Do you think we are going to get through this thing? My dad keeps telling me not to worry, but I can’t help it, I’m honestly scared about this coronavirus thing and of what’s happening to everybody. I wish you and I could hang out, ‘cause I bet you could calm me down.
Listen, I’m flattered. But I don’t think I could make you feel calm. Not because I don’t want to, but because if we did hang out, you’d hear me speak out loud and say to yourself, “Hey, wait a minute, this guy’s a hick!” And I would lose all credibility in your eyes.
This is why all your trustworthy TV experts are Harvard graduates, Yale lawyers, or certified nuclear proctologists. They are smart, well-spoken, and they wear enough hair product to deflect small-caliber bullets. But they are never hicks.
Me? I can’t seem to tame my hair. And believe me, my mother has squandered years of her life trying to get it to stay put.
The reason I tell you this is because if you and I actually met in person, you’d most certainly figure out that I have no idea what I’m talking about. In which case you would start worrying again.
But as it happens, I do know a little about worry. I had a crummy childhood, just like a lot of people. I dealt with stomach ulcers, anxiety, night terrors, and other things that go along with fear.
The fear was because my family went through a lot of trauma surrounding my father’s death. After he died, we all slept in the same bedroom together for a while. That’s how scared we were. Sometimes before turning out the lights, we would use pieces of furniture to barricade the bedroom door because that’s what irrational fear does to people. It makes them a little crazy.
One time when I was a teenager, my mother and sister went out of town. I chose to stay home alone because I lived in a house full of estrogen, and I wanted what all teenage boys want: Peace and Quiet. It had been, literally, years since I’d used the bathroom without having to wait two hours for someone to finish blow-drying her hair so that her feathered bangs looked just so.
But anyway, after a few days, I started to get afraid, being home alone. And it didn’t help that our house was in the middle of the woods, surrounded by millions of questionable hicks.
One night, about midnight, things got worse. A lot worse. I was awoken by a bright light blaring through my bedroom window. It was a spotlight. The light was roaming through our house like a giant white ball. My dog was barking. I heard men’s voices. I sat bolt upright and realized this was no nightmare.
Someone was looking into our house.
My whole body went cold. I started to tremble. What was happening? Was someone robbing us? I heard footsteps on the porch. Heavy ones. Then I heard a knock on the door. Not a soft knock, but a loud BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And there was that spotlight again.
I stumbled to the phone. I called 911. A lady answered in a beautiful hick voice. “Help,” I said. “There’s someone breaking into my…”
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
I dropped the phone and shut myself in the closet. By now I was in the fetal position. I was a total wreck. I heard movement downstairs on the porch, and I could still hear men’s voices. I was hyperventilating. Getting nauseous. It’s funny how the mind works. You never imagine the best-case scenario. Always Armageddon.
Had they broken in? Why? Were they going to kill me? Perhaps cook me over a campfire with barbecue sauce? I was imagining horrible things, and trembling so badly that I couldn’t swallow.
And I will never forget what happened next. Only a few seconds after my 911 call, I saw red-and-blue lights fill the room.
I peeked out the window and saw a police cruiser pull into our driveway. A deputy approached our house. Three men came striding off our porch.
Soon, I heard everyone laughing. The men all shook hands, smiled, crawled into a pickup truck, and drove away. Then I heard another loud knock.
“Sheriff’s department,” the voice said.
I opened the front door. I was shirtless and barefoot. Trembling and crying. The deputy saw this and pulled me into himself to give me a hug.
He said, “Oh, don’t be scared, nothing to be afraid of. They weren’t dangerous, they were just hunters looking for their dogs, that’s why they had a spotlight.”
But I was already a mess. So we just stood in the darkness while I ruined his clothes with saltwater and snot.
The deputy was wearing a nametag. I’m going to call him, “Lucky.” We sat on the porch swing for a few hours. He talked to me, he calmed me down. He even told a few jokes. When I finally relaxed, he left, and I slept great that night. Mostly because I knew Lucky was out there.
Over the next few days, other officers stopped by to check on me, just to shoot the breeze or see how I was doing. But really, I think Lucky told them to stop by just to let me know they were around. And I can’t tell you how much it meant to me, knowing that Lucky was patrolling the roads, sort of watching out for me.
Well, I want you to know something, darling. There is someone a lot bigger than Lucky out there.