Politics & Policy


Fearing fear. And fearing that, too.

FDR said we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

That’s what I’m afraid of.

#ad#I do not fear the tangible. I am not afraid of botched carjackings, SARS, West Nile Virus, deadly mold spores behind my walls, biological attacks, spontaneous combustion, or slipping and falling in the bathtub. I’m only afraid that I will become imprisoned by the fear of these wildly improbably twists of fate.

I am afraid of the time wasted, the life squandered, the priorities inverted–the state of living in fear. For example:

I am afraid that I will become afraid that the low-fat milk container in my local Starbucks is filled wit h Half & Half. That HBO will reschedule The Sopranos in the same time slot as CSI.

That sit-ups cause stomach cancer. Reading books makes you shorter.

Dell Computer will bounce up to $270 minutes after I sell it. IRS agents will knock on my door just to say “Hi!” Mad Cow Disease will leap over genetic boundaries and enter Fresca.

When I cleaned out the attic last winter, I threw away a penny worth $547,000. The man who sold us our house built secret tunnels by which he can return at will and steal my model-train collection. The waiters at the fake-French bistro take bites out of my tuna burger, then smush it back together to hide the evidence.

When combined in the bloodstream, Viagra and Rogaine create swelling of the brain. A man who looks like my twin brother will steal my wallet and assassinate a leading Muslim cleric. I will contract the rare flesh-eating disease but still gain 34 pounds.

My wife will semi-intentionally introduce me to the woman who will become my second wife. The people who produced The Matrix stole the idea from me by traveling into the future, when I will think the story up. Hillary Clinton will become the fourth Powerpuff Girl.

Joe Piscopo and Huey Lewis will open a chain of highly successful 1980’s-themed restaurants. My clone will fit into pants that are too tight for me. My dog fantasizes about fetching other people’s sticks.

Consumer Reports is secretly owned by Osama bin Laden. Free-range chickens eat plastic scraps and wild animal droppings because no one is watching them.

The novel J. D. Salinger has been writing for 40 years will be released the same day as my next book. Macy’s will sell a Bruce Springsteen doll that sings Born to Run and is aggressively priced at $129.99.

The girl who dumped me in 11th grade is married to the guy who beat me up in 7th grade.

Bruce Stockler is a media-relations consultant and humorist. His memoir of family life, I Sleep At Red Lights: A True Story of Life After Triplets, is published by St. Martin’s Press.

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