So we observed those basic moments we always skip observing under that panic attack, but here you are:
1. The dentist
He’ll hit a nerve, yes he will. Your body is aflame with anticipation of the total surrendering of all power, the prospect of terrible pain and a vast bill. Every instinct is to run and never, ever return. Perhaps get on a plane and go into hiding and assume a new identity so that the dentist can never find you. But you don’t. You just go limp and a bit teary and he doesn’t hit a nerve. Probably not.
The unchanging departures board is fine as long as you never rip your eyeballs from it, lest it display ‘cancelled’ or ‘boarding’. You must be the first to know or you might die. The shrieking of the take-off is fine; that howling, screaming sound means that everything is OK. The rumbling and crashing of the wheels is fine. The jolting turbulence is fine. The storm is also absolutely fine. It is only when the engine is turned off at the end of the flight that you realise you have been clenching for hours.
You will probably not be murdered. You will probably get home in a timely fashion and also alive. You sit bolt upright and track the route while sending texts to people with the registration number and driver description. Not that those will help you once you… good lord… is that a box of latex gloves on the passenger seat? Oh, actually, it’s tissues. Could you have one please? You seem to have developed nervous sniffles.
4. No lock on the loo door
Pee, pee, pee, pee, pee faster. God forbid you should be wearing a jumpsuit because then you’re fully naked and can you just balance one heel against the door without… oh. Turns out that, no. You can’t. Oops. But the moment when you’re done and washing your hands and it no longer matters if someone barges in, is really rather floaty.
5. Arriving somewhere you know your Ex will be
You’re over them. No one has ever been more over anyone. But how will you be and how do you look and do you look old and how will they be and should you be nice or should you be glacial and this is appalling but what if they’re not there? After all this? What then?
6. Holding a baby
It’s going to see into my soul, isn’t it? It’s going to see the rot and the horror – the savage on the inside – and then it will cry and cry and cry and it will hate me and everyone will know. And what if this tiny ball is not wearing his diaper? Holy shit! I can't even imagine.
7. Answering the phone
Who rings nowadays? It must be death calling…
8. Meeting a completely unknown person
Of course, for some it doesn't matter with whom they are meeting, they are such practised. But for me, it still accelerates my beat. Especially those thoughts hit you hard, which sometimes make you believe aliens do exist! And the moment they arrive, you skip a beat thinking what's going to be your first word? "Hi? Hey? No it should be Hello!"