fears of failure and consequential life destruction. But I giggled like a lunatic at this article and it made me feel better.
    Especially the spider part, because I will literally burn down my house and never look back rather than sleep in my bed when I know there’s a spider lurking somewhere that I couldn’t get rid of.

  32. I used to be terrified of lice. But, girls, you don’t know my secret!

    Put mayo in your hair, leave it in for an hour, wash it out, and the lice are GONE.

    (Still terrified of spiders though. :()

  33. FUNNIEST. ARTICLE. EVER. I’ve never commented on anything and so had to log back in & remember my password & etc., cuz I have to say: Lizz you are freakin’ rad! Thank you for this. I’ve been laughing so hard over each imagined worst-case scenario. Does it help at all, ladies, to know that your lives as doctors will be infinitely better than being in school? School was a nightmare and practice is heavenly by comparison – That’s my experience! Bonus: I totally got this idea reading this article – if ever I get head lice (very unlikely but also easy to treat, says my father, who is also a doctor) I’m totally going to say I got it from one of my patients! ie. one of my delightful grade school kids!? Yeah, like maybe that will make me seem noble and sweet? PS. Thanks for putting your anxieties to great use: on the internet, to make other people feel better :-]

  34. My biggest fear, which I am a lot better about than I used to be due to therapy, is needles. I didn’t have a single vaccination between 15 and 28 because of my phobia! ;_;

    I did just have my annual flu shot this week… then the next day I was swimming and my arm felt weird and I thought “OH MY GOD MY ARM IS GOING TO SPLIT OPEN LIKE A ROTTEN ORANGE AHHHHH.” But that didn’t happen. Instead it was just sore for a bit and then it felt better.

    • It’s always nice to know I’m not the only one with that fear. Now I kind of came to terms with that (even because I have to open a vein every two months to check for my anemia), but last year everytime I saw a needle I couldn’t breath and I hyperventilated. Now watching a needle and being just annoyed makes me feel like I own the world :)
      I noticed that if you let a lot of time pass between an injection and another my fear usually grows bigger, while if I do it more frequently it actually gets a little bit better (like my mind is convinced that it’s not that big of a deal). Hope this helps!

  35. I got lice when I was working at an orphanage in Nepal. Everybody had them, it was pretty much a non-issue there. Thing is, not only is it true that they prefer clean hair, they also don’t carry or transmit any diseases or anything – so if you are going to be plagued by an infestation of creepy-crawlies (and I’m not saying you should try it for kicks), it might as well be lice. And they’re usually pretty easy to get rid of.

    • When I worked at summer camp, the counselors would just not wash their hair for weeks to avoid the lice. I thought I was the bomb for having short (< 1/2 inch, always) hair, until I realized that meant I got "comb the lice out of campers' hair until 11 pm" duty every time.

  36. omg lizz. MIRRORS. LIZZ. OMG. I FEEL THIS WAY.

    i’ve been slowly trying to get over this fear by exploring the possibility that the ghost story has been popularly misinterpreted and that the best case scenario is that a bloddy mary (fully garnished) will appear in my mirror, and i will get to drink it.

  37. Spiders? SPIDERS?! Centipedes.

    There was one in my bed last night. Tried to get the cat to kill it but he’s a lazy jerk (cute, but still a jerk). Got a broom and started swingin’ for that home run, y’know? Smack! Gotcha, bitch!

    Same with mosquitoes – the really big fuckers that come out during warm seasons. I absolutely cannot relax if they’re buzzing around somewhere. It’s either me or them, and for the love of all that is mighty, it’s going to be them. My lacrosse stick is always at the ready!

  38. Mirrors, clowns o.e just add basically every bug on there and youve got me ;D i tried to get a spider out of my house yesterday and the little beast crawled up my arm o-o

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