Hey, pal, you say you were just rammed by a cruise ship while sailing your little 20 foot sloop offshore, and now you’re cold and wet because there’s a hole the size of a watermelon at the bow below the waterline … and the water is coming into your cabin like Niagara Falls … and you’re suddenly sinking 25 miles from land … and your new 300 dollar, waterproof,  reconditioned, bargain radio telephone that you just bought on sale last week is wet and not working so you can’t contact the Coast Guard or the captain of the 100,000 ton vessel that just ran you over … and you say you can’t sail anymore because you’re mast and sails are all  gone and your Honda 20 hp outboard was just ripped off your transom and is  now plunging towards the abyss … and you say there’s a fish swimming right next to your belly button and the only parts of you that are not  underwater are above your nose?  Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?

     Eh, wait a second, time out here, the Editor wants to stick his nose in.  I’ll be right back.

     (Editor’s Note:  Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to personally apologize for this particular screwy hooey/flapdoodle from Lao Du which is preposterous, mindless and absurd – completely beyond the pale.  There is nothing in that harangue with any redeeming social value whatsoever, believe me.  It’s totally lacking in anything constructive.  This is just a litany of doomsday, Debby Downer, miserable depictions – an obvious reflection of the author’s own morose and pessimistic view of the world.  May I suggest you go and watch The Brady Bunch for a more civilized view of real things.  And sorry for this interruption, but oversight is my duty here.) 

     I’m (Lao Du) back.  Oh, man, I’m tellin’ you, there are just some people – some very concrete people –  who don’t get it.  That little boat vignette was only intended as an introductory allegory on stress.  You know, a metaphor of sorts for misfortune.  Maybe even further – depicting misery and tragedy.   And the idea behind it is from The Old Philosopher records (Eddie Lawrence)  from the mid 1950’s, so don’t blame me. (Example of the pathos/humor from that record: “Ya say it’s 4 AM and your kids aint come home from school yet? Is that what’s troubling ya, Bunky?  … Hey there, Friend, ya say your radiators didn’t work all winter and now that it’s summer they started up again and you can’t turn them off?   Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?”) 

     So in regards to the boat thing: Implausible?  Improbable?  So what!  There’s a point to it, and before I was so unmercifully and unjustly interrupted by the Editor, I was going to explain it.  Jeez!  Anyhow, here it is.  I want to talk about stress.  Why now?  Well, because I’m starting to feel it. Maybe not as much as the skipper of that boat, but I’m getting these  Excedrin headaches.  Tension and pain.  (Say, I wonder if I can take an Anacin for an Excedrin headache?)  Even small things, which never before would have caused me even a ripple of concern, suddenly are blown up (magnified) and become crises (not full-blown meltdowns, as of yet).   It’s starting to affect me physically and physiologically (i.e., functionally).  I mean I have a very bad cold now, and with all of the research showing a link between stress and immunity, I don’t think it’s an accident that I’m going through a box of tissues a day.  (Editor:  a sniveler, to be sure.)

     Okay, so you may ask,  What kind of stress do you have Lao Du?  What is causing you to have your Excedrin headaches?  Well, it’s a little delicate and personal but, gracious readers, you have a right to know.  All right, so here’s the thing – but first you must take a solemn oath (I’ll trust you) not to tell anybody.  Okay, good.  Here it is:  I’m building a fallout shelter.  Yes, a fallout shelter. I need it to keep out the radioactivity after we get nuked. Friends, nuclear fission aint fiction.  (Editor:  I think our 1955 Lao Du is still duck and covering.  This dude has got to be outta his mind!)   So, what’s the stress all about, you may ask?  It’s my progress, or my slow progress, to be more exact.  See, I’m up against a deadline.  It’ll be winter soon and I won’t be able to pour my 24 inch concrete walls when the freezing weather comes.  What the hell am I supposed to do if they drop the bomb on us in January or February and my walls aren’t up!  How the hell  am I supposed to keep the neighbors out without my 24 inch walls?  Huh? I got a whole case of C Rations that I bought on sale at an army-navy surplus store that I gotta protect. I got nightmares about it.  I’m seeing Twilight Zone episodes poppin’ up all through the night. Hey, I’m beyond the worry stage, I’m freaked out! (Editor: I don’t think you have to worry about the neighbors taking any of those C Ration cans. Lao Du: Why not? Editor: Because they probably have an expiration date in the late 1940’s. Lao Du: But the nice man at the store said they weren’t rusted through. Editor: He obviously didn’t say the same thing about your head!)

      (Editor:  I think our poor boy is shook up more than Elvis – really fermisht; he’s got what the Chinese call  shpilkes.  I’m shutting this down right now.  If our woeful blogger swears to make this essay more relevant and instructive, then and only then will I permit him to pen a Stress, Part II.)