Plastic covers for electrical outlets are a choking hazard. Suction cups on baby-bath seats can suddenly release, causing babies to tip over. Crib bumpers can cause accidental suffocation. Kids can get trapped between their bed rails and the bed, while their mothers are electrocuted by faulty baby warmers. It’s enough to make you scream, “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!” like when you’re watching a scary movie and can see the bad guy hiding in the kitchen.
But if you do get out of the house, don’t use seat-belt positioners on the kids; they are made with no safety standards. Also, remove those “baby viewer” rearview mirrors, as they can become projectiles in a crash.
Of course, even the child-free have to be careful both in and out of the house. Get rid of your dog: Pets cause 86,000 fall-related injuries each year. I know you have already secured your handrails and got rid of your slippery, chemical-ridden rugs and put rubber grippy mats on all of your staircases, and you use a dehumidifier to keep mold spores down, and it’s ridiculous to think you’re not checking the batteries in your smoke detectors, but you do have a carbon monoxide detector, too, right? And you know that coffee makers with timers cause fires and that appliance companies have an “acceptable kill rate” when they release a new product, right? Yes, please, please exercise to prevent heart disease, and so many other obesity-related conditions, but if you have a home gym, lock the door and unplug any electrical equipment when not in use. (Be grateful, even as you Nordic-track and spin, if you have a pear-shaped body [big ass] as you have much less chance of heart disease and diabetes.)
Side effects from medications are no joke either, although what else can you do but laugh if you have a urinary tract infection and the doctor prescribes you Prosed and tells you not to panic if your pee comes out Ty-D-Bol blue. The connection between Requip, prescribed for Restless Leg Syndrome and gambling addiction grows more conclusive each day. The side effects of headache and facial flushing from Viagra seem minor (and cheaper), now, don’t they?
So, maybe, like Joan Cusack’s fabulous agoraphobic character on Showtime’s Shameless, you need to get out, take a walk, even if you have to tie sheets around yourself and an interior (very, very secure) banister. Maybe the chance of a plane wheel falling from the sky directly into your path are slim (data on objects like frogs and plane wheels falling from the sky is often dubitable), but your chance of being in a car accident is one in four (with half of those accidents occurring less than five miles from your home), and don’t read this while you’re driving, as distraction is the cause of 80 percent of driving accidents (and of course, watch out for burns if those air bags deploy).
You’d like to go further away, wouldn’t you, but you shouldn’t fly anywhere, either. Yes, your chances of being in a plane accident are less than those of being in a car accident, but you know there’s a link between radiation exposure and cancer rates, right? Wa wa waaaaah.
All of this information, all of this fear, is probably what has caused so many people to become what I call “agoraphobic lite.” I have relatives who only vacation at the Jersey Shore, and then make up excuses to come home mid-week to check on some vague problem at home, like their (dangerous) pets, or to make a (frequent) doctor visit. I work with people who can barely make eye contact, let alone carry on a conversation, but who send monitor screen after monitor screen of e-mails once they get back home. I know people in their twenties who live in the city but will only go out in their own neighborhoods.
People under 30 might have the right idea by texting rather than talking on the phone (brain cancer), but what about the infections from their body piercings? What about vodka eyeballing? The cinnamon challenge? Jack ass-ing for YouTube? Vampires?
This morning, I woke up to concerns about nail polish. Nail polish? Nail polish? I have little scrubby nails and have loved nail polish since I was in middle school, and now I find out all of my lovely colors, my frivolous fun, are filled with toxins.
I am holding on to the fact that red wine and dark chocolate are still getting glowing reports; if you hear anything different, don’t tell me.