Monday, October 12, 2009
Scary and Not-So-Scary Thoughts
In keeping with the Halloween theme, I have been pondering what is scary for me and what is just (yawn!) mundane for me now and I've discovered that a lot of the things that gave me the creeps before don't anymore. Monsters, ghouls, mummies, ghosts, aliens, vampires and the typical frights of my childhood are so cheesy as compared to what puts my mind in a dither these days.
I know that you outgrow a lot of fears as you get older (fear of the dark, fear of strangers, fear of being called last in kick-ball, etc.) because as you become an adult and start your own familiy you worry less about monsters and more about paying bills and protecting your family. That's not to say the monsters aren't necessarily there, hiding in the closet or under the bed, just that they don't rate as high a concern.
Remember after 9/11 when so many of us had this all-consuming fear of terrorists and how they were going to blow up airplanes, hospitals, government buildings, power plants and poison the food and water supplies, etc.? That was a valid concern back then and being at the height of the whole terrorism paranoia, parents feared for their children's safety with some even investing in bulletproof jackets for them. Is the fear still there now? Not so much. Does that mean we are winning the war on terrorism? Again, not so much.
With the exception of phobias, which are severe anxiety disorders, most people get by with just a modest fear of things like heights, flying, enclosed spaces, public speaking, loss of bladder control in public, animals (snakes, spiders, dogs, bats, etc.) or being caught at a Jonas Brothers concert. Others get nervous on bridges or tunnels, during thunderstorms, or around fire. Maybe it is just me, but I am terrified that I will be trapped in a car, with a bat, wearing a Jonas Brothers concert T-shirt, in heavy traffic during a thunderstorm on a bridge while a terrorist is shooting at me when I need to pee. I know, the odds do seem a bit unlikely. Bats don't care much for cars, plus I keep my windows rolled up.
One of my family members (and I won't say who, Shannon) is afraid of slugs. Now you might find this amusing because slugs aren't the kind of critter that is likely to leap on you when you least expect it and begin chomping on you. But on one occasion she spotted one on the wall in the hallway leading to the bathroom and freaked out. She called her boyfriend at work and made him come home early and remove it so she could go to the bathroom. And yes, he made it home in time. I would tell you who it was, but I don't want to embarrass her.
Here are some of my current fears:
I'm afraid that California will continue to elect Hollywood actors to serve as our governor after Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office.
Even though the caliber of actors is on the upswing from B-movie star Ronald Reagan to top box office draw Arnold Schwarzenneger, I still believe that the best politicians are people who have some education or experience in the political scene. And no, being related to a politician is no more of an advantage to being a politician than, oh, living next to Russia would be to making you competent in international affairs. Still, as actors go, I would rather go with Governor Bruce Willis than a Governor Keanu Reeves. Yippee-ki-yay, brother truckers! (Or something like that.)
My mother's driving scares me. I don't even have to be in the car and just the thought terrifies me.
God knows I love her dearly but she's 83 years old and her eyesight is so bad I swear she drives from memory. She uses those bumps between lanes like it was braille, telling her she is still in her lane. Now she's panic-stricken because the DMV wants her to do an eye exam before they will renew her drivers licence this year and she has NO chance of passing it. She even asked me if I could get her a copy of the eye chart so she could memorize it and just pretend to read it to the DMV examiner.
Okay, I am the first to admit that my mother is weird. My friends and others that have met her see the cool, funny side of her. They look at her and think, "Ahh, an eccentric Lucille Ball-type character," which is true in many regards. But I'm convinced that as she has aged, what she lacks in natural comical talent is now being compensated by pre-senile dementia. And sorry mom, but maybe it's just better for all involved if we just let pop drive from now on.
And finally two words that strike terror into the hearts of a lot of Americans - "President Palin."
I am convinced that part of Obama's presidential victory can be attributed to fears from voters that John McCain would take an early dirt nap and leave the country in the hands of a confused, inexperienced and dangerously inept hockey mom. It may have been these apocalyptic nightmares that led so many to the polls in record numbers this last year. One can only wonder how Palin would have responded to the worst recession since the Great Depression. Perhaps her experience with finances could have played a major role in turning around the economy. After all, she has seen a bank before.