From a distance of 50 years, I like to remember my childhood as a carefree time filled with daydreams of Brigitte Bardot and Leave It To Beaver. Truthfully, though, it was suffused with paranoia and existential despair. I knew I should be throwing myself against walls at random moments, practicing the lifesaving moves taught in Duck and Cover, because the atom bomb might drop anytime, anywhere. I never was very adroit at this, but I was plenty scared in the second grade, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when we had atom bomb drills twice a day at E. G. Shaw Elementary School in Beavercreek, Ohio. After that, I could do the paranoia thing without even thinking, and it prepared me well for a life animated by Vietnam, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Nuclear Winter, George Bush I and George Bush II, the Global War on Terror, the Tea Party, the Budget Deficit, and the Eclipse of American Exceptionalism. My heart isn’t in the best of shape now, but my adrenal glands can shoot from 0 to 1400 m.p.h. faster than you can say security.
Only later did I learn to relax with help from Dr. Charles Mingus and the power of prayer. Oh Lord Don’t Let them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me. Oh Yeah!