Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm worried that I'm worrying about worrying

Worry, anguish, uneasiness, torment, fret, anxiety. Pick your poison, but no matter which term you choose, they all express feelings we share, some of us constantly.

I'm a worrier— always have been. My earliest distressing episode occurred at age four. Upon learning that I would be a ring bearer in my cousin's wedding, I grew quite concerned about wearing a bear costume. "What kind of ears am I going to have?" I wondered out loud. Everyone in the room laughed heartily, which layered an element of confusion on top of my apprehension. I was quickly told that no costume was necessary, but I still wasn't informed as to why I would be branded a bear at someone's wedding.

The list of worries accumulated as I grew into adolescence. What if I got drafted and sent to Vietnam? What if my mom and dad drop my sister and me off at my grandparents and leave us there forever and I'm doomed to a life of country music and Sears Toughskins? What if I forget how to swallow? What if my chubby, dimpled knuckles are forever inverted and never rise up to become regular knuckles?

Our worries evolve as we become adults and parents. That doesn't mean they're legitimate, just different. For example:

Oh, no. I wore brown shoes with a black watch. I'll be ostracized and exiled by my peers permanently.

I hope the Mercedes dealer remembered that I can't read Celsius, so my heated floor mats better have a Fahrenheit gauge.

My $350 authentic Roman Gabriel throwback football jersey was supposed to arrive yesterday. It's not here yet. This has to be the worst thing that's ever happened to me, so I'll stay home from work and call FedEx every 45 minutes.

I can now boast of some legitimate concerns, not those bred out of the irrational, obsessive compulsiveness of my childhood, but actual food for fret. For instance:

She said her friend's mom was bringing her home at 10:30. It's now 11:00, and she isn't answering her phone.

Her fever's been 102 degrees for three days now.

That cute mole on my neck that used to resemble a speck of milk chocolate now looks more like a double scoop of triple fudge chunk—with a beard.

The waitress says she recommends the pork chop—rare.

When I ask her new boyfriend where he got his "Proud to be Level Three" neck tattoo, he said his cellmate gave it to him in exchange for four-and-a-half packs of Camels and a thirty-second French kiss.

Those are just a few of them, because as a parent, you can really freak yourself out with "what ifs." I think that's why, while waiting up for my teenager to come home, I don't tune into the Teen Serial Killer Network. I think it's Channel 387.

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