Last night in the midst of what amounted to more than the usual mayhem, my husband, the always relaxed Fang, looked me straight in the eye and said, “You really need to stop worrying about everyone and everything.” He then proceeded to roll over and sleep soundly.
In what I consider a testament to my evolution as a human being, my first reaction to this blithe and breezy, but in no way feasible piece of unsolicited advice, was not how easy it would be to smother him with one of the many pillows that litter our bed, thereby giving me far less to worry about now or ever again. Sure, prison would bring it’s own set of anxieties, but at least I’d get three hots and a cot. Plus, I’d be relieved forever more of being expected to handle all the bullshit that litters the terrain that I call my life.
For example, if my darling daughter, the budget-challenged Fangette, needed me to pull $13,000 for college or $50 for the amusement park out of my ass, I’d be off the hook. “Sorry, dear, Mommy’s in prison. Our currency is cigarettes and matchsticks here in the pen.”
It wasn’t lost on me that when the thought of the ease with which he could be asphyxiated skittered around the outskirts of my roiling brain, it hit me that he gets more worked up over the number of pillows that I keep on the bed than he does about what most people would consider important things. Perhaps it’s because he sees these pillows for what they could, one day, become — weapons of his destruction.
Perhaps he’s more like me than he cares to admit, which accounts for why he is troubled by the pillows. It’s possible that he, too, knows that no one is really ever safe anywhere — even in their own beds.
In my defense and to his credit, let me just say that my husband is, as he should be, secure in the knowledge that he isn’t sleeping aside of a homicidal maniac. He and I both know that I only fantasize about going on killing sprees. (And, really, would one murder be considered a “spree”? I think not.) Truthfully, if I were ever to truly snap and resort to violence of a physical nature, he knows that most days his name wouldn’t be on the top of the list of people who, in my estimation, might just deserve a good, old-fashioned smothering. A bitch-slapping maybe, but a full-on smothering? Probably not.
In the past week I have been confronted with some worrisome stuff. Topping the list is the sudden illness of a parent and an unexpected $2,000 deficit in our Project Graduation budget. In light of having real, actual things to worry about, the mouse in the kitchen and the usual work-related bullshit tumbled a little further down list. As things of this nature are wont to do, though, they still made it to the hit parade. And, really, either of them could rise, with a bullet, at any given time depending upon whether or not the conditions are conducive to their doing so.
Like, for example, if the mouse manages to skitter across my bare foot on his way to snacking on the cat’s food. I’ve moved the cat’s food to higher ground, but I’ve got a fairly resourceful mouse on my hands here, folks.
I am also of the opinion that this creature has been put on this earth simply to test me. I’m Wiley Coyote to his Roadrunner. I’m Elmer Fudd to his Bugs Bunny. He is the fly in my ointment.
Really. I’ve cleaned. I’ve strategically and fastidiously sealed up holes with steel wool. I’ve installed humane traps. I’ve got a cat. I don’t know what more, outside of beating it over the head with a broom, I’m supposed to do to rid my kitchen of Harvey.
Yes. I’ve given him a name. And that name is Harvey. Why Harvey, you ask? Because, just like Elwood P. Dowd in the Mary Chase play of the same name, I’m the only one who has, outside of the cat, seen the stupid thing. During these sightings, rare though they may be, the cat and I have had the same reaction — we both run like hell in the other direction. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is not a very effective method of rodent removal.
At least the cat has an excuse. He’s just an idiotic cat with zero hunting instincts. I, however, like to think of myself as a sentient being. As such, I would like to be dealing with this problem in a more rational manner. And, it’s pissing me off that I’m not. Worse, I know that in the scheme of things and in light of everything else that’s going on, the foolish mouse shouldn’t even be on my worry radar. But, he is.
The teenage daughter? She’s always on the radar. It isn’t that she’s doing anything to deliberately make me crazy, she’s just up to the usual bullshit that teenagers get up to. She’s just living her life. Still, it would be nice if she would sit quietly in her room and needlepoint a sampler, where I know she’s safe, rather than gad about with her friends for weekends of underage drinking and general debauchery or spend her time running up and down the New Jersey Turnpike — where there are far too many trucks that could overturn at any time!
Why was she as recently as yesterday careening down this famously unsafe highway? To visit an amusement park. AN AMUSEMENT PARK! Any place that has rides — amusement parks, piers, carnivals, even the local park — tend to make me jittery. I don’t even like being near them. One of those giant steel cars tethered in octopus-like fashion to a creaky arm designed to whip passengers at high speeds out over the crowds below them could, at any time, snap off killing not just the individual who willingly strapped herself into the monstrosity, but also the folks standing in line for a frozen custard a couple of yards away.
Fangette did not skip school to enjoy a custard or even, as much as she loves them, a delicious funnel cake. No. She was there specifically to experience the thrill of dangling hundreds of feet in the air while she trusted gravity to throw her upside down all the while dizzyingly hurtling her small, but still intact, body along what, relatively speaking, appear to be microscopically thin metal tracks. This, my friends, is her idea of a good time.
So that you aren’t left with the wrong impression of the normally angelic Fangette, let me just say that she doesn’t make a habit of riding giant roller coasters or spending wild weekends in the woods — woods that we all know could be harboring any number of axe murderers or that have been known to spontaneously combust without warning. Her woodsy adventures have been, as far as I know, anyway, limited to just that one time. It just so happened that, as luck would have it, her timing could not have been worse. Her crazy weekend just had to coincide with the weekend that my mother was rushed to the hospital for what turned out to be a fairly serious surgical procedure. Of course it did.
My coworkers are probably delighted that I have so many other things to occupy my mind at the moment. Because it means that I could almost care less about their nonsense and foolishness. I have to work with a drug addict today? Okay. So be it. I don’t care. On second thought, maybe she’s got something good. Maybe if I ask nicely she’ll be inclined to share?
I do need to take my husband’s advice. I really do. I just do not know how. I suppose I should start by dropping my coworker from my list of “people and things I worried about today”. I could also spend less time concerning myself with Harvey. Taking these steps would make for a fine start on my road to become a reformed worrier.
I don’t know how I’ll approach not worrying about my mother and, by extension, my father, though. I don’t think there’s an “off” button for that one.
I’m fairly certain that I will always worry about my daughter. Perhaps, though, I can try to worry about the big stuff more and the little stuff less? After all, millions of people travel the NJ Turnpike every year, ditto for visiting amusement parks, and weekending in the woods. Most of them do so without every encountering an overturned tractor-trailer, being thrown from a roller coaster, or being involved in methane gas-induced swamp explosions.
The rational part of my brain knows all of this. Still, my mind always seems to wander into “worst case scenario” territory. Is there, I wonder, an “off” button for that?