Our parents feared the Son of Sam, our grandparents survived the Great Depression, and our great grandparents fled from Napoleon and Alexander the Great, or whatever. But so far, aside from the usual things like spiders, alligators, sharks, the dark, clowns, the Oxygen Network, graduate school, AIM viruses, and great comedians dying, our generation has had little to be afraid of. So in the spirit of both Halloween and wanting other people to share in my daily anxieties, here are 13 things that you can officially be afraid of.
1. Homeless people who want to shake your hand
Just when you thought giving away money was the worst thing homeless people could ask of you, they come up with this. Once in a while, if a homeless guy's really nice or has some special skill like juggling syringes in the rain, I'll throw a few cents his way. But I'm not, under any circumstances, going to shake his hand. So for all the homeless people reading this, please know that it's not anything against you personally. I'm just being safe and playing the odds that you have some horrific contagious disease.
2. Fourteen foot Burmese pythons
I don't know if this news is reaching a national audience or not, but in the span of two weeks in Miami, three enormous Burmese pythons have been found or captured. The first one tried to swallow an entire alligator and exploded halfway through. Scientists predict that this is also how Rush Limbaugh will die. The second one was captured alive in someone's backyard after eating an old lady's outdoor cat, which was really a dick move no matter who you ask. The latest python was also captured alive, this time in a fish pond, and, under Florida's strict trespassing laws, it will be released immediately under my bed.
3. Billy Joel's driving
He knows that it's him we've been coming to see, to file personal injury lawsuits for a while.
4. Saw II
All I know about this is that the middle sister from "7th Heaven" is going to die some horrible death. So maybe file this one under "Thirteen New Things That Should Have Happened Years Ago." Ruthie, you're next. In the mean time, wear looser clothes and stop making me feel uncomfortable.
5. Death by Segway collision
Our parents certainly didn't have to worry about this, because Segways were illegal back then. But now, assuming that you live either on the property of a major computer programming company or inside an actual Segway dealership, you just can't seem to get away from the things. And even though they've become so advanced that you don't even have to buy one in order to not use it, they're still dangerous for pedestrians. A couple ways to avoid this are to always have a pistol filled with riot-control rubber bullets handy, or to simply move to an area without any Segways, such as every place on earth besides Silicon Valley.
6. Jennifer Aniston's sequel to The Graduate
Now that Willy Wonka has been remade, not to mention every Japanese horror film outside of Sony's corporate videos, Hollywood feels the need to ruin another classic. When I think about classics, I picture The Graduate. And when I think about The Graduate, I picture Jennifer Aniston. Of course, I also picture Aniston when I think about lunch, bumblebees, gorillas, and pretty much anything. She's just that hot. But there's no reason that this upcoming film Rumor Has It needs to exist. I'm not going to get into details on the plot here, but there is one thing I'll say: plastics.
7. Gene Wilder dying
I worry about Gene Wilder dying more often than I worry about elderly members of my own family. Maybe it's the result of some kind of denial I'm harboring about the mortality of people close to me, or maybe it's the fact that he was Willy Wonka and Leo Bloom and Dr. Frankenstein, while all they did was raise me. Meanwhile, right now I'm coasting lazily through college and sleeping 14 hours a day, but Blazing Saddles is still awesome.
8. Andy Kaufman really being dead
Kaufman actually died on the day I was born, and so at a young age I was taken to a boarding house for children who could have been possessing his reborn soul. You might remember this from the process used to determine the new Dalai Lama, or, much more likely since you're stupid, from the scene in The Oracle's apartment in The Matrix. Turns out, I'm not Kaufman, and no one is. We thought maybe he'd come back on the 20th anniversary of his death in 2004, but it looks like he might have actually died. Or maybe he really did fake it, then just got so hammered the night before the anniversary that he decided to wait for the 25th instead. It'd be a nice 25th birthday present, but I'll be honest. I'd rather just get cash.
9. The satellite going out during the closing seconds of the USC-Notre Dame game even though you didn't buy books this semester so you could afford DirecTV's College GamePlan package, which you thought might get you an in with girls who like obscure Division I-AA football teams that can only be watched at your house, but which pretty much just shows the same stuff that ABC and ESPN do.
So USC won, right? Good ending?
If they're not dropping flaming metal objects on your house like in the end of Donnie Darko, they're wasting your tax money on things like science, exploration, and the search for meaning to human existence. This is tax money that could be used to make sure more hybrid SUV owners receive government stipends for helping the environment. A Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid gets 17 miles per gallon, almost half as much as a fairly economic, non-hybrid regular car. Who cares about NASA? The guy whose wife made him get the hybrid because Oprah said to needs the money more than we need to find aliens or cure diseases, or whatever the hell they do in space.
11. The robots from I, Robot (except the good robot with the British accent)
Robots are unavoidable, like death and the phrase "I'm not gonna lie." They're coming, and when they get here, they'll be really pissed at Will Smith. The downside of robots is that they can charm their way into your homes and then kill you in your sleep with their laser eyes. The upside is that they can carry stuff for you. We'll see.
12. Global warming
After seeing The Day After Tomorrow and March of the Penguins, everyone's afraid of global warming. President Bush even granted it honorary evil-doer status, and it's currently considered the number two man in Al Qaeda, tied with every other operative we've captured in the past four years. But the way I see it is that our parents didn't care enough about us to stop smoking pot and listening to Neil Young while they were our age, so why should we care enough about our future children to stop throwing Styrofoam boxes full of veal leftovers out of our moving Hummers while we're masturbating to the sound of Amanda Bynes' voice in What a Girl Wants, which is playing on the backseat headrest monitors since we don't know how to stop it because we stole this car from an abortion clinic? Global warming will go away, and if it doesn't, we can always build that anti-ozone dome over the earth from Highlander II: The Quickening.
13. Learning to pay your own taxes
The first time I had to practice filling out a tax form was in 12th grade economics class, and I ended up stapling a bunch of $7 travel reimbursement internship checks to a can of WD-40. I got a C and was told that in real life, the IRS would have required the checks to be facing outward, and would prefer Scotch tape over staples. The bottom line is that paperwork is complicated, and so is remembering all the crap you bought while drunk at flea markets over the course of a whole year. The best way to avoid paying taxes is to not have a job, a family, or a home. Just don't ask me to shake your hand.