Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Safety in Numbers

A favorite pastime of mine is catastrophic magical thinking. I love to sit back, relax, and unleash the hounds of my mind. I watch them lovingly as they run wild and free, dropping giant, steaming deuces all over my psychological lawn. These metaphorical turds take the form of all possible horrors that could imminently befall me and my family and friends: Ebola; lightening; cancerous moles; wayward tree limbs; hit and runs; accidental firearms discharges; plane crashes; strokes; terrorist attacks (biological and regular); school shootings; and avalanches (in season). I like to pick up each one of these nuggets in a plastic baggie and examine it for its likelihood, which usually turns out to be fairly small. I recognize, for example, that I'm more likely to die driving to the convenience store than I am to contract Ebola, much less perish from it. 

Yet I remain haunted by that scene in "Outbreak" where Patrick Dempsey illegally smuggles a monkey from Africa and tongue kisses his girlfriend in the airport while hacking up phlegm and sweating bullets. Pretty soon everyone is coughing all over each other on a commuter rail, and before you know it people are hemorrhaging from their eyeballs and barfing in each other's faces while Dustin Hoffman tries to save the human race from behind a Tyvek moon suit and a respirator. See what I mean? 

But there's safety in numbers, and I take comfort in that. I'm happy that statistically, I'm more likely to check out of this world by going through the windshield with a bag of Cheetos in one hand and a diet coke in the other. And while that would be embarrassing, it's a lot less scary and dramatic than croaking at the hands (paws?) of Patrick Dempsey's monkey. Although, let's face it: Patrick Dempsey is totally hot, even when he's foaming at the mouth from a virulent tropical disease.


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