Years and years ago, way back when I was in elementary school, I remember an afternoon spent baking cookies at a friend's house. I remember the horrified look that crossed over the face of my friend's mom when I popped a big wad of dough into my mouth.
"Spit it out," she demanded. And, because she was very tall and also the gym teacher at my school and I was used to obeying her barked commands, I did.
"It's not ready," she said. "It's filled with bacteria. You could get very, very sick."
I opened my eyes wide and tried not to cry. As a child, (and truthfully as an adult) I hate to disappoint.
Later when I returned home with a little baggy of crunchy cookies, I asked my own mom about the dough. We always sampled. We never talked about bacteria. Were we going to die?
"Some people worry about that stuff," she said.
I thought about Mom this morning when I dropped my daughter at pre-school and a fellow parent confided that he had a stash of Tamiflu. He'd picked it up for the Avian flu, but it's still good and it'll work for Swine Flu, too.
"Wow," I said. "You're prepared." I was impressed. I'm impressed because I haven't thought about the Swine Flu too much. This is the same Dad who thinks nothing of lighting up a smoke in the parking lot of our school. For him, the distant threat of Swine Flu weighs heavier than cancer.
Some people worry about that stuff.
Let's be clear. I do worry. The list of things that keep me awake at night is long and varied. Of course I worry about things that may never happen. But I try to remember that while sometimes a noise in the dark is a serial killer, more often it's just a noise in the dark.