Today’s idiom of the day is “scared shitless”. Did you know that it’s totally a thing? On some level, of course, I did. But like many other idioms, I use it more for effect than for actual meaning. Because, let’s be honest, almost everyone that is reading this can probably count on one hand the number of people who have crapped their pants in terror. Unless you’re military and have seen action, I guess…
But it actually happens. In times of extreme terror, the body of many animals (including humans) involuntarily voids its bowels. And there’s science behind it! It came as a surprise to me that something that we normally consider a completely voluntary reflex can suddenly become involuntary. I couldn’t find any reference to chemicals that get released that cause it to become involuntary, but I assume it has something to do with the blast of adrenalin the body releases in times of stress.
On top of that, though, there is a very good reason for the body to do so. Think about it. If something is that scary, your fight or flight reflex is probably in full flight mode. Your body signals that it’s all hands on deck for full speed ahead. (Wow, is that sentence nautically historically challenged.) Hey, what are you red blood cells doing helping with the digestion of food? Drop what you’re doing and get up here, we need to move! And so the body quite literally drops what it’s doing.
Hopefully, that extra boost will be just what you need to get away from the big, ugly, dangerous predator that is bearing down quickly on you. Probably not, though, since you’re a human who finds it inconvenient that you have to walk all the way over to the refrigerator to get food.
And since we’re already getting all scatological, did you know that pissing yourself in fear is worse? It means that you have lost complete control of your body and your ability to think and you will probably just curl up in a fetal position and suck your thumb waiting for death.
This is important information to know the next time you and your friends find yourself facing a grizzly bear. It’s not the one who runs slowest who loses, it’s the one who pisses himself. Or, if you’re part of a fire team that just got ambushed by a group of armed insurgents, the guy who pissed himself is the one you have to protect until he can function again. Because that’s what you do.