Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 Stevie Wonder “Superstition”
 Stevie Wonder “I Just Called to Say I Love You (Instrumental)”
 Stevie Wonder “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”
I try not to focus too much on worst case scenarios if I can help it. It just seems so counter-productive a pastime to me, like a self-fulfilling prophecy just waiting to play out the very moment we believe its hype. Should I accept a throat lozenge from a shrouded stranger in a back alley at the dead of night and start coming over a little woozy, then I’m more concerned whether he will leave me propped up against my gate post or deliver me right to my door than how much my colon is likely to throb come first light. I guess that qualifies me as a dreamer and feel optimistic that this is the correct way to run one’s affairs. After all, who wants to be a Debbie Downer anyhoots? I’d much rather keep hope alive than fastening it to a breeze block before seeing if it floats.
If I decide to engage in a spot of night swimming off the coast of Honolulu with two beef sirloins tucked into my speedos, then I don’t want to be wasting good fret on the possibility of being devoured by a shark, when I could be sweating over the size of my lunchbox when I stride back ashore. A shark attack is the very worst that can happen, whereas public humiliation because the freshwater is minus ten degrees and has shrunken my sunken serpent to the egg of a quail can’t be ruled out quite so flippantly. While I’m attempting my very best Ursula Andress impersonation with half a pound of seaweed stuffed down my skimpies to save my blushes, the worry warts amongst us are still frozen in terror fifty yards out and the odds of an underwater ambush have plummeted hazardously close to evens.
Take it from me, I knew a neurotic old lady once, and this pathetic little cretin had long since run out of reasons not to fear the absolute worst in any given situation whatsoever. I shit you not, a simple act such as walking to the kitchen to retrieve a sandwich from the refrigerator was one fraught with a peril so great that a thorough step-by-step flight plan would need mapping out beforehand. Even then, she would continue to ponder, until which time as the stakes had been raised once again. No longer was the prospect of a hundred-year oak crashing through her conservatory window, handling her inappropriately, then impaling her against the pantry door her main concern. You see, a raven had now landed on one of its boughs and everybody knows what disease ridden creatures they are. Then there’s the whole MRSA threat in the emergency room and the possibility that an AK-47 wielding psycho will grow tired of waiting around for his tetanus shot and open fire. And all this for a fucking ham and pickle sandwich. Hardly seems worth it now does it?
It was deemed too exhausting for me to spend any more than a second in the presence of this rancid vole of a woman so I did my level best to avoid her at all costs. Suddenly, the very worst that could happen actually involved her showing up on the scene, and that was as real a possibility as any other at this point as she happened to be my mother-in-law at the time. Just by associating with a woman for whom the very worst that could happen was the very uppermost of her concerns, I had unwittingly placed myself in a similarly bleak scenario. I believe the word is contagion. You know, like the monkey from Outbreak at its most crabby and bitey. Her neurosis became my neurosis and my neurosis dreaded her neurosis so much that it became even more neurotic than hers. This in turn had her neurosis fearing for the worst and, before either of us knew it, we were level pegging in the neurosis stakes once again and that had both of us sweating bullets.
Please allow me to digress by telling you the tale of a young man by the name of Agrovav Magoobry. This unfortunate fellow lived alone, ate his dinner alone, slept alone, and struggled to amass friends to such a degree that he’d never actually made a solitary acquaintance right the way through to his mid-twenties. Needless to say, he had grown desperately lonely, and decided to take matters into his own hands by signing up for a Facebook account. This appeared a foolproof way to break his duck and the best opportunity for him to improve his social standing and become somebody so he painstakingly selected a profile photo, sat back, and waited for the friend requests to come rolling in from all angles. Alas, for all his boundless enthusiasm and endeavor, it never really worked out to plan.
You see, nobody whatsoever friended him. Despite posting new photos to his wall daily, there was no interest from the wider community, and his time on Facebook amounted to little more than hanging out on his own, sinking ever deeper into despair. Even Mark Zuckerberg failed to befriend him and that was ordinarily a given for new users just finding their feet. The fact that his name was Agrovav Magoobry didn’t help either as there was zero chance of people happening across him by accident after entering the wrong thing into the search bar. However, he persisted, and mailed requests to everyone from school whose names he could remember and prepared to play the waiting game. While most declined out of hand, a few potential candidates simply didn’t respond to his request just to offer him hope for the month it took the server to delete his suggestion and this only made matters worse. His depression worsened and he was all set to delete his account before a turnabout in fortunes which could be described as nothing short of miraculous.
After growing curious one day as to whether or not his name was even registered to the Facebook database, he decided to perform a search and was blown away when another Agrovav Magoobry showed up in his results. Overjoyed, he considered how his namesake would embrace potentially the only ever Agrovav Magoobry in existence anywhere in the world, and saw this as his one shot at getting noticed. This was surely all it would take to open the floodgates and blossom into the social butterfly he craved becoming with all his heart. Thus he knocked back a confidence boosting whiskey short, crossed his fingers tight, clicked the Add Friend tab, and this was the message that greeted him – Agrovav Magoobry has reached his friend limit.
The moral of this heartbreaking story is that what happened to Agrovav Magoobry was pretty much the worst thing that possibly could and therefore an exceedingly improbable outcome. Unless there are any Agrovavs reading this now, chances are, Facebook will prove a most communicative platform and expecting the worst will simply be much ado about nothing. If you ask me, we think too much for our own goods sometimes and, depending on how we’re wired, this can prevent us from doing the stuff we really should be doing. Before we know it, we have become imprisoned by our fears, talked out of taking chances by our own nagging doubts, and spend a high percentage of our time worrying about shit that is massively unlikely ever to become an issue. We may appear normal to the naked eye but, peel back that epidermis, and this is what will be staring back at us in the mirror.
Do you really wish to end up like this? Don’t be fooled by the comfy looking neck pillows or conveniently placed monocle as this is no kind of existence and is the culmination of too much time dreading the very worst. I’m not suggesting for one picosecond that we should anticipate the optimal outcome every time as this would invariably lead to immense disappointment. Indeed, I would happily endorse considering the worst just to balance things up some and keep things real. But expecting that to be the case seems ludicrous to me as all runs of misfortune peter out eventually, no matter how wretched, and our energy would be far better invested elsewhere. Take it from me, I’ve spent more than sufficient man hours languishing in the doldrums to host any great desire to return there. Every single time I attempt something and falter, I take comfort in the fact that the very worst that could happen didn’t, and chalk that shit down to experience. This is where the neurotic amongst us miss a trick as, while they do the same, it informs every last one of their future decisions and the notion of prosperity becomes a pipe dream too far to contemplate.
I guess it all boils down to how much of our lives we fritter worrying about events entirely out of our control. Given that I’m such a deep thinker, I know only too well how overbearing an emotion doubt can be, especially when directed at ourselves. After my mid-life crisis, I sussed out that certain eventualities are simply out of my jurisdiction, and that agonizing over them constantly was like endeavoring to negotiate a plate of spaghetti with chop sticks. Whether or not I choose to deliberate, fate will play its hand regardless, and I won’t have any say whatsoever in the end result. Granted, I won’t blunder in without first weighing up all options, but these will include the very best that could happen also. Suddenly I have a level playing ground to mince about within and, should the probable occur and my fortunes fall somewhere in the middle, then a sense of elation will temper that of outright desolation. Provide me some middle ground and I’m as happy as Babe in The City and far less likely to wind up wiener mulch.
Typical Keeper making a basic point in as ridiculous a manner as possible, but what’s the worst that could happen if you come away from this tête-à-tête even more confused than when you arrived? I guess you could vow never to read my work again and that’s a cold, harsh reality for any writer to be faced with. That said, the best that could happen is that one solitary person will exclaim that there’s a dash of weight to my inane blathering and relate that to their own experience. Suddenly I have a friend, someone to like my posts, a fellow Middle-Ground Moe who has figured out how to use the most rudimentary of spacial awareness to their distinct advantage. Right now, I’m fully aware of the worst that could happen if I continue sowing my seeds in the manner I do currently but I’m also mindful of any potential upsides and that makes any legwork entailed ever so worth it in my estimations. Of course, none of this helps Agrovav Magoobry who, to this day, still boasts a grand total of no friends on Facebook. But he is merely one of the many, just a freakish one-off, and deserves every back pat clearly never coming to him for sacrificing himself as a martyr for the cause.
As for the neurotic little old lady I spoke of earlier, well she hasn’t changed one iota and my sole consolation lies in the fact that our paths no longer need cross. In some bizarre way, I’m actually grateful to her for introducing me to worst case scenarios, as I’m armed to the nines for any bitter blow that life can deal and prepared for the most absurd of outcomes conceivable. Right now I am perilously close to running out of smokes and, should events transpire against me as I embark on that five-minute stroll to the grocery store, then I’ll be set upon by a school of airborne piranha and be whittled down to my marrow in less than a New York minute. However, I may also stumble across a briefcase stuffed to its leather with fifty dollar bills and become an overnight tycoon. Chances are, I’ll return five bucks lighter and utterly devoid of bite marks. Thus I shall wind things up at this point and head off on a pilgrimage which damn near promises to be incident free and, if you don’t hear from me from this day forth, then I ask that you simply think of it as me taking one for the team. There’s really little to lose and, besides, what’s the worst that could happen?