Save your fear for when it matters


There is nothing about COVID-19 that strikes fear in people. But Coronavirus? That’s the ticket. That makes people want to clear out the local grocery store while wearing a full chemical suit.

I know a virus that is being called a possible pandemic is nothing to joke about. So, before you all start writing me letters accusing me of downplaying a looming public health crisis, save your outrage.

Also, I don’t think there is an overreaction going on here. This virus has already killed thousands, so I certainly won’t take it lightly.

But this does have the feel of a “Threat of the Week!” We as a society are very good at whipping things up to frenzy level very quickly. And please, don’t blame “the media” for this. The public is emptying shelves on its own. Just because some virus doesn’t scare you doesn’t mean others aren’t scared to death.

Look, it seems to me that one day a virus will wipe a lot of people out, if not all of us. Viruses have killed a lot of people before, of course. In 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million people. So I don’t take these outbreaks lightly, and you shouldn’t either.

But total terror? Outright fear? I am not at that point yet. In fact, I am nowhere near that point yet. I save my outright fear for other things.

* Going bald. Yes, going bald is a big fear of mine, and has been since I was a teenager sporting a lovely, lush head full of 1970s hair. As a person who has always had thin, wispy hair, the threat was real. I am happy to say that, despite some serious thinning on the crown, I still have more hair than not. But the fear remains.

* Being possessed by a demon. I was raised Southern Baptist, so the threat of demon possession was a real thing to me. I know better these days, of course, but when I was younger I was terrified that I would be possessed. It didn’t help that my mother occasionally called me a “demon child,” but she was probably right, in hindsight.

* Doing something to embarrass my wife. Look, as husbands we embarrass our wives often, but trust me when I say it is not intentional. We want to look cool and confident in front of the women in our lives. We don’t want to say or do something stupid. We still do – often. But we don’t want to.

* Being in a plane crash. Man, that one has bothered me for ages. For years I didn’t fly at all because the fear was so intense. I have flown across the Pacific, to Europe and down to the Caribbean. I have done a lot of flying. Hell, I flew in the back seat of an FA-18 with the Blue Angels. But I can honestly say that, except for maybe my first handful of flights, I have been afraid every time. It is doable now, but I am still not comfortable until we touch down.

We all have fears and dying is a big one for most people. That is why the thought of a pandemic really freaks people out so much. Well, you are going to die someday – sorry to break that to you. So, save your fear for things that you should be afraid of, like spiders. Or your heater breaking during the Polar Vortex.