When I was a child, my brother and I loved to ask my father, “Are you nervous?”
Dad would respond like a jittery Don Knotts on the old Steve Allen show with a high-pitched, “No!”
I come from a long line of nervous folks; people who are easily agitated, upset, devastated, reactive and just plain jumpy.
Ask me if I’m nervous today, and I’ll jump 40 feet in the air and say “No!”
Tuesday started with oversleeping, and much scurrying around because our main bathroom was out of order. We hired “Handyman Kevin” to remove the 1977-era teddy-bears-on-the-beach wallpaper that was outdated and sappy when we moved in years ago. Repainting that room had taken a back seat to other priorities, like a new furnace or college tuition.
After that late start, I went to learn about a new weight loss plan.
Yes, you are correct, this is January. This is what I do every January.
This is the year. No more excuses. Won’t I feel better when I’ve lost 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds? Why, I’ll be able to roller skate! (No, I’m confused with the film they show fourth-grade girls reaching a certain maturity, “Now, You Can Roller Skate!”)
The woman at the weight loss clinic took my “before” picture.
I said, “Oh, heavens, I have on a sweatshirt.”
She said, “Fine, we want you to look as sloppy and fat as possible.”
Guilty as charged.
Getting my picture taken made me more nervous.
Why did I think it was a good idea to get a double shot of espresso at the coffee shop on the way home? A double shot is not a relaxing antidote to an anxiety-laden morning.
I came home for two hours to put the finishing touches on the longest piece I’ve written since college. Thirty-five hundred words, plus a 600- word side bar. The story involved interviewing a dozen people and a great deal of research, writing and rewriting.
As I finished editing the final draft, the painter started putting up the molding with a nail gun. The main bathroom is next to my office.
Rat-tat-tat. Boom. Quiet. Rat-tat-tat. Boom. Quiet. Rat-tat-tat. Boom. Quiet.
I know he’s just doing his job. Am I nervous? “No!”
I finished the story, despite the constant staccato blasts from the nail gun next door, and it was time to leave for my next appointment, my annual dental checkup.
Nothing like being stoked up on caffeine and nerves whittled down to the nubbins by the nail gun noise in preparation for a nice, hourlong siesta in the dental chair.
Something about scraping six months’ worth of espresso off the back of my lower teeth, you guessed it, makes me nervous!
It went better than I thought with the hygienist until the dentist came in, and said, “I want to try this new camera on you.” I asked him if there was going to be any additional expense, because we do not have dental insurance (a sad state of affairs that also makes me nervous, and has changed my behavior. I no longer eat hard candy or caramels.)
He said, “Let me show you on the screen.”
The wall-mounted TV showing Dr. Oz went dark and my third upper tooth on the right showed up with an obvious crack in the top.
The dentist did not say this, but this is what I heard, “That will be $1,000, please, and we take MasterCard and VISA.”
Just as I arrived home, I remembered a friend was coming over to pick up an extra printer we have. I hadn’t moved it, so I could demonstrated the copy function, and of course, it immediately jammed.
My friend did not say this, but this is what I heard, “What a bargain this is!”
I opened several of the multiple odd-sized printer doors, and found the jam. Yes, I fixed it, but the whole encounter made me nervous. The nail gunner was gracious enough to put the heavy printer in my friend’s car.
I just needed a nice, relaxing project to finish my day before I made dinner.
This wasn’t it.
After giving my dad “Time” magazine for Christmas for the last 20 years, Dad decided to order his own copy, for whatever reason. Getting duplicate copies made him extremely nervous, so he asked me to take care of it.
I’m putting it off until tomorrow. I don’t think my heart will take talking to a robot that doesn’t speak any human language. I’m pretty certain if I try to deal with this today, I will become easily agitated, upset, devastated, reactive and just plain jumpy.
Published January 2012 as the “Good Morning” feature at Evansville Courier and Press.