The fretter

As a sixteen-year-old, this was terrifying to me.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I’m concerned about the Fairfield University student reading that’s happening this evening.

It’ll most definitely go well, but I’m gonna worry a little anyhow, ’cause that’s how I roll. I’m a world-class fretter. I worry about ridiculous things.

Here’s an example. When I was a teenager, I thought the Immaculate Conception was the most terrifying thing in the world. My fear was that it happened often, but that only Mary was good and pure enough to convince the world of the truth. I, the over-imaginative and not-terribly-angelic Ann O’Connell, would have no such luck. No one would believe me when I said I was still a virgin. Even worse, my mom would be pissed. I’m sure that my obsession with Greek mythology was a contributing factor to this fear, and that I somehow took my Christian godhead and melded him with horny ol’ Zeus. Did I know that this was an insane thing to worry about? Of course I did. But did it stop me? Hell no. It kept me up nights.

In middle school, I was nearly reduced to tears because I worried that my family would be transported back in time, end up on a wagon train and be killed by dysentery and gangrene. Seriously. I was worried about unintentional time travel.

In grade school, I was concerned about primogeniture in our household. If we were suddenly to become royalty, what would my parents do? I was the oldest, but my brother was the boy. Surely my parents were enlightened enough to know that I would be the better ruler. Wouldn’t they? I asked my mom about this. She deftly handed the query off to my father.*

This is what happens when  a compulsive tendency to worry is fueled by a very active imagination.  When I was a kid, I believed that adults had no imaginations, and that when I grew up my fantasies would be dulled and I would worry only about boring things. Maybe I was right. Because worrying about public speaking is very dull when compared with the fear of a spontaneous immaculate conception.

*My dad told me that he and my mother would wait until my brother and I were older to decide which of us was most suited to rule. He said that the other sibling would be expected to act as a leader in the community, and that both siblings would be expected to support one another. So I have to give my dad props for a well thought-out answer.

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12 thoughts on “The fretter

  1. when i was a kid i was terrified after seeing a few aids awareness commercials weaved into my saturday morning cartoons. i refused to learn spanish because i thought only old people spoke it. i called it the “wrinkled language” because my mother would only speak it around other old spanish people. i miss my childhood ignorance.

    • “The wrinkled language” is such a cool combination of words, James. I’m guessing you overcame your aversion to Spanish.

  2. I worried that my parents, when out of my sight, were replaced by aliens who looked and acted like my parents. As they get older, I know this childhood flight of fancy to be true. 🙂 So “oh yeah,” on the immaculate conception thing. Catholicism does some odd things to teenagers. Harder to explain for a queer kid like me, too. Major props to your dad!

    • Oh yes, the old aliens/robots/monsters have replaced my parents fear. I had a little bit of that. Mostly though, I just furiously hoped that my real parents were a king and queen somewhere else. But that was when I was five, and being punished for something.

      Wait, you were worried about the immaculate conception thing too? It’s good to know I’m not the only one. Please explain!

  3. Pingback: The biological time bomb. « The Garret

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