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Paige: You're listening to Coffee with Gringos. I'm Paige Sutherland.

Mariah: And I'm Mariah Wika. Welcome back to the podcast. Today, we are talking about a really comfortable topic. We're talking about our fears, our phobias, and our superstitions... so good old human anxiety topic. But it's something that we all relate to, right?! Remember, as you're listening, if you get lost, the vocabulary guide and the transcript are on the website to help you out.

Paige: Okay, so to start off, we're gonna start with superstitions.

Mariah: What is a superstition?

Paige: We're gonna start with some common ones that we have from the US. They date back, I mean, probably decades.

Mariah: I think since the beginning of human time.

Paige: And a lot of them everyone knows... some people I guess believe in them more than others. So, some common ones are... if you break a mirror, you'll have bad luck for many years.

Mariah: If you see a black cat, that's not lucky, or that's unlucky.

Paige: If you walk under an open ladder, right?

Mariah: Exactly. If you open an umbrella inside of the house, that's technically a bad sign. I think that superstitions for some people, especially with topic like sports are very powerful.

Paige: Definitely.

Mariah: I know some people where if they're watching their favorite sports team play, and they're wearing a certain shirt, and then the team wins... they have to wear that same shirt for every game. They have to replicate the winning circumstances in order to feel like they're supporting the team.

Paige: Oh absolutely. And there are people that will, besides clothes, they have to watch it at this location, with this person, and we have to be drinking this beer and eating this food. You can get it down to every last detail.

Mariah: Right! And those are not habits. Those are superstitions, right? It's the idea that if you follow a routine or you do a certain habit, something kind of magical will happen, right? Or something unlucky, something lucky or something unlucky.

Paige: So for you in your life, Mariah, do you abide by any superstitions?

Mariah: I like to think that I'm a pretty rational, logical person. But there are some things that I follow. I love the number 33. And so whenever I see that number, I think it's a lucky sign or a symbol of something. I hate even numbers, and so for example the number 44 makes me very uncomfortable. I like the 11:11, make a wish superstition. And I think one more superstition that I have... you know how when you cross your fingers for good luck? I do this sub-consciously, I barely realize I'm doing it, but when I watch a sports team that I love, and it's getting really intense, and there are like 10 minutes left, I cross all of my fingers. They're all crossed! It's something I've done since I was young, and I have to do it. I have to do it. It makes me anxious if I don't do it. Do you have any superstitions?

Paige: I'm trying to think...

Mariah: Or are you perfectly rational?

Paige: I think the biggest one I have is I don't like to count my chickens before they're hatched. I have a superstition where if... say I'm trying to get a new job or a great opportunity or a sports team to win, I don't like to say it out loud.

Mariah: Don't be too confident. Don't be too cocky.

Paige: Exactly, I feel like... say, sports, if my favorite football team the Patriots are going to the Superbowl, I'm not going to say a few days before, "Oh, the Patriots are gonna win!" Because I feel like that's bad luck.

Mariah: Right. Or with a... I feel the same way if I have an interview and people around me start saying, "Oh, you've got this! You're gonna get the job!" Don't say that! You don't know that!

Paige: Yeah, it's like bad mojo. I feel like you have to kind of be like... it's not going to come true if you say it.

Mariah: I was always the person in school who would say: "I'm going to fail this test." Before I took the test. I didn't actually think I was going to fail it, but I didn't want to jinx it.

Paige: Exactly.

Mariah: So, I'm definitely the kind of person where if somebody does say something like that, so for example, "You're going to ACE this job interview." I'm like, "Oh, knock on wood!"

Paige: Knock on wood, that's another good thing. I like to do that too. It's a silly thing, but if something like that is said, I actually do physically knock on wood.

Mariah: The other day, I was in the car. I was in an Uber, and the Uber driver, I think he said something about, "Oh, the Chilean soccer team is definitely going to win against Mexico!" And I said, "Knock on wood!" And I knocked the door of the car. And he goes, "Ma'am, there's no wood here." It's just a habit!

Paige: Okay, so moving on... so that was kind of some superstitions. Now, let's go real heavy into the phobias.

Mariah: Yeah, let's move on to something even more anxiety producing.

Paige: So, phobias for people who don't know are when you're afraid of something so intensely that it affects your quality of life.

Mariah: Yeah, so I think phobias are different than fears, right? We can be afraid of things but still manage to live successfully with that fear. But a phobia... like you said Paige, that's debilitating. So, for example, people who are claustrophobic who have claustrophobia. They're so scared of small spaces that if they're in a small space, they can't breathe, they can't process, they can't really think. It's very, very anxiety producing.

Paige: The common one is germaphobia. Someone who has it pretty bad is afraid to leave the house, afraid to touch things, maybe wears gloves, washes their hands twenty times a day. They are really afraid of getting germs, diseases, sicknesses, everything.

Mariah: Arachnophobia, people who are very, very scared of spiders... because that's different than being disgusted by spiders. I mean, nobody loves spiders I don't think, but arachnophobia is intense. Heights. What's the phobia word for heights?

Paige: I don't know, but a lot of people definitely have that, where like if they're somewhere high, like you said, they can't breathe, maybe they have a panic attack.

Mariah: Do you have any phobias?

Paige: Uhhh, I don't think I have any phobias, but I have noticed with age that I've become a little more afraid of small spaces. Not to a sense that I think I have a phobia, but the other day I was in a public bathroom, and I couldn't get it to open.

Mariah: Oh no, oh no!

Paige: And I was in the stall, and at first I thought no problem, but then I REALLY couldn't get it to open, and I started to feel like anxious, and I was like, "Am I going to be stuck in this bathroom?!"

Mariah: Actually, that's one of my fears. I think you could call it a fear bridging on a phobia.

Paige: Not quite a phobia.

Mariah: I'm terrified of getting stuck in a bathroom on a plane, on a train, mostly in those spaces... on a bus. Something about being in a moving vehicle and trapped in a tiny space makes me feel horrible. But my mind goes to the most dramatic places when it happens, like, for example once I couldn't open the door in the bus bathroom, and I was like... this is it, I'm going to die here. This is where it ends for me. You know? Like of course! I think it's because of the shame. You don't want to have to bang on the inside of the bus bathroom door, and be like: "Somebody, please help! Somebody! I'm trapped in the bathroom!" And in Spanish... It would just be a nightmare.

Paige: It's funny how easily our minds jump to that conclusions.

Mariah: Right. I mean, that's what fears are.

Paige: Usually in these situations, it's probably 30 seconds that you're stuck, and when you finally open it, you just like didn't turn the handle left. You're really not that stuck! And then you leave and you're kind of embarrassed...okay, that was a little dramatic.

Mariah: But it feels like lifetime imprisonment. But let's talk about those normal fears! Because phobias are pretty extreme. Sounds like maybe I have one. But, general fears. Day to day. For example... you know those grates on the sidewalk. The metal grates where you can see through to below. I cannot walk on those things. I am so terrified that one of those grates is going to collapse, and I'm going to fall down into the depths of Santiago. I just can't do it.

Paige: So you will avoid those at all costs.

Mariah: I mean, if I have to walk on one, I'll do it. But, I would rather not. I definitely avoid it. Yeah. How about you?

Paige: One of my biggest fears is definitely snakes and spiders.

Mariah: Oh really?

Paige: Particularly snakes. There's something about the way they move that really really gets me because with an animal with legs, you can predict their movement, but a snake can go in crazy directions. They can go UP. I just don't like them.

Mariah: That is not one of the reasons I've ever heard for people being afraid of snakes.

Paige: Their movement?

Mariah: The fact that you just never know where it's gonna go!

Paige: I just feel like if a snake is in the corner, it's so quick too. He could bite me from five feet away.

Mariah: Right. It could happen.

Paige: And they're so smiley. And they have their tongue. Now that I'm talking about it, it's really getting into my head.

Mariah: It's dark. You're in a dark place. I'm a little afraid of birds. I've got a bird thing. I think they're beautiful, but they've got these beady eyes, and they look at you, and they have wings. I don't like that you can't predict where a bird is gonna fly. I mean, it can land on your face. It can shit on your head. Birds are unpredictable creatures. Now, it's better because you have to get used to living with pigeons in big cities. But, I prefer not.

Paige: What about sharks? What are your thoughts on sharks?

Mariah: I'm pretty relaxed about sharks.

Paige: Really? So if you went to the beach and went to the ocean, you wouldn't even think about it.

Mariah: Honestly, not that much. I think that if I were in a place that was known for its shark infested waters, it would certainly cross my mind. But, just swimming in the ocean on a regular day in a regular place, I wouldn't think about it too much. How about you?

Paige: I'm pretty afraid of sharks. Every time I'm in the ocean, I'm always consciously making sure there are more people further out than me. I'm like, hmm I won't go any deeper, I'll let the sharks get those kids! There's something about them because you're in the water, and you can't see. We're humans. We're not built for the water. So, if a shark came on the ground, I can run away, I can climb a tree... I have options. When you're in the water, here's this thing that's built for the water that can swim really fast, and I'm like flailing, you can't see it... there's something about it that's so vulnerable. If I got attacked by a bear, it's scary, but I feel like I have options. If a shark comes... eat me.

Mariah: Take me! I'm more scared of humans than sharks. People are way scarier. Honestly, I think most of my fears are related to humans and all of the terrible things that we do.

Paige: What about? Are you afraid of ghosts?

Mariah: Ummmm. Yeah. Actually, I don't think afraid is the right word. I think I'm very uncomfortable with the idea because I believe in ghosts and so I think that the idea of being in a haunted space makes me really uncomfortable, but I don't think that ghosts hurt people. Tell me your take on ghosts.

Paige: I'm 100% afraid of ghosts. I watch a lot of scary movies, and a lot of them nowadays are very supernatural, ghost possessions, all these things.

Mariah: Demons, paranormal.

Paige: And humans are scary, like you said. They're the ones that kill people and are violent, do all these terrible things. But, they're human. They're in some way predictable. But a ghost... if it's in my room trying to kill me, I can't really do much. That's what makes it so scary!

Mariah: But do you think that ghosts can kill you?

Paige: That's the thing, it's unknown. It makes it scarier.

Mariah: I think I see ghosts as spirits that haunt the earth, but I don't think that they can do violent things. But I do think that they can really scare the bejeezus out of you.

Paige: So I hope all of you are listening to this at night, in your bedroom alone.

Mariah: Because this has been a pretty scary episode of Coffee with Gringos... we like to keep things creepy over here. But we hope that now, if anybody asks you what you're afraid of you, you're ready to express yourself and explain! So, watch out for the sidewalk grates, be careful about ghosts, stay out of small spaces.

Paige: Knock on some wood.

Mariah: Thanks for listening, and we'll talk to you soon.


Fear (noun) - something that scares you or makes you afraid

Example: It’s normal for people to be afraid of the dark or spiders.

Phobia (noun) - a very, very intense fear that is difficult to manage

Example: Claustrophobia is a fear of very of small spaces. It can be very difficult for people with this phobia to go in elevators, closets, or other small spaces.

Superstition (noun) - a belief that something you do will lead to certain consequences or events

Example: One superstition is that if you break a mirror, you'll have bad luck for many years.

Replicate (verb) - repeat or reproduce exactly

Example: I know some people where if they're watching their favorite sports team play, and they're wearing a certain shirt, and then the team wins... they have to wear that same shirt for every game. They have to replicate the winning circumstances.

Abide by (phrasal verb) - to accept and follow

Example: I like to think that I'm a pretty rational, logical person. But there are some superstitions that I abide by.

Even numbers (noun) - numbers divisible by two

Example: I hate even numbers! When I see the number 44, I think it’s a bad sign.

Cross my fingers (idiom) - when people cross their fingers over each other for good luck

Example: I have an interview today. Fingers crossed it goes well!

Count chickens before they're hatched (idiom) - to say something is going to happen before it happens

Example: Don’t say the basketball team is going to win! We can’t count our chickens before they’ve hatched.

Cocky (adjective, slang) - overconfident

Example: Some people say they’ll pass a test before they take it, and I think that’s too cocky and bad luck!

Bad mojo (slang) - bad luck

Example: I think it’s bad mojo to say that something will happen before it really does.
Knock on wood (idiom) - if somebody says that something’s going to happen, you knock on wood to prevent a confident statement from bringing bad luck

Example: When he told me the Chilean national team would win the soccer game, I said: “Oh, knock on wood!!”

Shame (noun) - a painful feeling of humiliation and distress

Example: I’m so scared of getting trapped in a bathroom because I think I’d feel a lot of shame!

Terrified (adjective) - extremely scared

Example: I'm terrified of getting stuck in a bathroom on a plane or a train.

Grate (noun) - a medal cover on the road or sidewalk

Example: I’m scared of sidewalk grates because I irrationally think I’ll fall through.

Ghost (noun) - a phantom, the spirit of a dead person

Example: I definitely believe in ghosts, and I’m especially scared of them when I go in old houses.

Haunted (adjective) - a place that has ghosts

Example: I believe in ghosts, so I think that the idea of being in a haunted space makes me really uncomfortable