Last weekend, Gabriella went out in the morning for a coffee as per usual. She neglected to tell me that she would be running a series of errands that would take the better part of the morning to complete. And when I sent a “Where r u?” text, she did not reply. I shouldn’t have been surprised. This is not an uncommon scenario. I should have known that “I’m going to get coffee” actually meant “I’m going for coffee and the dry cleaner and picking up bagels and getting the car washed and possibly getting my eyebrows waxed. Oh, and while I’m out, I might hit a few shops in search of an electric pasta maker because our manual one isn’t working.”
During all of these errands, of course, her phone was set to silent and, as per usual, tucked away where it does absolutely no good – unless it’s where I always put everything for safe keeping and she’s set the phone to vibrate. In that case, it’s doing her some good but not helping me locate her.
Two hours passed. Then three. At that point, I took action. Did I call the police? No. Did I contact local businesses and inquire about her whereabouts? No. Instead, I engaged in negative visualization – the practice of anticipating the worst for the sake of practicality. Clearly, Gabriella was dead.
If you would prefer not knowing the details of Gabriella’s supposed demise, skip the next 2 paragraphs.
Gabriella was ordering her coffee with the barista when some lunatic decided that he couldn’t wait for his tall Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Light. He stepped out of his place 6 people back in line and stormed the counter with his .45 automatic and demanded service. Gabriella stepped out of the cue and reached for her phone so she could contact the police…or record the scene to post on YouTube. We would never know her intentions because the gunman turned to see Gabriella reaching in her pocket, feared she was packing (because I’ve seen too many movies about people who are packing) and shot.
With his back to the counter, the next person in line kicked the backside of the killer’s knee causing him to buckle and fall to the floor; his face hitting the tiled floor and his hand losing its grip on the gun. Another customer picked up the gun and kept it pointed at the lunatic’s head while the barista contacted the authorities. Gabriella closed her eyes, exhaled her last breath and imagined the Grande Skim Americano she paid for but would not drink.
What? You never imagined the scene of your wife’s or husband’s murder? Really? Huh. Ok, well, I guess I’m special that way. It’s not as if I enjoy conjuring the scene. I can’t help myself. I know it seems extreme to go from running late to murdered, but I don’t mess around when it comes to what ifs.
I appreciate that my brain is set to tragedy-anticipation because I have to be able to prepare for the worst. I don’t care for surprises. I run through the questions I’ll need to answer upon confirmation of my single mother status. Does our insurance cover the mortgage? Should we stay in this house or should we move into a 2 bed condo closer to family? Will friends bring food so that my children won’t starve or do I actually have to learn to cook? Will I be able to find a job in this economy...so I can hire a nanny who cooks? Or maybe I should marry a sheik? Wonder if His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoumis looking for another wife. I have to join a gym if I want to snatch a sheik. Must leave the camel toes to the camels. Do I remember how to drain the boiler every week?
Along with preparing for the worst, negative visualization helps diffuse the horror and is also a type of superstitious compulsion. If I imagine it, it will not happen. Some people are into visualization to realize their dreams. I’m into visualization to avoid my nightmares.
“I couldn’t find an electric pasta maker,” she announced when she finally appeared with the dry cleaning and a Grande Zen tea for me. “Maybe I can figure out how to fix the handle on this one. If not, I’ll have to look for the electric one next weekend.” At least, I’ll know where she is. And, we’ll have fresh pasta and sauce in the fridge in case anything happens while she’s out.