I’m talking about your imagination. Or, more specifically, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, my imagination.
My imagination has been good to me. It gave me a career and a house and a car, providing necessities and the odd treat for me and my family. Multiple blessings have accrued as a result of my rich and active imagination. I really shouldn’t complain.
But that’s what I do.
The downside of my imagination? I can’t turn it off. Like today, for example, I have a dentist appointment. And all I can think of is that Gahan Wilson cartoon I once saw, where a dentist is pulling a guy’s tooth, and he yanks it out with such force, the tooth emerges from the patient’s mouth, accompanied by his entire skull.
Do I really want to be thinking about that right now? The smart money is on “No.” But I can’t help myself. Imagination runs both ways – humorous observations, and hideous dental atrocities.
It’s not just your imagination running amok about scary things. That seems natural. Normal people probably even do that. Though maybe they don’t. When it comes to gauging “normal behavior”, I would not be your reliable “go to” guy. (I am actually an All-Star on the opposing team.)
For all I know, normal people may arrive for their dental appointments, whistling. Whereas, I show up, knees aquiver, and doped up with homeopathic relaxants.
The real dividing line between the – proverbial rather than gender specific – men and the boys is your imagination’s ability to invade your most blissful circumstances, conjuring the direst of eventualities, where none, by the standards that define sanity, are at all likely.
I’m a grandpa, strollering my infant grandson around the neighborhood, giving his worn out but heroic Mom a break, to take a shower. I am not alone. Dr. M is by with me. But I am offered the “strollering honors”, and I gratefully accept.
You have to picture this. It’s a glorious California day. The temperature’s perfect, not a cloud in the sky. The neighborhood’s peaceful. The birds are chirping. It’s a truly “Rockwellian Moment” – the kvelling (proud) grandparents, strollering their grandbaby in idyllic perfection.
So there we are, the four of us: Baby Milo, Dr. M., myself,
And my unstoppable imagination.
With an imagination steeped in self-doubt, fear and a distinctly darkish attitude towards the possible outcomes of life, thoughts like these dance malevolently in my head:
- While I’m momentarily distracted, the stroller eludes my grasp and careens downhill into heavy traffic.
- While adjusting the canopy to protect him from the sun, the stroller suddenly collapses, imprisoning him inside.
- While strollering under a giant oak, an overhanging tree branch breaks off, and lands on his head.
- A car screeches to the curb, kidnappers leap out, scoop up the baby, and race away.
- While soothing him to sleep, my “hurtin’” song leaves his congenitally depressed.
- A passing Doberman chews off his foot.
- I jerkily lower the stroller off the curb, the baby contorts awkwardly, dislocating his neck.
- Strollering past an outdoor hockey rink, a flying puck hits slams into his ear, causing immediate deafness. (Hockey mishaps are unlikely in California, but how many of these occurrences are likely anywhere.)
- A passing pedestrian recently returned from an exotic country coughs and, while in my custody, the kid contracts beri beri.
- Appearing out of nowhere, a crow suddenly swoops down and goes for his eyes.
- A crazed woman, desperate for a baby, snatches up Milo, and takes off in a sprint.
- Residual satellite debris plummets to earth, landing directly on the stroller.
- Overcome by my latent Vampire impulses…
Twenty minutes later, we return Milo to his mother, the baby sleeping comfortably,
The grandfather, drenched in sweat.