What, me worry? Finding keys to happiness

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

“You look worried, neighbor Crandall,” I said.

“I am,” he replied.

“Are you concerned that you’re putting too much butter on your vitamins?”

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“Ah, a painful attempt at humor. I sometimes forget that the Al Batt model didn’t come with a fully functioning brain, but you keep reminding me,” said Crandall.

“The economy has you down? Your mind is troubled by the federal deficit?”

“Nope. The federal deficit is when your son starts college before you have your own student loans paid.”

“I thought perhaps you’d discovered that the “k” in your 401(k) stands for ‘kaput.’”

“I don’t think it’s normal for someone to not worry about money. I was born in a barn, not in a bank.”

“I thought you had been born in the unemployment office. Is it having no job that fills you with doubts?”

“I can always find a job. I’m a skilled worker. It’s not easy for most people to lean on a shovel for eight hours. I can do that for twelve hours a day.”

“You heard that using a cell phone might cause health problems?”

“Sure. You might get punched in the mouth for talking too loudly on one during a Kenny G concert.”

“Are you worried about your diet?” I asked. “There is some research that claims pizza and glazed doughnuts contain calories.”

“I am a man of simple tastes. I believe that if it doesn’t run away from me and it fits into my mouth, it wants to be eaten. I make it a rule not to eat anything I can’t pronounce. Every now and then, I have a strange urge to eat something that’s good for me. Then I remember that life is short. I’ve decided that I want fries with everything.”

“Is it global warming that has you distressed?” I continued as if I were a part of the Spanish Inquisition.

“Some blame global warming on the oil companies and others blame it on all the hot air that Al Gore produces, but it’s my fault. I had, not on purpose you understand, tossed my thermal underwear on top of that globe you gave me for my birthday. My bad. I’ve removed the offending long johns and the problem should be solved.”

“Maybe you’re not getting enough fiber in your breakfast cereal?”

“No worries there. I eat rope. I add prunes to it just to make it more exciting.”

“Are you worried that you can’t find something? You could star in ‘Indiana Jones And The Search For The Lost Car Keys.’”

“Each time I find the key to happiness, someone changes the locks. I tend to be on the forgetful side. That’s because my mind is occupied with very important thoughts.”

“You lost a ball while bowling.”

“True, but I was trying to name all the coaches of the NFL teams at the time. I have an appreciation for things that are pointless,” said Crandall.

“Is the high price of gasoline bugging you?”

“No, I buy only $20 worth at a time.”

“Well, snap out of it. A single bad day lasts as long as a week of good days. Worry causes us to do goofy things,” I advised. “The other day, I needed to arise early to catch a flight. I set the alarm for 4:30. I went to bed at 11. I looked at the alarm clock at 11:41, 12:18, 1:35, 2:28, 3:43 and 4:17. That was because I was fretting that my always faithful alarm clock would fail me. Please tell me what is disturbing you.”

“There are so many things to worry about that I don’t have enough time to worry about them all,” said Crandall. “I will tell you what is currently tormenting me. When I was a boy, my family went for Sunday drives. We had a big old station wagon that covered two zip codes. Pop would fill the car with Ma and us kids, and down a bumpy road we would go. My brothers and I were always fussing. Pop would yell at us. “Don’t make me turn this car around,’ he’d shout. Or ‘Don’t make me have to come back there.’ His greatest pet peeve was when one of us would kick the back of his seat. Then his hand would come flying back and smack one of us. The guilty party never got hit because he knew it was coming. It was always an innocent bystander who would get cracked. ‘I didn’t do anything, Pa!’ the wounded party would whine. Pa would yell, ‘Then pass it onto the guilty party.’”

“And you’re worried because?” I asked.

“I was the last one to kick his seat. I’m worried because someone is still going to pass a slap to me.”

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.