Whenever a columnist is at a loss for a story, he or she seems to dig out that old chestnut about Los Angelenos living in denial about the Big One.
Which, of course, we aren’t.
But to someone in Ashtabula or Downers Grove, the idea that while we’re splashing around in our hot tubs and scratching our backs with peacock feathers (although we abandoned the practice after PETA required the feathers remain on the peacock), we’re totally ignoring the fact that, at any moment, we may find ourselves in a permanent hot tub — if you consider fifty-seven-degree seawater hot.
It makes for great reading during the long winter months when there’s little excitement — let alone peacocks — in their towns but this kind of journalism is yet another example of reporters putting into print stories that have no basis in fact other than solid science.
Psychologists define denial as a childhood regression used as a coping mechanism in which people refuse to recognize the reality of what’s in front of them. This is totally based on the behavior of college freshmen — some from Ashtabula and Downer’s Grove — who would say or do anything for ten dollars an hour and the chance to see hot grad students in lab coats.
(FOR THE RECORD: The definition also applies to a typical day in the U.S. Capitol.)
In Los Angeles, we have so many Big Ones in our lives that earthquakes rank way down on our lists, behind a first prescription for Prilosec, a first pair of bifocals and that first solicitation from the AARP. Look for them somewhere between forgetting the punch lines to jokes and the escalating cost of nose hair trimmers.
Just the other day, for example, my acupuncturist suggested that to relieve my back pain, I get a cane.
As I pointed out to my acupuncturist, if I needed a cane would I be able to rearrange the living room furniture, prune the California oak that’s growing over our roof, hang our Al Hirschfeld print of Woody Allen, lay down a thousand square feet of attic insulation, carry ten boxes of books from the garage to the den and build shelves into my wife’s closet?
Of course not.
And I’ve tackled each and every one of those chores in the last two weeks by putting them on my to-do list. That doesn’t even sound like someone who needs a new pair of glasses, let alone a cane.
Not that I need new glasses.
I can see our 60-inch television just fine, though I expected that, for nearly a grand, the picture would be sharp as a tack.
My wife suggested that I listen to my acupuncturist before I did long-term damage to my back — which is not in danger of being damaged.
I had to explain to her that it’s not my fault people look at a married couple, figure out the husband’s age and then subtract five to get the age of the wife. So if the cane I didn’t need made me look five years older, where would that leave her?
I’ll tell you.
It would make her the target of snarky comments by strangers about how I married a cougar. And that would lead to a real state of denial, as in “Sorry, dear, and would you get me a Tylenol before your cold shower?” although my wife denied that would happen.
Instead, I plan to use a walking stick, which is decidedly not a cane. It’s a fine gentleman’s accessory that will make me look distinguished and my wife look elegant. That will solve any back problems I don’t have, and some marital ones as well.
It’s also a more well-behaved tool for scratching one’s back in a hot tub.
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