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Friday, January 31, 2014

Venustraphobia, A Case Study

Of all social disorders that plague us, venustraphobia --the fear of beautiful women-- is certainly one of the most enigmatic. It is also called, in medical circles, caligynephobia, by those who are afraid to say venustraphobia. Those who suffer an inability to distinguish the first phobia from the other are, in scientific terms, referred to as bumfuzzled. In an effort to clarify the matter, I recently decided to spend 44 years scrutinizing a single sufferer. Here he is at a social function in the company of a beautiful woman in the year 1970:

To the casual observer, there is little to be learned from this photo. One might dismiss our subject's ulotrichous hair explosion to the fashion of the time, but in truth, just before this photo was taken he was entirely bald. Let us compare this physical response to those manifested at another social function a mere 19 years later:
Here we see the subject's outfit spontaneously transmogrify into a white dinner jacket --a compensatory psychosomatic reaction to the same beautiful woman suddenly being in color instead of black and white. He is giving her a strange sidelong glance, which indicates panicky subconscious inquiry: Why can he suddenly not perform simple tasks, like dining or straightening his eyes out? Why has reality suddenly assumed an aspect of anxious hallucination?  Perhaps skipping 23 years ahead to a more recent social function will offer some clue:
Or perhaps not. The jacket has evaporated and our subject has consolidated his symptoms into simply teetering out of his chair. The same woman impels him into a state of clinical gaga --a reaction to true beauty that includes vertigo, attempts to hide behind centerpiece floral arrangements of inadequate volume and a determination to participate in these studies forever.

As for myself, as researcher-in-residence, my duties have narrowed into a routine of giving my subject showers and brushing his teeth. I am always alert for new clues to solving the enigma of venustraphobia but, as yet --after 44 and hopefully many more years-- I confess myself bumfuzzled. 



38 comments:

  1. You've been with Norma for more than forty years. How perfectly wonderful.

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  2. I can always count on your turns of phrase to induce a near-wheeze of laughter. You even resisted the most obvious joke (of naming the condition of venustraphobiaphobia) in favor of more subtil ones. And I love that 2012 photo. :-)

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    1. Thanks Cygnus! I too am fond of that photo --taken in Sonoma at Willie's 75th birthday party.

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  3. What a delightful post. She is indeed beautiful.

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    1. Most kind...and most accurate. Thank you Jen and WELCOME!

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  4. Nice: your post made me think of the great poet, Theodore Roethke. "I knew a woman, lovely in her bones ..." - http://gawow.com/roethke/poems/122.html

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    1. Indeed, I now measure time "by how her body sways."

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  5. A lovely post; a beautiful woman; a nice guy; and a uniquely delightful way of expressing your love. Thank you for a truly delightful read.

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  6. I've been bumfuzzled most of my life, but didn't know the exact term to describe it until now.
    You always have the uncanny ability to make me laugh and learn at the same time. I'm still absorbing "ulorichous" and "transmorgify" but woudn't dare attempt to use them in a social conversation. Or an unsocial one, for that matter.

    No need for venustraphobia. I have no doubt that Norma is as sweet as she looks. Great photos!

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    1. Thanks Jon. Norma keeps me in line, mainly.

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  7. We are approaching 40 years this spring and I am totally 'bumfuzzled' as to how this could have happened. She is a very lovely lady and you look appropriately stunned. May you have many more confusing years together.

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    1. Congratulations Delores! 40 years is getting serious.

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  8. You certainly married a beautiful woman, Geo. You are pretty cute yourself and make an attractive couple.

    Remembering the seventies very well, I have one question to ask you. Was it natural or a Toni?

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    1. My hair naturally curled up if I let it grow. No perm. I keep it shorter and somewhat further back now.

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  9. What a truly beautiful story of everlasting love. 44 years and still suffering from venustraphobia :)

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    1. I have made some progress with the affliction and will make even more, given time.

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  10. After reading this delightful piece I ended up bumfuzzled but happy that I was around those occasions--or ones before and after--with you folks. You cleared something up for me here; I had always thought the condition was only my own!

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    1. There must be hope for a world teeming with the bumfuzzled. Could we get up an encounter group, or is that where we met in the 1st place? Can't remember.

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  11. This is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read. What lucky people you both are.

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    1. That much is certain --I'm glad there is some luck in the world.

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  12. You are blessed to have such a beautiful woman by your side.

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    1. Thanks Susan! Looks aside, I married her because she's a good gardener and doesn't mind getting dirty.

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  13. Funny and wonderful post about young love! :) Norma is stunningly beautiful, and she takes good photographs, too... :)
    I hope Dwayne and I will be like you and Norma, when we are together 40 years.

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    1. Beautiful Michelle, I recognize that familiar strength in you and fervently hope your future is a happy one. I do recommend you install a chalkboard so your garden --even if it is only a small one or a single plant-- can communicate to everyone in French. Works good!

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  14. Delightful snapshot into a long marriage. I especially sympathize having been a lifelong sufferer of exactly the same malady.

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    1. Ah, decidedly we suffer but it makes us stronger!

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  15. Very clever. I like how you write, too :)

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    1. Kind Carol, I write because I can't run barefoot --unable to give up both. You know.

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  16. Dear Geo.,
    oh what a hilarious post! Of course one will suffer venustraphobia - men and women - when meeting such a beautiful woman as the one at the side of your 'single sufferer'. But she also has a wonderous side benefit: she takes away fear of getting a bit older - though I won't believe in your slipshod calculation of the years (can't be from 1970 - 2012; seems you have to adjust the date thing on your camera, Sir) -- But then: what is time? You both look great!

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  17. PS: I looked up "bumfuzzle" because I didn't believe it existed - but it does - thank you for serving another beautiful word of your language. Totally dumfounded Britta

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    1. But yes, the 1st and 3rd photos were taken 42 years apart. And there is bumfuzzlement among us!

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  18. Oh wow Geo, I love old photos, what a beautiful couple you are, with fabulous 70s hair! Completely understandable for you to have venustraphobia :D

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    1. Kind Lizzy! I have fought my hair all my life and am glad it was in style for a little while.

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  19. What a well written and charming story!:) After 54 years of bumfuzzlement myself, I totally understand. May you and your beautiful wife have many more years together.
    Regards.

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  20. It is really great reading about you and your wife, Geo. All thanks to Cro who led me here :-)

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