Politics & Policy

Phobiaphobia

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.

Most Popular

Culture

Jonathan Swift in a White Suit

In 1965 Tom Wolfe visited Princeton University for a panel discussion of "the style of the Sixties." The author of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, published that year, was scheduled to appear alongside Günter Grass, Allen Ginsberg, and Paul Krassner. Grass spoke first. The German novelist's ... Read More
World

In Appreciation, and against (Too Much) Nostalgia

To put it a little self-pityingly: It seems that my gurus are going, and the world’s. Richard Pipes, the great historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, died on Thursday; Bernard Lewis, the great historian of the Middle East, died yesterday. We had them both for a long time. Pipes was born in 1923, Lewis way ... Read More
Law & the Courts

This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism—May 20

1996—What’s one way to deal with unhelpful precedent? Just ignore it entirely, as Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Romer v. Evans does. In 1986 the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that it is constitutionally permissible for states to make homosexual conduct criminal. A decade later, the Court ... Read More
Culture

Comedians Are Catching On

The comedians are beginning to catch on. Over the weekend -- just one week after featuring a bevy of top-line Hollywood stars impersonating members of the Trump administration, as well as a cameo by a vengeful Stormy Daniels asking for President Trump’s resignation -- Saturday Night Live finally acknowledged ... Read More
PC Culture

The Nature of Progressive Insensitivity

Former vice president Joe Biden is back in the news yet again. For a second time, he seems surprised that poor residents of the inner city are capable of doing sophisticated jobs: We don't think ordinary people can do things like program, code. It's not rocket science, guys. So, we went and we hired some folks ... Read More
Culture

The Feminization of Everything Fails Our Boys

Let me share with you two troubling — and, I believe, closely linked — news reports. The first, from this weekend, comes courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry. In one chart, he highlights the dramatic and growing gender gap in higher education. In short, women are dominating: ... Read More