I just want to focus on my salad, too

Posted: Jul 27, 2002 12:00 AM
Some days I know just what Martha Stewart meant when she said, "I just want to focus on my salad." Martha was trying to dodge questions about her having sold lousy stocks the day before they took a dive; I'm just wishing for a single day when life is sufficiently normal to permit, well, a salad day. Nothing to fret about, no worries, just whether to go with the balsamic vinaigrette or Roquefort. But between a kamikaze stock market, kidnapped children and battered bodies, fires and drought, the ever-present threat of terrorist attacks and carnage in the Middle East, it's increasingly hard to relax into the naïve belief that everything will work out. On top of all that, hormone replacement isn't good for us any more, they tell us. (Favorite bumper sticker: "I'm out of estrogen and I have a gun.") I don't know whether to sign up for yoga classes or buy a gas mask. Buy or sell. Water the flowers or stockpile Dasani. Pray or buy an Uzi. So it goes with TMI Syndrome -too much information, which causes confusion, anxiety and an uncontrollable urge to make lists. I know I'm not alone, but I can't stop. Not like the obsessive compulsive who can't stop washing his hands, but like the opinion writer whose job demands 24/7 attention to horrible, mind-numbing news. You, on the other hand, don't have to read even this. You don't have to turn on the tube, read the papers or study government reports. In fact, I give you permission to stop reading this instant and toss your newspaper into the recycling bin. Or not. Run around the house with scissors, if you want to. Leave the refrigerator door open. Life is short. But whatever you do, don't sell. The Wall Street Journal had a story this week (see what I mean?) about couples bickering over their lost market earnings -"I told you to sell, dadgummit!" -and adult children pressuring their parents to "get out of the market while you can." Nonsense. As one market commentator put it, that sort of thinking simply says, "I buy high and sell low." That's, er, dumb. Don't start obsessing about your children being kidnapped, raped and murdered. These incidents are like last year's shark attacks -not necessarily more than usual, just reported with a higher level of hysteria. As awful as these stories have been, children are probably in no greater danger than they've ever been. Parents, however, could be smarter. They might not let their young children walk home unsupervised at 9:30 at night in a drug-dealer neighborhood, as was the case with the 7-year-old Philadelphia girl who was kidnapped a few days ago and escaped by chewing through duct tape around her arms and legs. Being more careful is always smart; hyper-reacting -as are some parents who, according to news reports, no longer let their children out of the house -is something else. Don't worry about terrorism. Do you worry about death all the time? No. You know you're going to die some day, but you don't obsess about it. You live well, speak kindly to others, hug your children and keep your dog's bed clean. You don't yell, curse or hit. Simple stuff. Do call the police if you notice strangers in your neighborhood acting strangely. Muslims tossing back Cuba Libres in Miami strip joints. That sort of thing. Do understand that Saddam Hussein is a dangerous nut. Hint: Hussein had calligraphers write the entire Koran in his own blood. Ashleigh Banfield showed it to us on MSNBC the other night. With a straight face. Finally, stop worrying about estrogen. Talk to your doctor and figure out what's best for you. Some people need it, some people don't. Some people are at higher risk for heart disease and stroke; some aren't. Everybody should stop smoking, drink only a little, exercise a lot and stay away from sugar and processed carbs. And focus on salads. Use the vinaigrette.