CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - I'm Not Stressed! (Maybe Just a Little Nervous)

By Jack Cawthon

Well, folks, West Virginia has come in Number One once again. No, it isn't for the number of miles ridden by ATVs over abandoned strip mine sites, nor is it for the number of beer cans per square mile found in roadside ditch lines. (I consider the beer cans important. According to my informal survey, by far Budweiser cans are found more than any other brand. Some years back, Stroh's would have been the leader. I feel this shows an important upward socio-economic movement of the state's beer drinkers and may indicate better economic conditions than have been supposed. Or else, many residents are just drinking more and better quality to forget their problems.)

Now a new study claims that West Virginia is the most stressed out state of all. Who are these people and why are they claiming we are stressed? I'm not stressed! Do you hear, I'm not stressed! I feel like going out on the porch and screaming for all to hear that I'M NOT STRESSED!! Don't tell me that I am! And no study is going to make me stressed, although this one comes close.

Well, maybe a little nervous. If I were to be stressed it would be from living up here in the shadow of Pennsylvania where people believe a groundhog can foretell the weather. Or maybe it's those 30,000 students who are in a Morgantown university. I've always maintained that it would be a good university if only those lousy students stayed away. Count in a few professors in that mix also.

Now mind you, I'm not stressed. But it does become a little upsetting when some of those students insist on walking in the center of busy roadways mixed in with vehicular traffic. Didn't their mommies and daddies ever tell them that cars generally come out ahead when hitting pedestrians? And why didn't they potty train them? They have been known to use alley ways and building walls. (This is mostly a male thing, however.)

To the normal person all this might be stressful, but I've found people in Morgantown that we should rate highly as the non-stressed. Maybe because they have gotten beyond it. This is fortunate, as the number of cars and trucks exceeds the number of students, or for that matter, all of the vehicles in, say, all of the counties south of Beckley. And they are all on the road at the same time. This, I admit, could be stressful if one didn't know the proper vocabulary to relives one's self of stress. Helpful waves of the hands, the Morgantown turn signal, with most of the fingers closed indicate that we take time to wave at our neighbors, which does much to sooth stress.

I suppose that boxes going up on every vacant square of earth would stress some people. But, hey, this is called "luxury housing," and we all should be proud to have builders who can present us with such livable space even if it takes sub-prime loans and several sub-prime jobs to afford it. And it's mostly for those students who should have stayed home to begin with. We'll show those parents that if they insist on sending their kids up here, we'll soak it to them. Keep 'em home or send them to Glenville State!

And who told us we have stress? A university in England, for goodness sakes! The lousy British should stay home and tend to their own business. They would all be speaking German nowadays if we hadn't helped them out. Then they would have had their own stress and not need to mess with ours, provided we have any. And I want you to understand that I don't have stress! Did I mention that before? I just feel like screaming, but that wouldn't draw attention from anyone. Those students -- did I mention that mess? -- they make so much noise no one would hear, or even care.

Those same researchers claim that people in Washington, D.C., were tops for being curious and creative. Yes, they certainly are creative with our tax money. And I'm sure they are curious as to whether we can send more.

Poor health is the reason given for our stress. Maybe that stems somewhat from all the beer cans found along the roadside. But how are we to deal with all that stress, provided we have it, and, as I've tried to make clear, I don't have stress. And if I hadn't been raised a dry Methodist and taught not to litter I haven't added to that roadside display. I drink coffee instead. Since I began this writing, I've had maybe five or six cups because calling me stressed makes me so INTENSE that I need the coffee for my nerves. And it's good to go along with the potato chips and the Twinkies I had for breakfast. And just calling me stressed raises my blood pressure. Did those bloody Britishers take that into consideration? They may have caused our stress, should we have any, and I certainly don't.

When was this study conducted? We aren't told. If it was in January, that's when the Legislature meets, and sure if there is ever stress it is then. Who knows what those yahoos might do! Already it's September and not too late to begin worrying about that gathering. I admit, I'm feeling a little stressed thinking about it. Whoa, I almost forgot. We need to get through a general election before then. Who to vote for? I'll admit I'm enticed with a beauty queen who handles an assault rifle. Even ardent feminists will have to admit that produces killer looks! But I find that image a little stressful itself. Maybe she might take off moose hunting just when the Russians invade Georgia or one of our other southern states.

Whew! That cup of coffee helps. It's almost like I was feeling stress, which I'm not, and now I feel, well, a little shaky, but not stressed. I wish those researchers had interviewed someone like me. I could have told them that I'm not stressed and I'm certain they would have seen that. I would have sent them on up the road to Pennsylvania. Now that's a stressed state that probably has Keystone beer cans in its ditches.