There are three small boys in my neighborhood who give me a terrible fright by climbing ten foot high walls and pranking about up there. My morbid fear of heights is so bad that I am unable to stand on a kitchen stool to retrieve something from a high shelf without turning to jelly.
Lat year, at the home of the parents of these boys and emboldened by several glasses of Merlot, it occurred to me that I should confront my phobia: I just had to climb that wall and it would be conquered forever. With my hostess’s help, I mounted the wall at its lowest point and began to inch my way forward. I was immediately scared and sat down, straddling the wall and making little horse-riding movements forward. After a few meters I reached the highest section of the wall, with still at least four meters to go before I was at a point where I could dismount via a tree. I was now hysterically afraid and went into a stage of near paralysis. Going backward was impossible; I was glued to the spot.
It was at this juncture that my host and his other guests caught sight of me; a forty five year-old woman in a frilly frock, silhouetted on the Johannesburg skyline, frozen astride a wall.
My kind hostess found a ladder, but I was too scared to use it. Two burly chaps were called to assist and I was finally returned to earth, an undignified shaking wreck.
I really hoped no one took a photo …