Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

                                                                                            entry Sept 2015   Allegro ma non troppo #6  (original pub. date, Lion Magazine, 1992)


I learned a couple of tidbits of information recently, both of which fill me with a sense of the injustice rampant in the world. The first one is that sharks do not get sunburned. Picture it: Jaws! up there on the surface, ruthlessly stalking and scarfing down surfers. This guy can stalk and scarf, stalk and scarf, all day long and never have to worry about whether that number 15 sunblock is really quite strong enough. Alas, there is not much we can do about that one. It's unfair, yes, but the way I see it, you have to parcel out your indignant outrage in this life.

The good news is that there is plenty we can do about the second item. It is this: too little stress can cause heart disease! That's right. You have been worrying about too much stress in your lives, and now it seems that too little is just as bad for you. If your day is dull, boring and unchanging, your nervous system (which your heart is not even part of, but what do I know?) can no longer metastasize its stalagmites and you are in big trouble.
Anyway, rejoice, for I bring you tidings of small stress: little things you can do to make sure that you get your minimum daily requirement of irritants, just enough, mind you, to keep the old ticker fit.

One. Arrange to have your pocket picked. I tried this recently and it works. Dress like a dopey tourist, put your wallet in a loose front pocket of your jacket and get on a crowded bus, asking strangers to assist you with that large sack of turnips you have just brought in from the farm. Even afterwards, as you act out your violent fantasy of revenge by setting fire to random busses and passing strangers, you'll still have enough rage left over to insure a healthy heart for the rest of the day.

Two. Become a hypochondriac. That itch on your arm? Surely, you realize that that is the first symptom of Malanov's Syndrome. Six months, max. Even worse, suppose it turns out not to be some fatal disease. All that worrying will be in vain and you are, in the final analysis, not getting enough stress. Six months, max.

Three. Cross-dress at work, one day a week. This is especially effective if you are in the new army.

But, you armchair psychologists say, stress is not the problem, but, rather, one's reaction to the problem. Thus, if your foot is on fire and you look at it and contentedly fall back to sleep, there is no stress. Charred tootsies, but no stress. True. So I emphasize that you should overreact and get vexed at even the tiny things. Resort to stratagems. Think ahead. For example, tie your shoelaces in tight knots before you go to bed at night so it will take you 20 minutes longer to get dressed the next morning, making you late for work. Disconnect the fuel gauge on your car and develop a few nervous twitches from living with that uncertainty!

Go ahead, take umbrage. In fact, take two and call me in the morning.

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