I would be of limited value in a post-apocalyptic scenario, since I've had a vasectomy. I'll probably be one of the guys sent out to scavenge and fight zombies while everyone else tries to repopulate the planet.
It's amazing what we forgive in a person as long as the script labels them as the hero. We just got done watching a fairly well-known movie in which the hero is a remorseless mass-murderer. He is responsible for robbing and killing thousands of innocent people, a fact he talks about in the same way people talk about mowing their lawn. He gains control of a gang of criminals after killing their leader and uses them to kidnap his ex-girlfriend on the night of her wedding. At the end of the movie he finds a kindred spirit just as blood-thirsty and amoral as him and offers to teach him the trade.
I am, of course, referring to The Princess Bride.
It follows for other well loved fictional heroes as well.
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
Inability to tolerate boredom
Aggressive or violent tendencies, repeated physical fights or assaults on others
Lack of empathy
Lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizes having hurt or mistreated others
A sense of extreme entitlement
Lack of or diminished levels of anxiety/nervousness and other emotions
Promiscuous sexual behavior, sexually deviant lifestyle
The above is a list of the characteristics of a psychopath. They also describe James Bond and every character that was poured into the same mold. I think I could safely define a modern Hollywood hero as: A person who most people would like to be, but would not like to sit next to on a bus.
Sooner or later, every non-fatal syndrome that a body can have makes it into my DNA. Neurological, dermatological, gastronomical; if it is mildly severe and mostly just annoying, I have it. I am to genetic disorders what Aquaman is to superpowers.
I can't eat gluten. It destroys my intestinal lining, which brings a lot of unpleasantness to what should be an enjoyable and refreshing activity.
It also causes tiny painful blisters to spring up all my hands and feet, and gives me intense migraines.
So, here's the thing about gluten, and I mean darn near its defining characteristic. Almost nobody knows what it is. Tell someone you're lactose intolerant, no problem. They know what that means: no milk, no cheese, not Satan. Tell someone you are gluten intolerant, and unless they are a chef, the response is something along the lines of, "Oh, right... so... what are you a vegetarian or something?"
Your next step is to explain that you can't eat wheat. You would think that this would be a sufficient explanation. Unless you have had any experience explaining things to people before. It particularly becomes an issue when they cater lunch at work and well meaning managers try to make sure that those with special dietary requirements are not forgotten. Allow me to give you a sampling of some of the things you hear when those without understanding try to be understanding.
"Instead of pizza we got you spaghetti with no meat in it." Some variation of this happens quite a bit. Some people believe that all food allergies and intolerances can be summed up as vegetarianism.
"We know you can't have wheat, so we got you white bread instead of wheat bread." One assumes that somewhere there is a farmer harvesting a vast field of white.
"So, why did you decide to stop eating wheat?" I have a moral objection to sitting on the toilet for an hour and then having to crawl out of the bathroom on all fours because my legs fell asleep.
Of course, people are becoming more aware of gluten intolerance. I've noticed grocery stores going out of their way to stock gluten free foods. Just the other day I was shopping and found quite a few products clearly labeled as gluten free. Chocolate. Honey. Strawberries. Peanut Butter. All are now gluten free. Of course, all of them have always been gluten free, on account of them not being made of wheat.
I like lists. One might have noticed that many of my blog entries are written in the form of lists. Lists are wonderful, because you can sift through the information without having to deal with personality. It has been said that my love of lists is a symptom of the fact that I am merely an automaton who's life goal is to understand emotion in order to truly become "human." In response to that I say:
Today I'm looking at lists of phobias. It's for a story I'm working on. As I go through the list I have to wonder about some of these. It would seem to me that there are cases where the exclusion of a particular phobia would be reason to doubt a person's sanity. Let me put it another way.
Here are some proper phobias:
Arachibutyrophobia- fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliaphobia- fear of long words. Nomophobia - fear of being out of mobile phone contact.
Irrational. Debilitating. If we are being simultaneously honest and callous: really kind of stupid. That is what we, as Americans raised to believe that our uneducated opinions are somehow valid, have come to expect from phobias. It gets a little iffier* when you have phobias like
Algophobia — fear of pain.
July 22, 1973 - Have tested subject by exposing to multiple stimuli including electrical current, angry bees, combination of sandpaper and lemon juice, etc. In all cases, response has been the same - "Please stop hurting me! what is wrong with you people!" We have concluded that the subject appears to be afraid of pain. Fascinating.
Agraphobia - fear of sexual abuse
I can only imagine this one was thought up by a newly graduated psychiatrist who spent most of his college career studying "brewski's" and calling other guys "bra."
Tomophobia - fear or anxiety of surgeries/surgical operations
Also known as fear of being sliced open by a complete stranger. It's an offshoot of another phobia that was very common in the middle ages, particularly among soldiers. For more information, see Braveheart.
Radiophobia - fear of radioactivity or X-rays.
Again, not so much a phobia as a survival skill. Presumably, Madame Curie was being totally rational when she soaked herself in radiation till it killed her.
One final note:
Phobophobia — fear of having a phobia.
Not sure if this one fits into either of the above categories. However, we have been told time and time again** that this one is actually admirable to have, so I think it's inclusion in a list of phobias is somewhat unfair.