Posted by: laughs4dads | May 5, 2010

Improbable Calamity Syndrome

So my mom’s flying in Friday for Mother’s Day weekend, providing nothing goes wrong.

A lot of things could go wrong, and my mother is well aware of all of them, from the car service showing up late to take her to the airport, to the airline losing the bag that has nothing in it but her make-up, to getting her sweater caught in an escalator, which actually did happen to her once. (She steadfastly refused to let go of it, so, yes, my mother, like the punchline of the old joke, got stuck on an escalator.)

My mother is afflicted with what friends of ours dubbed ICS, or Improbable Calamity Syndrome. This is like a super-neurotic version of Murphy’s Law which says whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. For people with ICS, even things that can’t go wrong will go wrong.

When you have ICS, you don’t think the glass is half-empty or half full; you think it’s shattered on the floor and you’re about to step on the shards in your bare feet. You’re not so much worried about an asteroid destroying the earth one day as much as you are worried that an asteroid will upset your plans for next weekend.

If there is a storm anywhere in New York State, my mother will call to make sure we’re all right. In fact, when the recent earthquake in Haiti occurred the week before we were supposed to go to the Dominican Republic, she called to check in on us even though we were days away from even leaving our house in New York, as if just having an itinerary putting us on the same island a week after a quake would put us in mortal danger.

Did I mention my mother’s name is Sunny?

Needless to say, growing up in such an atmosphere of impending doom was not conducive to being a wild youth. No, I was a mild youth, and grew into a mild adult, arriving places two hours early because I leave time for non-existent traffic; avoiding activities with even a hint of riskiness (you never know when that roller coaster is going to go flying off the tracks and crash into the merry-go-round, which is good reason not to go on either ride); and not wanting to travel to anywhere exotic, like my brother-in-law, Gary, who took his family camping in Alaska. (My mother would have said, “But the ice caps are melting; you could drown!”) Gary swears he is going to take me kicking and screaming on a fishing trip to the Amazon for his 50th birthday, as if observing my misery will be a great gift for him. He makes the trip even more enticing by claiming there are fish there who enjoy biting penises.

I have made a concerted effort not to impart this risk-averse behavior to my daughter, Casey, who has, in fact, seemingly turned out much more fearless than I am. Last December, she actually drove cross country in the winter, which is something I would never have done unless I thought a tidal wave was about to rise up out of the Atlantic Ocean and swallow up everything east of the Mississippi. On the way, she took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. I’d be reluctant to just lean over the edge to look down.

Anyway, we’re all looking forward to seeing my mother on Friday. I sure hope she makes it.




  1. Is ballooning in Napa out then?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: