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Cardella: What, Me Worry?

I have a confession. I’m a worrywart. According to the dictionary, that means I exist in a constantly uneasy state of mind. I always expect the worst. A worrywart is not some kind of bump on the skin, but worrying can sometimes lead to bumps on the skin, which can lead to a visit to your dermatologist. Dermatologists can remove bumps on the skin if they are pre-cancerous or cancerous. In my case, there seem to exist only two kinds of bumps — cancerous and pre-cancerous. A pre-cancerous bump — by definition — can become cancerous if not removed. I don’t want to find out what happens to a pre-cancerous bump if I wait too long. So, you guessed it — I visit my dermatologist very often.

I have a secret. Worrywarts hate people who have found serenity. Maybe “hate” is too strong a word. How about “detest?” Maybe “envy” is a better word. It’s incredible to me that there are actually folks in this world who don’t worry. And most of them are my friends. They will stand there and tell us worrywarts not to worry. “What’s the point of worrying?” they will ask me smugly. “You can’t do anything about it.” Yes I can. I can worry. While you sleep peacefully through a crisis, I can take a Brioschi, the Italian Alka-Seltzer. I can do a lot of things. Like pray. What would prayer be without worry? How would it sound to God if I mutter, “Please God. if you can find the time please keep Michael Strahan safe during his upcoming trip into outer space?” I have a feeling God would be thinking, “Don’t waste my time, my son.” So, I don’t pray, I just worry.

About those visits to the dermatologist to remove my “worrywarts.” I don’t want to say my doctor depends on my visits in order to be able to afford to travel, but he’s named all my bumps for the countries he travels to. The one on my chin is Aruba. He just zapped the one on the middle of my forehead — Barbados. My zits or worrywarts form the itinerary for a luxury cruise. (My former dermatologist didn’t like when I called my bumps “zits.” Didn’t think it dignified his profession.)

Most of my friends don’t believe it’s normal to worry. I don’t believe it’s normal NOT to worry. Crazies storm our Capitol. Hawaii gets 12 inches of snow. And then there’s the COVID virus, which I had once and just found out my chances are good to get it again. After getting inoculated three times, if you still get COVID, they call it a “breakthrough.” What kind of breakthrough? Doesn’t the word “breakthrough” have a positive connotation? “Congratulations! You just benefitted from a medical breakthrough! Not — “I’m afraid you’ve just had a breakthrough and got COVID again.”

I think it’s normal to worry about this stuff. They call the new strain “Omicron.” If they really didn’t want people like me to worry, they would name the new strains after flowers. Instead of “Omicron,” how about calling the new strain “peony.” Doesn’t peony sound way less threatening than “Omicron?”

I think they should invent a full-body machine that scans for dangerous bumps and then lasers them all off at one time. This way, I could avoid visiting the dermatologist every week. Once a year, and all the worrisome bumps would be zapped. The cancerous bumps, the pre-cancerous bumps and the pre-pre-cancerous bumps.

When my friends, in all their serenity, tell me that worrying does no good, I mention two words — “Don Knotts.” Knotts’ entire acting career was built upon worrying. He was the Laurence Olivier of worrywarts.

To qualify as a genuine worrywart, you must worry equally about trivial as well as important things. It’s not enough that you worry about a giant asteroid destroying earth, you must also worry why the City is making us seniors renew our transit passes. After all, there’s considerable expense in printing and issuing those new passes. We’re not getting younger so there’s no danger in our becoming ineligible for free transit rides in our future. Money used to reissue senior transit cards could be used to hold inauguration ceremonies for Larry Krasner and Rebecca Rhynhart.

Another area of concern for me — the reported shortage of cream cheese in New York City. If you’re looking for a sign that the end of time is fast approaching, look no further than the bare bagels in New York. New Yorkers are wandering aimlessly looking for a schmear. Curious isn’t it that here in Philly, just 90 miles from the Big Apple, we’re swimming in cream cheese. We’ve got cream cheese in all flavors. Our delis have more flavors of cream cheese than Baskin-Robbins has flavors of ice cream. And to my serene friends totally unconcerned about the shortage of cream cheese, hummus is not a viable substitute for cream cheese on a bagel.

Why is it that we accord medical doctors so much respect that we cede them expertise in other areas unrelated to the medical field? Ever notice? Even the serene folks fall into this habit. I’ve got a friend who consults his ENT doctor on whom he should vote for. The guy treats his sinuses, why is his political opinion worth any more than anyone else’s? A proctologist recommends a good steakhouse, do I care?

I just read that a man waited 50 years before opening a Christmas gift from his ex. Now why did it take that long? Was there a knot in the bow? Did he misplace the gift for that long? Did she tell him not to open until Christmas 2021? How long does an explosive take to detonate anyway?

I worry.

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