It's been a tough week. My birthday plans were swept away by the rain and snow, I have an itchy rash on the back of my neck, and life has generally gotten in the way of my supreme happiness, which leads me to thinking about:
In my family, all conversations (and some endeavors) tend to, at some point, turn to the mention of worst-case scenarios. For example, when I'm flying into Portland to see my grand kids (and their parents), my last-minute phone commentary before boarding goes something like this: "Okay, I'll see you at baggage claim about eleven o'clock, two my time. If my plane is late, check on that board thingie. If for some reason, it doesn't take off at all, I'll call you as soon as I know." I go on vomiting all my worries out in search of any available cell towers until whichever kid of mine I'm talking to finally says something like, "Worst-case scenario, we'll be happy to see you by mid July," even though it's only early June. At that point, we'll have talked in general terms about plane crashes (which we always seem to survive, barely), the passenger sitting next to us coming back from the bathroom naked,therefore diverting our plane to Nova Scotia, the Portland Airport being demolished by either a monsoon or a meteorite, and my third born, Molly, having a gall bladder attack in midair, even though she no longer HAS a gall bladder, and she isn't on the plane with us anyway.
Do all families think like this? I imagine they probably do, although, hopefully, not to this extent. In my family, we take pragmatic problem solving and turn it into stream-of-consciousness calamity mongering. It's as if the worse we can imagine, the better the outcome, kind like positive thinking in reverse.
Molly tells a story about even worrying at a Metallica concert. I don't know much about the band, Metallica, but I'd imagine that most people who attend their concerts aren't in worry mode for a number of reasons. However, with the percentage who end up in the emergency room, abducted by strangers, or thrown into a holding cell, they probably should be. Because Molly was with two male friends, she felt the need to be in charge of worst-case scenarios all by herself. Josh was given the back-up car keys and A.J. was entrusted with the parking receipt, but Molly managed everything else including the concert tickets and the survival strategies. "If we get separated, let's meet at the Beers of the World kiosk. If that's already closed, I'll find you by the parking entry next to that Ramen Noodle place." Because Molly isn't stupid or overly nurturing, she ended with, "Worst-case-scenario, I'll see you guys tomorrow." The only flaw in her plan wasn't that they got separated or that the Beers of the World kiosk ever closed at all, but that her map of downtown Atlanta failed to include the latest ramp closings to I-75 south.
In an attempt to do actual research for this blog posting, I googled worst-case scenario and found that there's a "Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide" I could order from Amazon, which might help to ameliorate my family's constant worrying. However, after looking at the teaser pages in the advertisement, I realized I'd just be opening up a Freud's Box of new, even scarier, worries. The book includes everything from having a bird caught in your hair, to a spurting artery, to a Tourette's episode (either yours or someone else's), to a suspicious buffet. A suspicious buffet? To my knowledge, no one I'm related to has EVER looked suspiciously upon a buffet, but now I'm a little worried about going to Ryan's Steakhouse. I guess, worst-case scenario, we could always have our stomachs pumped.
With income tax time coming around, I'm back to thinking about the gazillion dollars I'll owe, along with the federal agents who'll bang on my door at three a.m.; with spring, the nearly 100% chance of East African Killer Bee stings while sitting in my Atlanta living room; summer, death by drowning in the Piedmont Park Pool, although I spend summers in Portland, where, even at that time or year, it's too cold to swim.
Last Christmas, in a rare moment of putting a positive spin on things, my oldest, Melissa, and I brainstormed ideas for taking our anxiety-producing compulsions and turning them into a profitable enterprise. We were having a mother-daughter lunch and, as we sometimes do, we were comparing Portland to Atlanta. For some reason, perhaps our choice of beverage, the comparison this time had to do with liquor stores. In Georgia, all package stores are closed on Sunday as stipulated in the Bible. However, on days when they ARE open, you can drag all manner of children and babies into the store with you when you need to pick up a pint. In Oregon, you can never, ever take a child into an establishment that sells libations only, but alcohol can be sold on Sunday, even in a liquor store. Go figure.
Our idea was to own and operate a corner store called Worst-Case Scenario, open only on Sunday, which would have a drive-through to get around those pesky kids in the back seat. The store would primarily sell liquor at outrageous prices, but would also offer the morning-after pill, and, of course, milk and bread. We also thought about adding a bail bondsman to our list of services. Lottery tickets and prophylactics would be out as they wouldn't fit into our business plan.
But, of course we can't do that because, well, it would never work out. The bondsman would turn out to be a serial killer; an anxious swilling mom would back over the foot of her kid running rampant around the drive-through; our milk would go bad; the bread would get stale.
Back to worrying about those bees and the fact that I drive a Toyota.
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