There are pluses and minuses to having a ridiculously overactive imagination. The plus side is that every time the phone rings, I automatically assume that it’s the Publishers Clearinghouse calling to tell me that I’ve won the Grand Prize, every single lottery ticket I buy is a winner, and I honestly and truly believe that someday I’m going to learn that I was adopted and am really a member of some extremely wealthy family and that I’ve just inherited a goodly chunk of someplace warm, sunny and extremely exotic.
On the dark side of that crazily overworking imagination is the conviction that I will be murdered whenever I step on an elevator with strangers, that whenever the boss calls me into his office I will be fired, and that the tea my husband made for me is loaded with strychnine. This is not an easy way to go through life, I assure you.
I have always been like this. When I was in kindergarten, we lived in a town where someone living there supposedly had a very vague mafia connection. I must have heard my parents discussion that mysterious fellow citizen over dinner one night because I recall walking to school for the rest of that year positive that every long black car that drove past me was driven by a mafia don looking for a five-year old girl to kidnap. Ditto for gypsies who always kidnapped little girls, according to my grandmother, especially little girls who didn’t put their Barbies away and who never ate their broccoli. I was also sure that the squirrels I passed had some kind of advanced communication system going on among themselves and that one day they were going to gang up on me and pummel me with acorns while I waited to cross the street. I know. Completely nuts.
For a long time, like most of my life, I had a hard time believing that my friends weren’t as perceptive, as well as neurotic, as I was. I was shocked how they strolled around the mall like it wasn’t the possible target of an unannounced riot and how they dated guys because they were cute, never even noticing their dates stunning similarity to Ted Bundy until I pointed it out to them. Of course, they also didn’t expect Steve McQueen to knock on the front door after his Mustang ran out of gas in front of their house as I fondly did for about fifteen years and none of them secretly harbored a belief that Aristotle Onassis was their REAL father. I reluctantly accepted that perhaps I was the one with the issue (although we didn’t use that word back then–back then we called a spade a spade and I was told rather bluntly as well as quite rudely that I was a female version of Woody Allen) and learned to keep my mouth and my eyes open for any and all possible threats/muggers/squirrels at all times.
I’m not quite that bad anymore since as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten too tired to wait for elevator cars that are empty and therefore not filled with potential murderers and too lazy to make my own strychnine-free tea. Looking back, I’ve lived a remarkably drama free life and have yet to have been kidnapped by the mafia, gypsies or squirrels. I’m also still waiting to win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse or even a $5 scratch-off. But I’m not too old to stop hoping. Although I accept with great sadness that Steve McQueen is never going to ring the doorbell, I’m thinking that it’s highly possible, probable even, that the next time the phone rings, I will answer it and hear a Greek accent on the line asking for me…