What do you worry about?
1. Male pattern baldness
2. Birthplace of Bobby Jindal
3. Influence of newfangled technology on our young people
4. Birthplace of Bobby Jindal
5. Religion of President Obama
6. Amy Winehouse
7. Why was Oprah’s sister given up for adoption?
8. Gum disease
10. Everlasting Perdition
Everybody is worried about something. One good thing is that hardly anyone is worried anymore about their New Year’s resolutions. Some of us can’t even remember what we resolved.
I’m not sure that I worried any less when I wasn’t watching television, but I worried differently. For several years I tried to economize by not having television, but I then I missed it too much, so I signed up for cable with Keene Valley Video.
. I was sitting in my living room watching Oprah when I heard someone yelling my name outside on Route 73. I went to the front door and looked out. It was my friend Peg in her van, holding up traffic.
“Hey, Martha! Are you watching television in there? What are you doing watching TV?”
“Hi Peg! I just got cable!”
Isn’t living in a small town great?
Ever since that time I believe my quality of worrying has improved, becoming more organized. Television tells you what to worry about, and encapsulates great tracts of worrisome material into simple terms that are quick and easy to remember, like “childhood obesity.” I would never have known the term “marionette lines” if not for morning television.
Marionette lines — like the ones Howdy Doody and Phineas T. Bluster had on either side of their mouths — are right up there on my worry list now. I try not to assess their progress when I look in the mirror, but I know they are etching relentlessly into my face, just as raging rivers carve channels through rock over time.
I don’t like to say this, but I think people out there in Television Land are cynically brainstorming ways to worry us all sick, so they can sell us products we don’t need.
Do you have symmetrical facial features? Is that a cold sore or a flesh-eating disease? Do you have marionette lines?
Are you sure?
I suspect the tobacco companies and the nicotine gum promoters of aiming their goody-goody “learn to stop smoking” ads at addicted smokers who are perpetually trying to quit. Just talking about cigarettes in a certain way is enough to start someone jonesing. Every time one of those anti-smoking ads plays you can see people all over town jumping into their cars and speeding to Stewarts. Next morning, they’ll call their doc for the nicotine patch.
People are afraid to eat, because the experts keep changing the foods that are good for us. What about tuna? Margarine, which was once considered more healthful than butter, is now bad — trans-fat. I just went to the grocery store and was interested to see all of the foods labeled “Contains No Trans-Fats!” No, they contain lard. there is a whole aisle at the supermarket devoted to bottled water. But why take it on faith that the water in those bottles, from all of those different springs, is any purer than the water that comes out of your tap?
“They test it,” you are probably saying. Who are “they”? Are you sure? This might be something to worry about if your list is getting shorter. Pomegranite juice pushing is another scam.
Some people I know have pretty much stopped eating at all. They just run along taking swigs from their water bottles.
Like junk food and cigarettes, worry can be addictive. What would have happened if Oprah had been adopted out instead of her little sister? How do you feel about your own family? And vice versa?
Are you sure?
If you feel you have to worry, better to concentrate on cellulite than something even more depressing.
On the other hand, some people clearly don’t worry enough, like my friend Adele, who instead of working just arranges lucky knick knacks around her house in accordance with Feng Shui principles in order to bring in money, suitable life partners and so on. She augments her luck with e-mail chain letters, which keep her pretty busy. Soon, she says, she’s going to take up one of those money-making offers on television where you earn thousands of dollars a day working out of your own house in your underwear.
What, me worry?
Have a good week.