SLOWLY LOSING MY MIND I Spell Paranoia A-N-T-H-R-A-X Gas mask. Check. Antibiotics. Check. American Medical Guide to Diseases Currently Popular in the News (Anthrax – Beatlemania). Check.

Bioterror Armageddon Survival Pack: 30 liters bottled water, 100 lbs. canned food, flashlight, 100 hours WWF Raw taped coverage and Britney Spears poster so I can learn to love again. Check.

Continuous connection to CDC infectious diseases Web site to frighten loved ones and scare little children. Double-bolted, blast-proof steel door and shotgun to prevent accidental contact with outside world. Check and check.

All I have left to do is ride out the 21st century. Things are bound to be better around 2101.

Aren’t you frightened over all these anthrax cases? I know I am. There’s an epidemic, I tell you. That’s if you define epidemic as a few scattered cases with the number of infections reaching into the low single-digits, of course.

So we all have to be careful nowadays. For example, I no longer eat bread. Bread? What could be wrong with bread? Allow me to explain. As we all know, bread is made from flour, flour is a white powder and anthrax comes in powder form. Therefore, there’s anthrax in flour, and that, in turn, `thraxes the bread we all eat. It just not that simple. I’m not going to let any terrorist destroy the fabric of our country because I want some stinkin’ toast.

I don’t want any mail, either. I haven’t opened it for weeks. That’s a sacrifice on par with naval aviators over Afghanistan. I mean, I won’t even touch my Maxim subscription lest I come down with the bubonic plague. I don’t intend to open any envelope at all until they either find a cure for all diseases or I become an immortal, omnipotent demigod. Whichever comes first. I’m flexible.

And, of course, I’m taking Cipro. I don’t really understand how diseases work at all, but I’m under the impression that `thrax and friends can get to you anywhere. There may even be spores around me as I speak. Don’t worry, that’s a concern I no longer have to have.

The other day, when I was on eBay buying my third backup gas mask, I found one particular godsend: Anthrax detection spray. Only $64 a can. Oh sure, it looks like a regular hairspray can, but it’s really, really special. Just spray around you, breathe in the fresh lemon scent, and the haze around you tells you where the bubonic cowpox spores are. Ever since I bought 16 cans last week, I haven’t detected a single spore.

You know what that means? That means those magic beans I bought outside a candy house in that German forest really are protecting me from danger. That troll under the bridge knew what he was talking about when he sold them to me. And all it cost me was one goat and one beanstalk. I’m firmly planted in reality.

I mean, how could I not be? New York was catastrophically attacked, U.S. pilots are flying combat sorties over hostile terrain and bombs are raining down on Afghanistan. And my odds of receiving an anthrax-laden terror letter approach infinitesimal levels. In light of everything, my safety is the largest security threat this country and humanity faces, right?

It’s a natural progression of terrorism. First, newspapers, next, NBC News, and then, the U.S. Senate. What’s next? My house, of course. That’s why I’m leaving the country. Nonetheless, I’m always going to be cautious. I’m learning foreign languages so I can properly communicate to others if there is an attack. “¡Ojo! ¡Soy una victima del bioterrorismo!” Perhaps I may need to describe to authorities exactly what happened to me. “Pardon, monsieur, mais je suis thraxé!”

And this may only be the beginning. Today it’s anthrax, tomorrow it’s ebola and then, who knows? I fear the day that I receive an envelope, absent-mindedly actually open it, and out jumps a spider. But it’s not just any spider, it’s a radioactive spider. It’ll bite me, I’ll start wearing blue and red spandex and I’ll begin shooting web-like structures from my hands, leaping from building to building. I can imagine the day.

“Oh my God! My spidey-senses are tingling! With smallpox!”

Slowly Losing My Mind appears every other Friday in The Hoya. The author can be reached at relihanthehoya.com.

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