Burt Prelutsky
Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Catchy, but wrong. We also have all that scary stuff to worry about. What is odd about fear is that so many of the things that terrify some people don’t even make other people bat an eye. For instance, I have a relative who served honorably in Viet Nam and doesn’t think twice about soaring around in helicopters, but turns to jelly at the mere thought of driving on a winding road.

Whereas some folks quake at the idea of going up in an airplane, others parachute out of planes just for the heck of it. What’s more, they pay good money for the privilege.

Aside from really scary movies, the thing that invariably brings out the yellow in my complexion is finding myself in a high place -- be it a mountain top, a tall building or even the back of a horse. I’ve always said it’s probably a good thing that I’m short because if I were any taller, I’d probably get vertigo every time I stood up.

But aside from that one little quirk, I am basically fearless. It’s not that I’m oblivious to the dangers that surround me, but that I’m aware that the odds are in my favor. For instance, living here in Los Angeles, I’ve been well aware that we’ve become world-famous for our home invasions, our pit bull attacks and our always newsworthy freeway shootings. But there are several million of us potential victims out here and, therefore, I can’t help but like my chances. And so far, so good.

Like everybody else, I keep hearing that the next earthquake will turn Nevada into a state with a coastline, but it seems like I’ve been hearing that for most of my life.

Part of my fearlessness, I acknowledge, is mostly a matter of temperament. Maybe I suffer from a low metabolism. But some people seem to crave the drama of impending disaster, almost like a heroin junkie craves his needle. These are the people who were convinced that when the clock struck midnight ushering in the year 2000, the banks were going to crash, dogs were going to get up and walk around on their hind legs, and civilization, such as it is, was going to come tumbling down.

Such people, who seem to have Chicken Little as their role model, stocked up on a year’s supply of water, buried gold in their backyard, and armed themselves to the teeth just in case their friends and neighbors came sneaking over to swipe their powdered eggs.