When I was twelve, David Freeman told a group of us how sex worked. I believed him, because his father was a doctor – well, he was a dermatologist – but I figured he knew.
The information was quite eye opening. But what I remember even more vividly was my response to the revelation of the male component in the procedure, what that crazy colonel in Dr. Strangelove called “our precious bodily fluids.” Upon hearing of the existence of these “precious bodily fluids”, the first thing that popped into my mind was,
“Can you run out of them?”
It was a strange reaction, one only I seemed concerned about. This was, maybe not the first, but a powerful additional piece of evidence, leading me to the conclusion that, “I think differently than everyone else.” While my friends’ minds went straight to how they could, as quickly as possible, get into the game, I alone worried about rationing.
Some people evolve. Anna’s b.f. once told me that, as a kid, he had a terrible temper. “What happened to it?” I inquired. “I grew out of it,” he explained, as if anger were freckles, and it was simply a matter of waiting them out.
I have no personal experience supporting this view. Though I am a number of decades older than Anna’s b.f., I have yet to grow out of anything.
Which explains why, from the day I started this blog, regaling strangers with stories from my past and, less often, my present, I have wondered on a near-daily basis,
“Will I run out of them?”
As you see, I don’t change that much. I am still troubled by the “running out” issue. And I also still do this:
Harboring anxieties about running out of stories, I adopt a strategy I firmly believe makes this eventuality less likely. Call it the “Immunization Strategy.” Here’s how it works. By simply asserting what I don’t want, I immunize myself against it happening, believing that “Whoever’s In Charge” will take pity on me, and generously bless me with the opposite of what I don’t want.
The “Immunization Strategy” and I go way back, “way back”, in this case, meaning before I can remember. This story was related to me by my older brother, because I was, like, four when it happened, and I have no memory of anything happening before I was six.
Our neighborhood was full of kids. This was a time when kids could play outside without adult supervision, as there was as yet no fear of abduction, or behavior towards children, the examples of which are offered daily on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
My brother explained to me that, every week, the neighborhood kids would arrange a “Lucky Draw.” On Monday, all our names were placed in a shoebox, and on Friday, someone drew one out, the winner receiving a highly coveted box of cookies.
The “Lucky Cookie Draw” triggered five days of torturous waiting. How did I handle the agonizing suspense? By repeating, a hundred times a day,
“We’re never going to win. We’re never going to win.”
Well, one week, we won. Instantly, a “Major Lesson” was imprinted on my brain:
"If you really want something to happen, keep repeating that it won’t."
It’s probably unwise to base your life strategies on habits you developed when you were four. And frankly, the “Immunization Strategy” hardly ever pays off. Still, I continue using it. Why? Because it’s all I’ve got.
Despite its dubious track record, on some level, I seriously believe that by repeating, “I’m really afraid of running out of stories” again and again, I am immunizing myself against running out of stories.
The thing is, though acknowledging this as an atypical way of thinking, one hesitates to abandon the product of an original mind such as my own. Yes, I engage in thinking patterns that are odd, often counter-productive and arguably unhelpful. Yet, it must be remembered that the same mind that generated those thoughts played a pivotal role in a successful career. Do you really want to scoff at its beliefs? That mind got me a house.
On the other hand, a new decade is beginning. It may be time to give up the “Cookies” strategy, take a deep breath – writing that just made me take a deep breath – and face the world without the protection of the “Negative Switcheroo.”
You know what? I’m gonna do it.
A new attitude for the 10’s.
Okay. Here we go.
(IN A SERIOUS VOICE, WITH A DETERMINED LOOK IN MY EYES)
Some day, I’ll run out of stories. I’m just hoping it isn’t soon.
A realistic statement, with the risk of a hope. It may not make the Optimist’s Digest, but it’s the best I can do.