I always wondered why there were so many ads for gutter products in the newspaper.
Now, I know. Older people worry about leaf-clogged gutters the way younger people worry about student loans — which is to say, we think about them every day.
It's funny how our worries shift as we age.
For example, I urged our 19-year-old son to come home from college for Easter so I could have an emissions test done on his truck in order to renew his tags.
In my mind I could see him getting pulled over by an Alabama highway patrolman and being cited for expired Tennessee tags: "Son, you ain't from around here, are you?" I thought about this at least once a week.
In my son's mind, this car registration worry did not exist — or, if it did exist, it was way below his existential worry, which is: "What's for dinner?"
Now that I'm firmly north of 60, I decided to make a list of things I worry about now that barely crossed my mind years ago.
> I worry about the snow-worthiness of our nearly-new car tires in a town that averages 2 inches of snow a year.
> I start worrying in early afternoon about my bedtime snack. My go-to is a bran muffin, which sounds just as good to me as creme brulee.
> I worry that if I trim my hedges in January, people will think I am crazy — and that they will be correct.
> Even though I'm double-vaccinated against COVID-19, I worry about loud singers at church. People tend to let loose on "Amazing Grace."
> I worry that the guy playing the vuvuzela stadium horn behind me at soccer games doesn't realize that it's a spit cannon.
> I worry that every four years we will have a wild swing in political leadership, which will make America the crazy uncle of international diplomacy.
> I'm worried about leaf removal next fall, even though the trees are still bare. (Living on a wooded lot makes me anxious in all sorts of ways.)
> I worry that last night's rain will get my new walking shoes wet. The fact that I have dedicated walking shoes should tell you something.
> I worry that pouring bacon grease down the drain is not good for the septic system, which will mean tearing up the flower bed, which will mean upsetting my wife.
> I worry that the Pittsburgh Steelers will go 6-11 next season and miss the playoffs. (Yes, there are 17 games. You can look it up. I worry that's too many for our aging quarterback.)
> I worry that UFOs are real and we are just one big reality show for people on some outer moon of Jupiter.
> I worry that I will get my pills mixed up and think that medicine for an infected toe is my diabetes tablet.
> I worry that my health insurance will somehow lapse for one day, and that's the day I will break my back cleaning leaves out of the gutter. (See, leaves again.)
> I worry that I worry too much.
Email Mark Kennedy at email@example.com.
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