It has always intrigued me how some people are chronic worriers who fret about every little thing while others are so calm, if lightning struck their house and set fire to it, they would just shrug and say, “Oh well, we were planning to redecorate anyway.”
I hate to admit it, but worrying is one of my hobbies. If I get a pimple, I’m certain it’s the beginning of smallpox or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If I see dark clouds overhead, I want to grab the dogs and rush down to the basement because I’m afraid I’m going to end up like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”
I can’t figure out why I’m the way I am. I mean, my mother was the calmest person on earth, and my husband practically was her clone. I still wonder why their laid-back attitudes never rubbed off on me.
My husband was the type who’d say, “Oh, it’s only a little nick,” if he accidentally hacked off his hand with a chainsaw.
And my mother, when she needed very major surgery, just shrugged and said to the doctor, “OK, let’s get it over with, then,” so calmly, you’d think she was talking about getting her hair trimmed.
When I, however, needed major surgery, I researched everything about it and unwittingly discovered everything that possibly could go wrong on the operating table. I ended up terrifying myself to the point where I nearly had to be anesthetized at home just so my husband could get me to the hospital. And then, for weeks after the surgery, I couldn’t relax because I was concerned the doctor might accidentally have lost something like his wristwatch in my stomach.
I guess I inherited my worrywart tendencies from my father because he definitely was the worrier of the family. Unfortunately, the moment he got even the slightest bit upset, his stomach would rebel in protest.
I’m sure that having me for a daughter didn’t help my poor dad’s stomach any. He was a night owl, so when I reached dating age, he’d be the one who was up when I got home. I remember one night when I came home crying after a date. My poor dad, anticipating the worst, went straight to the cupboard, grabbed a big bottle of antacid and gulped down half of it. Then he sat down, took a deep breath and said, “OK, I’m ready now. Tell me why you’re crying.”
I sobbed out, “I accidentally belched in the middle of dinner! I’m so humiliated, I’ll never be able to face Kevin again!”
Poor Dad rolled his eyes and said, “You mean I just drank half a bottle of that disgusting chalk for that?”
I guess that’s why being married to a mellow guy like my husband was so difficult for me to get used to, even after we’d been married for years. Whenever I was upset, he, in his own nonchalant way, usually would manage to say something to instantly diffuse my stress. For example, I remember one night when he drove me to the mall so I could take advantage of a big, semi-annual lingerie sale.
I wanted to stock up on my favorite brand and style of bra, but after looking through about 40 different varieties without any luck, I approached the sales clerk and asked her if she had any in stock.
“Well, I really would need the specific style number,” she said. “Then I could look it up and see if we carry it.” When I told her I didn’t know the number offhand, she asked, “Are you wearing that style of bra right now?”
I nodded, and to my shock, she came out from behind the counter and right there in the middle of the store, lifted up the back of my shirt, pulled down the band on my bra and read the tag!
Embarrassed and upset, I returned to the car and ranted to my husband about how the sales clerk had just exposed my ratty old bra and my midriff bulge to half the population of Manchester. “And after putting me through all of that humiliation,” I added, “she didn’t even have the bra I wanted!”
Without changing his expression, he calmly said, “Just be thankful you weren’t shopping for panties.”
Needless to say, whenever I went somewhere with my mother and husband together, I nearly overdosed on “calm.”
“I’ve had a terrible stiff neck for a couple of days now,” I said to them as we were riding home from a restaurant one afternoon. “Do you think maybe I got stung by one of those disease-carrying mosquitoes (even though it was the middle of February) and I might have something like meningitis? I read somewhere that one of the symptoms is a bad stiff neck!”
“It’s probably just a gas pain,” my mother said, yawning.
“Your neck hurts because you spend too much time looking down at the computer,” my husband added in a monotone.
Despite the fact I never was able to relate to their seemingly unnaturally calm attitudes, I must confess I really do wish my mother and husband (bless their souls) both still were around to help pacify me.
I mean, I just found these two little marks on my arm that look suspiciously like a black-widow spider’s bite.
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