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My man, Matt:

Is there a phobia named for fear of going to the bathroom in public?

-- Mr. Zip-it, the net

Jeez, not even the French pee in public anymore, Zip. Pissoir phobia's what you might have called it back in those days. But rather than guess, let's check the official source for phobias-- a web site that actually sets rational standards for including a word and seeks out legitimate print references to confirm them. No "dweebophobia" or "copcarintherearviewmirrorphobia" or that stuff. Apparently phobialist.com hasn't encountered anybody else afraid to pee in public, so we'll have to improvise a little. If we combine their "fear of public places" with "fear of urinating," we come up with agoraurophobia for anyone who develops flop sweat at the urinal. Greek apparently is the lingua franca of those riddled with irrational hysteria. It's worth checking out the site if only to find out that there is a documented fear of flutes (aulophobia) and that fear of the color purple is porphyrophobia. Funny. I thought it was Oprahphobia.

Oh, Crap! II: Attack of the Smartypants

This week I have a definite fear of opening emails marked "Matt, You Blockhead!," full of exclamation points and emoticons with asterisk eyes. Well, wanna hear me snivel and make anemic excuses so you can snort with derision and flip the page to the cell phone ads? Hah!

Not all phobias end in "-phobia," I'm reminded by Earl Kline. And Mungo St. James is shocked, positively shocked at my moth-eaten reply! The most learned response comes from SDSU psychology professor Louis R. Franzini. "The official diagnostic label for the fear of urinating in public is parauresis," (more commonly called paruresis or shy bladder syndrome). "It's considered a type of social phobia. The best treatment is desensitization and behavior therapy." Franzini co-authored the book Eccentric and Bizarre Behavior, so we've added him to Team Matthew Alice to help Grandma sort the mail into "Weird" and "Dangerously Weird," our two biggest categories.

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