I have an irrational fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t think that, in and of itself, is irrational. It’s probably common to fear being wrongfully accused of a crime or the star of a tragic accident.
What makes my fear irrational is how specific it is:
I’m afraid a casting director will approach me about being the leading lady in an erectile dysfunction commercial.
I’m guessing none of the women who auditioned before me had the right look. No, I’m not talking about their physical appearance. I’m saying, maybe none of them could pull off the “challenge accepted” look the woman gives back to her man once he realizes all systems are go.
You’ve seen the commercials—you know the look. They’re cooking together, he looks at her with such hope and she dips her head coyly, then looks up with: I’ve-Been-Such-A-Sweet-And-Patient-Partner-And-The-Payoff-Is-Finally-Here-And-Let’s-Not-Worry-That-The-Pasta-Has-Already-Come-To-A-Boil-It’s-A-Metaphor-For-Our-Love-And-I-Bet-It’ll-Turn-Itself-Off-Take-Me-Now.
Maybe the talent scout is spying on me from the cheese aisle—impressed by my discerning facial expressions as I select cucumbers for my latest spicy pickle recipe.
What if the offer is really good money? What would I do? Me, in a Levitra commercial? I fear this could happen on any given day. My list of West Elm must-haves is getting rather lengthy, so I’m pretty sure I’d accept the role.
But then my fear becomes—what if I’m really bad on the day we shoot and I hear, “Levitra commercial! Scene where she accepts the challenge! Take 92!”
The director (A-list, I’m sure) will bark, “NO! No, no, no, no! You look disgusted by his silent request! You’re supposed to be enthused about midday love. Get it together!”
I’ll be in over my head and want out, but I’ve already mentally spent my earnings so I’ll need to plow through.
And now the fears are multiplying because what if I finally nail my facial expressions and my lines and they ask me to star in hemorrhoid and gout ads? What if I’m offered the lead in a Shake Weight infomercial? How can I turn down all this money? That’s right, I can’t.
But if I accept all these roles, somewhere down the line, I’ll become the face of all-things-no-one-talks-about. I’ll be recognized everywhere I go, yet no one will ever want a picture or autograph. No one will tweet, “Totally eating dinner at the same place as @levitra_preparationH_girl! #lifeisgood #winning #rightplacerighttime”
I’ll be famous, but never on Ellen. A household face, but never host the Grammys. Men who take ED meds will give me suggestive looks while I’m pumping gas or getting a pickle at the movies. I’ll have a huge mansion but when someone new moves into the neighborhood, the neighbors will tell them, “Oh, don’t be too impressed with that—she got her money in less than reputable ways.” They’ll think I deal drugs and never let me coo at their babies or DJ their pool parties.
One day I’ll get the chance to explain how I earned my money, but it won’t matter. The women won’t want me around their husbands and the husbands will be grossed out by my hemorrhoids and gout. I can’t win. I’ll start trying to get work in JCPenney and Kellogg’s commercials. They always look beautiful and peaceful in those.
I’ll go to an audition and hear the director say to the producer, “That Shake Weight has made her arms look great, but do we really want the hemorrhoid girl selling fiber bars?”
I know it’s not normal to fear things that have such a slim chance of happening. But from a very young age, I had a fear that something rare would happen to me—something that universally prompted the response, “NO WAY! What are the chances?!”
For years, when I was young, I lived with the fear that I would be the next Virgin Mary. I was SURE I was going to become pregnant without doing anything that would cause such a condition—and no one would believe me. I imagined myself pleading with my parents to believe me and them saying, “Oh really. So God picked YOU out of 4 billion people?” And I’d say, “No, not 4 billion, you can’t count guys—but yeah, I guess He did pick me out of a lot. Do you really think I could make this up?”
My mom would say, “Yeah, we do. You’ve made up plenty. You swore to us the word “turd” was on your spelling list.” I would say, “The suspect word was “queer” and I just got confused. They both seemed out of bounds for 4th grade.”
In essence, I don’t really fear things like spiders or flying or closed spaces—I fear things that seem unlikely, uncommon and implausible. Because hundreds of thousands of times in this life, people have witnessed or experienced something they, “Never dreamed in a million years would happen.”
Those are the things I fear.
But on the flipside, it’s also what makes me believe I’ll probably win the lottery one day. I’m genuinely surprised every single time my numbers don’t match. Somehow, someway—in my life—something will happen to me that is extremely rare. I just know it. And I hope it’s more lottery and less Levitra.
I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.