Fear was invented in 1849, by Enrico Fermi. (Fermi being French for â€œFear Meâ€, which is odd, because Enrico was Italian). Enrico, or â€œBig Eâ€, as he liked to be called during his basketball days, needed a way to be warned when something dangerous was about to happen. He collaborated with his brother, Enronco, on many ideas. (Seems Enronco was always doing things that needed a warning too.) Before long, though, Enrico decided that his brother was deceitful, and his ways unethical, so he decided to go it alone.
Enricoâ€™s first idea was â€œSpider Senseâ€, but he had heard that an American, of Italian descent, Enpeter Parkero was already patenting this same concept, besides Enrico didnâ€™t like being bitten by spiders, and radioactivity was years away from being invented.
â€œBig Eâ€ had a second idea: Extra Sensory Perception. He figured, since athletes were always getting injured, that if he could find a way to get them to run out of bounds before they got hit, it would be a good thing. Getting tackled by enormous defensive ends was painful. In addition, he considered the possibility that he could calculate the chances of which team would do it most often. The â€œOddsâ€, as he called it. Enrico knew many Italians at a company called ENMAFIACO who were very good at this. Soon he found that the home team had a tremendous advantage, and the odds sometimes got skewed, so he rejected this idea of using ESP as a predictor of bad things. Too often it was inaccurate. He did, however, establish a cable TV network to use this concept. We know it today as ESPN.
â€œBig Eâ€ took the money from that, and decided to try and help his brother, who was currently under indictment by the SEC (Society of Executive Crimestopping) for several of his misdeeds. It was then that Enricoâ€™s idea started to take shape.
â€œI cannot decide if I want to stay and contest these charges, or just run away. This makes my heart beat faster, and my palms sweat. The thought of going to prison is very disturbing to me,â€ complained Enronco.
Enrico pondered this. Fight or flight? A conundrum indeed!
Enronco added, â€œI also drop the soap in the shower a lot, and I donâ€™t like the idea of large naked men seeing me do this!â€
A light bulb came on over Enricoâ€™s head. (An SEC guy had just entered the room and flipped on the switch.)
â€œWhy are you guys sitting in a dark room?â€ he queried.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ was their reply in unison.
â€œI have an idea though!â€ added Enrico. The SEC guy, not wishing to hear it, left the room.
That night passed with Enrico performing complex calculations, poring over medical journals, and drinking gallons of coffee. His composition for English 1301 was due the next day, and he had spent too much time working on his brotherâ€™s problem.
The day after that, though, Enrico returned to work on Enroncoâ€™s dilemma.
â€œWhat if I could find a way to make peoplesâ€™ palms sweat, and heart race, BEFORE something that would hurt them happened?â€ he asked out loud. â€œPerhaps they could avoid the situationâ€, he thought silently, since no one was around to hear him anyway. Again he worked through the night, realizing that he had drunk WAY too much coffee the night before.
Shortly, Enrico made a discovery. A chemical that would cause just the sensation he needed: FINOXY ETHYL ADRENAL RESINSâ€¦FEAR for short.
â€œEâ€ tried selling his invention to the major drug companies. They were not interested. The CEO of ENPFIZER told him, â€œWe are in the business of overcharging people AFTER they get injured.â€ The other companies gave similar statements. Enrico had hit a brick wall.
â€œEâ€ was despondent. As a last resort, he decided to take the concoction himself and set off in search of a glass of water.
â€œI should have made this chewable,â€ he thought. Soon his quest ended though, and he downed the pill.
Suddenly, as luck would have it, gunmen broke in. Amazing things started to happen; Enricoâ€™s knees began to tremble, his heart pounded, and his palms were soaked with sweat!
â€œEureka!â€ he shouted, â€œIt works! The only side effect that I can see is it makes me say words like Eureka...I can live with that!â€
There were other side effects though, Enrico could not think clearly. He was unable to decide if he wanted to stay, or run.
â€œFight or flight, huh? I thought that would come in handy.â€
His vision got a little blurry as well. He considered cutting back on the finoxy and adding more adrenaline.
â€œWhere is your brother?â€ shouted a gunman.
â€œNot sure,â€ replied Big E, amazed that several paragraphs had gone by since they broke in.
So the gunmen left. Enricoâ€™s sensations soon subsided, as he realized he was no longer in danger. Fear faded away.
â€œStupid gunmen,â€ he thought, and went to Enronco in the next room.
There was one more side effect that Enrico wouldnâ€™t discover until later though. Fear was very contagious once it entered the human body. It soon started cropping up everywhere. In a matter of days it had spread throughout Italy, even the Pope was not immune, though he only feared God. In a few weeks, fear had blanketed Europe. People everywhere were afraid of everything.
â€œWhat have I done?â€ sobbed Enrico, â€œI must find a way to fix this!â€
There were too many permutations of fear though. He decided that calling the goofy ones â€œPhobiasâ€ would be a good way to separate them from the more important ones. (Phobia itself was a mutation of the name of a goofy character from the TV show, â€œEnfriendsâ€.) Soon persons afraid of sheep became: â€œAngoraphobicsâ€. Donâ€™t like spiders? (Which you may remember Enrico didnâ€™t), you are a Stanleeaphobicâ€. Canâ€™t stand â€œEnfriendsâ€? â€œPhoebeaphobicâ€, and so on.
Education is the answer to all of this, Enrico believed. I can teach people more about the things that they are afraid of, and it will lessen their fear. So he set about doing this across Italy. Firemen, who were once afraid to go anywhere near a burning building, learned that with proper clothing, and water, that they could actually put out a fire. Others learned that people from another country were not always dangerous. Vigilantism sunk to new lows. Those guys that donâ€™t like spiders? Heck, just step on them! (Except the really big ones named Enpeter).
Enrico died a poor man in 1896. There had been no money in spreading fear to everyone. He spent all of his ESPN money on educating people with fear. He died a happy man though; fear had become a useful tool. He also got an A+ on his English paper.
WORLD - CULTURE
Copyright © 2010 Geddy
The Origin of Fear
Copyright © 2010 Geddy
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