I was in Bangkok with Emilie (my friend and old university roommate who came to visit me) and Jillian for Songkran this year, and once I steal some pictures from my friends I will write a post about all the good-natured water fighting but for now I want to focus on my nightmare come to life. I don’t know why such tiny creatures seem to terrify me so much, but they do.
Growing up, and even now, I have a select few irrational fears. I won’t divulge all of them in case an enemy may be reading, but I will admit to this one, and only because I somewhat conquered it. Ever since I was little I have had a weird fear of fish. Fish in lakes, to be particular. Ocean fish are totally fine, but murky lake water and it’s inhabitants freak me out. I don’t know if it’s the fish themselves or really just a general disgustedness of not being able to see below me and not knowing what’s around me. I’ve had this fear that a fish is going to swim at me or bite me or something worse (literally anything you can imagine it doesn’t even have to be a real thing) is going to float up from the depths and drag me back down with it.
Fish in tanks are fine, fishing is fine, seeing fish while fishing is fine, seeing all the fish feeding on whatever you throw in the water as you stand on the dock is not fine….and you couldn’t pay me enough money to jump in even though my mind knows they will -probably- all swim away and not attack me. Again, oceans are fine, I’m not afraid of sharks (which could actually inflict some real damage) or any other dangerous sea creatures; lakes and their black waters…eh. Not my cup of tea. This is strange since I grew up in a land locked state with a nearby lake which most people enjoyed. To be perfectly honest this fear hampered my ability to learn how to water ski as a child. I was so afraid of something biting me that after two failed attempts to pull my body out of the water I called it quits and gave up, waiting anxiously for the boat to come around and pull me out of the watery death trap. I don’t exactly know what my fear is rooted in, but I call it a fish fear even though it isn’t always exactly the fish themselves.
Anyway, I wanted to provide you with some background so you could further understand why the following act was such a feat for me. While in Bangkok Jillian, Emilie and I decided to do the fish spa pedicure. You know what that is? It’s a tank, full of little cannibal monsters, that want to eat your skin. It was on Jillian’s bucket list and, to be honest, mine too (labeled as “overcome your fish fear.” Close enough).
This picture is very misleading…none of us were enjoying this experience
We found a suitable looking nail salon with a tank of doom just outside its doors and agreed to shell out 100 baht for 15 minutes of pure torture. The three of us washed our feet, sat on the benches…and took at least 3 minutes to actually work up the nerve to take the plunge. Yes, it was just deep enough for our feet and half of our shins, but that was definitely more than enough. Jillian gave up and just sat there with her feet up, Emilie tried but kept squealing and kicking her legs whenever they came near her, and I actually managed to do it. I did not enjoy a single second of it but damn it I was not about to let 100 baht go to waste (for the record, that’s about $3USD….I am incredibly stingy when I want to be). I twitched a lot at first, pulled my feet out a bit, but after 5 minutes I steeled myself for the assault of countless evil little gilled zombies having a feeding frenzy on my flesh. I sat there, grimacing, quivering, every muscle tensed up. I wanted to cry, and I did allow myself some pathetic little whiney sounds, but I stayed strong!
This is me trying to smile. Like, legitimately trying to smile. I just can’t.
I looked at the advertisement and couldn’t help but hate the smiling people in the picture with their feet surrounded by these fish. It had to be photo shopped there is no way anyone could possibly enjoy this experience. I had to start taking deep breaths and made Jillian quote some of our favorite lines from “Fresh Off the Boat” whenever I started focusing too much on the feeling of my flesh getting ripped off. My worst fear was happening. For reals.
Jillian was so impressed with the whole thing (or she just felt that bad for me) she ended up paying for my torture session! I was very grateful, and pretty glad she didn’t tell me this until the end because I probably would have bailed early if I had known. As it was, I did it!! I lived the worst 15 minutes of my life and made it through.
Suck on that, fishes.