Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What, Me Worry?

I remember Mad magazine well. For you more recently born readers, a magazine is a periodical, printed on paper, that is issued weekly or monthly. There are magazines on hobbies, special interests, sports, cars and guns. One can buy them at a newsstand, a place that also vends newspapers, which are printed versions of local and nationals news, sports and other er, things. Such publications may also come to you via subscription delivered by mailmen postal carriers right to your house.

Glad that's settled.

Mad (of which I was an avid fan) was basically a satirical comic book aimed at kids. It poked fun at institutions such as Disney, GM, the government and any product or celeb you could think of. So, basically, grown-ups thought it was Commie propaganda. It was corrupting children's minds.

The hero and spokesperson of Mad was one Alfred E. Neuman. His catchphrase was "What, Me Worry?"

I'm sure AEN is digging America today. Because we, is seems, are all worried.

Water. Whatever comes out of your tap is heinous, foul, germ-infested and causes disease. That's why we, as a country, bought 9.1 billion gallons of the stuff in a year. Now, we worry about what to do with all those bottles.

Weather worries us because so many people forecast it. Are we getting six inches of snow or sixteen? We'd better go to the supermarket and buy bread, butter eggs and milk. Even if we don't need them. Before one storm, I saw a guy purchasing approximately 36 pounds of butter. No lie. I asked him, "Are you doing a butter sculpture during the storm?" He huffed at me. Ouch.

Now when I shop, I watch people who are snooping at what's in my cart. Once, a woman of  a certain girth inspected my cart and went into a diatribe on how peanut butter was killing kids all over the world. I was about to say, "Hey lady, I bet you can't fit through this lane without turning sideways." I kept it civil and just remarked, "How are those pork rinds working out for you?"

Food, of course, is cause of worry. In some states, churches and civic groups have to hire a certified food handler to make sure the Cub Scouts are cooking the burgers to ebony crisps. Pork must be incinerated to ward off trichinosis. Between 2002-07, a whopping eleven cases of this pandemic occurred in the US. [Acenote: The fact that I actually did research for this piece shows my love for my readers.]

Grownup volunteers in day-glo vests are very worried about where we park at the middle school band concert. See my upcoming diatribe about douchey adults, coming soon.

My least-favorite word of the millennium is appropriate. Global worriers fret daily over this word. A guy once opined to me that a Latino bodega was putting up too many cardboard signs in his window, most of them for phone cards. He found this highly inappropriate. He also had fingernails that looked like teensy, quarter-inch crescents.

My late Uncle Tom (well, not my real uncle, but my brother's godfather) was a bellwether in worrying. Right before I went to off college, he sat me down to discuss dormitory hygiene.

"Tim: Your living situation. Private, or what?"

"Well, Uncle Tom, I'm in a dorm. Probably have a roommate."

"And the cleansing facilities, per se? A private lavatory?"

"I doubt it, Uncle Tom. It's most likely a big, shared bathroom." Which it ended up being.

"Tim: three words. Wash. Urinate. Wash."

Tom, God rest him, would be happy today. Plastic gloves for feeding little lambies at the Petting Zoo. Crash helmets on everyone. Triplicate permission slips for kids to go to a circus zoo museum.

Yes, I am worried. I worry that adults are rapidly punching holes in the big barrel of fun kids used to have. This is why Junior stays inside and Tweet, Message, Instafoto, Ineedtoknowyoureverythought. They don't need permission for that.

It's now that folks should worry about old Alfred. He's gone postal.

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