My favorite monsters have a cozy place in my head. They live productive lives, periodically go into hiding but always come back up for air. Even if some of them had gone into long term exile like Lenin to Siberia, it doesn’t mean that they are dead. I am also good at acquiring new ones along the way. It must be my friendly personality.
Each of them is an important member of our “communal apartment” – a Soviet-style apartment where several families share a kitchen and bathroom. Or you can also think of them as friends who you let in one stormy night and who’re still on your couch a year later.
To give them the recognition that they deserve and to encourage anyone who lives with them to make educated choices about their habitat, I’ve decided to profile them in a series of short interviews. After all, they work hard to entertain and serve us, and to grow their market share.
Part 1. Anxiety
Engaging and animated, this monster likes to hang out in the back seat of the car. It pretends that it’s not paying attention but both of you know that it’s there. It likes to wear a bullet-proof vest and straps itself to a flotation device even when walking on land. It closes its eyes when its flight is about to take off and carries and microfiber cloth for wiping sweaty palms.
When did you first meet?
On a safari. My host was taking anti-malaria drugs when she discovered that a couple of days after each pill she had an irresistible urge to rob and murder. Every Wednesday she opened a fresh pack of gum just to keep her mouth occupied and not get sued for sharing her thoughts on friends, family and co-workers. When she got home, she quit taking the drugs but the brain had learnt the new sources of adrenaline and refused to give up.
When do you like to appear?
Whenever it’s possible to shift things into overdrive. Like hiking along a cliff – and looking down. Or going through a cloudburst at 65 mph because it’s the speed limit. Or letting a dog off a leash and imagining that it will turn on the turbines and end up in San Francisco.
What do you feel like?
Like a car going into a skid.
What is your favorite meal?
Facebook. And another other medium that throws my host into a whirlpool of information they are tempted to process quickly, come up with comparisons and establish that they’ll never score a job at the UN or retire to a tropical island.
What useful purpose do you serve?
I compensate for complacency and over-confidence. I also let my hosts enjoy the adrenaline rush they crave, and if they know that it’s just their friendly anxiety monster offering them a fix and not really the end of the world, they can ease off gas and stay safe.
What is the best way to inspire you to mind your own business?
To keep calm and carry on. To let others be responsible for their action and not assign their responsibility to yourself. To take time to be prepared, like packing anti-diarrhea medications when going to a foreign country. If you’re already in overdrive, take a step back, watch yourself as if you were an Oscar-winning actor in a blockbuster, and go have a cup of tea.