Superstitions vs. Irrational Fears

I come from a fairly superstitious family. No hats on the bed, don't walk over anyone who's laying down, always keep olive oil and bread in the house, cats (ok, well, that's just me, personally). They're passed down through the generations, sometimes getting watered down, mixed up or just plain abandoned. But in their essence they're all based on some type of event or occurrence in history - plagues, disease, general fear of the unknown. Superstitions are generally accepted in society and are, well, kind of fun - giving insight into our family history and the culture we came from. But what happens when these superstitions explode? Case in point - we have a good friend. She follows some "normal" superstitions in daily life, but somewhere, somehow, her superstitions and fears have taken on a life of their own. Funny to us, but not necessarily to her. Every time we meet up, there seems to be new fear, each one more and more irrational than the last. They're mostly funny because, unlike superstitions, they're not part of anyone's daily life and while we wouldn't spend more than a few seconds in our lifetime thinking about them, these are the things that keep her up at night.

Gnomes (we show her our Gnome book): "I can't even look at that. (turns head). Seriously. Just...can you put it away? Why do you guys have that?"

"Aren't you guys afraid of Mermaids? Oh my god. I think that if I ever saw one, I would just lay down and die"

"You guys still eat lettuce?"

"I always sleep with all the lights on, you know, because if there was like an intruder ghost, you would need every second you could get"

The best part is that she doesn't really know why she's afraid of these things and so it's really easy (albeit, maybe not fair) to instill new irrational fears in her. For instance, upon telling her that my ancestry is Gnomish (to which Janet chimes in - that's why Stu's kind of short, but really strong)...she got really quiet and got this look like she didn't really want to hang out with us anymore. The best part of it all is that she's a really good sport about the teasing and takes it all in stride. The bad part is that some of her fears do tend to rub off on you and as hard as you try, you still can't stop but think ....maybe she knows something we don't.