Being paranoid is expensive.
You might not think it, what with the usual isolation and aversion to leaving the house, but it’s totally true. Just go ask any one of those “Armageddon prepper” people who keep getting TV shows on deep cable for some reason.
Retrofitting SUVs to run on human feces and training your dog how to run a CB radio both cost a lot of money. A LOT.
Now I’m no prepper. I have no discernible skills that would be in any way useful should society go belly up. Unless writing business-to-business newsletters and complaining about things on the internet plays a bigger role in post-apocalyptic American than I’m forseeing.
So why prep? I’m the guy at the beginning of the zombie movie who gets hit by a car while crossing a street as he’s running away from a zombie. You don’t need to prep for that. You just need to enjoy the ride until that Prius slams into you at a cool 60 mph.
I’m no prepper but I am paranoid.
The other weekend I was putting in some heavy sewing duty on my Halloween costume – My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way circa The Black Parade days.
While I was stitching white stripes on an all-black marching band jacket, I dropped a small-ish straight pin. Without standing up, I looked around for it, couldn’t find it. Looked some more, still nothing.
I stood up, keeping my ears tuned for the sound of metal pinging against hardwood. Nothing. A soft plop on carpet? Nope. I scanned the ground all around me. Still no goddamn pin.
It was gone. To quote the vile Warden from Shawshank, “it up and vanished like a fart in the wind.”
Like the Warden, I don’t let go of things very easily. I couldn’t just accept that it was gone, I had to find it.
Two friends came over later that night and we all spent the evening playing videogames on the Wii. Well, my girlfriend and the two friends did that. I had one eye on the TV and the other scanning the ground for the stray pin.
The night and my friends came and went, and the pin still hadn’t been found.
Now, compounding the problem for me was the fact that we have two cats. I couldn’t get the idea that one of them might eat the pin and die out of my head.
Well, I did get it out of my head through the help of Nyquil, which I took to combat a nasty cold. But once the effects wore off Sunday morning, I was back at it.
My girlfriend and I took the house apart looking for it, vacuumed, shook carpets clean outside like we were pioneers. Nothing.
Each day of the week, the dread just kept compounding. The internet was no help. Basically whenever you look for medical advice online the answer is without fail “you’re dying and go to the emergency room.” It was nice to see that human trend continue in the animal world.
I became convinced the three-legged cat had eaten the pin. Everything he did or didn’t do seemed odd for no reason. “Why’s he laying on the couch like that? He doesn’t seem to be meowing as much as usual!”
But I had no proof. If I took one to the vet I knew I had to take the other one. Otherwise if the first one was clear, I’d just assume the pin was in the other one.
On Thursday, I caved.
I made an appointment with the more expensive vet in my area – the wait for X-rays at the other, most cost-effective one – was way too long.
I bought them in that night and what do you know? No pin.
At a certain point, I wondered if maybe there had never been a pin at all. Maybe it was all in my head. That actually seemed reasonable. Otherwise, where did it go? One of the cats could have eaten it and pooped it out, but I didn’t believe it.
I came home, skipped my hockey game that evening and commenced cleaning the house from the top down for the second time.
Pin. I found the son of a bitch. On the floor under a Halloween decoration that I somehow missed moving a week earlier. How it got there, in a completely different room and under a caldron, I have no idea.
I sat on the couch clutching the pin like the world’s worst trophy for about 30 minutes or so, just unable to process how happy it was that I could finally get out of my head and stop driving myself crazy.
The cost of my paranoia? A touch under $500.
And what did I have to show for my money? Well, let’s see, I guess there’s peace of mind. You know, the very same peace of mind that I found for free sitting under a caldron like 45 minutes later.
At least if I’d put that money towards a feces-powered car I’d have something to show for it. Wrong kind of paranoid I guess.