To call my mom an anxious person would be a grievous understatement. As soon as I burst forth from the womb she started warning me of all the dangers I might encounter in life. Although, it was never in those uncertain terms. I WOULD encounter all of these things. Every worst-case scenario was bound to happen to me. And she didn’t just tell me once– she would repeat these warnings over and over again until I could hear her voice in my head even when she wasn’t there.

As a child I learned about dangers around the house:

Don’t play with plastic bags or you will suffocate to death.

Don’t run with your tongue sticking out or when you fall, you will bite your tongue off and I will have to rush you to the emergency room.

Don’t go to bed with gum or a hard candy in your mouth or you will choke and die.

Don’t eat while lying on your back or you will choke to death like Mama Cass.

Don’t eat these homemade pickles or jam that I made or you will get botulism and die.

Don’t eat anything from a dented can or you will get botulism and die.

Don’t watch anything with violence in it or you will NEVER GET THOSE IMAGES OUT OF YOUR HEAD. (this one is partially true. self-fulfilling prophecy?)

Don’t take more than half an advil/tylenol/aspirin at a time or you will die of an overdose.

Don’t take more than half of a VITAMIN at a time or you will die of Vitamin A overdose.

Even with all these dangers, the home was still much safer than going out in public:

Don’t ride a subway or you will get mugged and killed.

In fact don’t ever go to a city at all. You will surely get mugged and killed.

Don’t ride a motorcycle, 4-wheeler, snowmobile or anything like that or you will get into an accident and die.

Driving brought about a whole slew of new warnings:

Don’t get a car that has airbags or when you hit something, they will, instead of saving your life, decapitate you.

Don’t get a car that has ABS brakes or you will be too confused to understand them and end up getting in an accident. And dying.

Don’t drive over 65mph, or you will get into an accident and die.

Don’t back out of the driveway too fast or you will run over the neighbors’ children and you will NEVER FORGIVE YOURSELF.

Always have liability insurance, or you will hit someone and they will sue you and they will TAKE OUR ENTIRE HOUSE! The entire family will be destitute!

The effect these warnings had on me was two-fold. Some of these fears transferred to me and I became paranoid about them myself. The rest, I did exactly what I was warned not to do, as much as possible. What else is a rebel supposed to do?