Blog: Scary Ass Bridge

(originally written 11/13/11)

Being weird has a lot of upside.


You can amuse others even without really trying. You have viewpoints that NOBODY else does. Other weirdos generally avoid you. And if you don’t understand something, no one holds it against you. You’re weird. You’re supposed to know things like where old traffic lights go when they’re replaced, not the fundamental differences between an HMO and a PPO. You usually kick butt at trivia games for that reason.


Yet, IMHO, THE top advantage of being weird would have to be…minimal fear. I’m not really afraid of a whole lot. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean that I’ll be using vines to swing from rooftops and rescue kittens from burning buildings. Or that I would pull a Richard Pryor and strike a match on the chest of an inmate twice my size. Or that my first impulse upon discovering a crocodile in a swamp is to jump in with it. No. What I DO mean: many situations/sights/experiences that leave the average human with brown undies haven’t really fazed me in the least, thanks in no small part to my warped mind. I must be lacking a chemical or something.


You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Surely, there must be something that strikes fear in this handsome hombre!” Well, you are right—I do have a Kryptonite. It isn’t needles, or cemeteries, or clowns, or anything like that.


I am almost pathetically afraid of wide-open space with overshadowing large structures.
???


Think the Hollywood sign. On a mountainous hillside, nine giant letters, each one about 1,500 square feet, probably THE ultimate tourist attraction if it were easier to access. If I ever got up there, however, I…would…fall…to…pieces. Being alone in all that open space with those massive iron monsters dwarfing me would reduce Skillz, fire-breathing man-beast, to trembling babble. I would honestly cry for my mom. Honestly. That wasn’t easy to admit, but it’s true.


This fear has been officially recognized since 1991, when I was 11 and rode the school bus to Mare Island in my native Vallejo. Mare Island, of course, was a naval shipyard in those days. Behind the homes we drove past, one could see a vast amount of…open space. But looking closely between the homes, you could also see giant signs reading 1 thru 10. I never knew their purpose—something to do with the military, obviously. All I did know is those big ass signs in that open space freaked me OUT.


Some time back I had a delivery in Isleton, a rural area east of Rio Vista, south of SacTown, and north of Antioch. In fact, a toll bridge connects Antioch to Isleton. It is massive and, at least to me, it is frightening. After making my delivery, my GPS sent me down a long, lonely road to nowhere. The Antioch Bridge, all 75 million feet of it, loomed in the distance. As I drove and drove, it got closer and closer….and larger…and scarier. 


I start freaking out. I DO NOT WANT TO GET ON THIS BRIDGE. I do not want to be near this bridge. I’m afraid if I get too close to this bridge, it will eat me. I’m really freaking out, people. Genuine terror. Think Richard Pryor after he struck that match on that big inmate’s chest in Stir Crazy. But the GPS says to continue straight. By now, it feels like the bridge is in my van with me. I…AM…FREAKING…OUT. This thing, with its’ arc and pillars, kind of resembles the mouth of an angry face  with clouds as the cataract-afflicted eyes. Finally—about 1,000 feet before the river’s shore—my turn emerges. Without realizing it until later, I have blocked my window with the visor. If I can’t see it…it’s not there, right? You don’t have to tell me how pathetic that is. It’s pretty clear. 


(There’s also a story involving an elevated mansion in Hiddenbrooke I visited a decade ago…but I’m not here to talk about the past. Or about hiding from the moon.)
I’ve tried many times to play the role of shrink and determine WHY I can walk tall through a cluster of gangbangers, not break a sweat in the same space as a gunman, and pitch to a softball foe even after he’s smoked me in the head with a line drive…but I can’t handle something like a stupid bridge. The best I came up with:


“Skillz, it appears you have a case of outsized ego syndrome. In your mind, you are larger than life, plus you are physically larger than most people you know. Furthermore, your ego has saddled you with a level of significance and importance far exceeding that of the average man. It gives you confidence, a swagger, if you will. When you are out in the open and these large structures overshadow you, your sense of significance is taken away. You are faced with irrefutable evidence you are not the biggest thing going and certainly not the most significant. Stripped of that security, you are nothing more than a child, and the signs/Antioch Bridge/mansion, etc. are the monsters under your bed.”

 

Sounds pretty accurate.
Anybody wanna go see some clowns juggle needles at the cemetery?