The Jasper Chronicles

The Journal of a Cynical Dad

Friday, November 16, 2007

Living in the Suburbs Means #5

Poison, apparently.

For as long as I can remember my mother has been paranoid about crime. I suppose as owner/operators of a corner store my parents have experienced crime first-hand (numerous hold-ups, some at gun point). But her fear goes much deeper than that.

My mother can looked down the barrel of a gun and remarkably recover in a few hours. But mention poison around her and she'll break into a cold sweat.


This manifests itself into some obsessive behaviour. Living at home, if my mother stepped out of the house for even a moment, she locked the door. If I stepped out of her house to say, take out the garbage, I'd come back to find the door locked. To the outsider looking in, this seems like a rational thing to do - locking your doors. But peel back a couple of layers and that's when it starts to get weird.

Me: Mom. Why did you lock me out?

Mom: What if someone snuck in and poisoned our food?

Me: Yeah but you left me standing outside in the rain. Besides wouldn't you see them? You were in the kitchen.

Mom: They'd sneak in and hide. Then poison the food when we were sleeping.

Me: Let me get this straight. Someone would sneak in and hide for 8-10 hours inside our house just to poison our food? Someone really wants to poison us that badly?

Mom: It could happen.

Even though I was always tempted to close the debate with "If someone wanted to kill us that badly, wouldn't they just break in and shoot us?" I held back. Like most phobias, common sense plays no part in the rational.

Don't get me wrong. My mother is a wonderful person, who actually has a pretty calm demeanor. Although I suspect she does keep an eye out for shady characters wandering around with boxes of slug bait.

Years later I thought my mother was getting a handle on this - nope. Last week it popped up again.

I left a bag of vegetables outside overnight. My mother noticed right away.

Mom: Do you think the vegetables are okay?

Me: Yeah why?

Mom: Someone might have poisoned them.

Me: Seriously? Someone would wander past and think, "Hey an unsupervised bag of Bok Choy, I'll just pull out my handy bottle of poison, which I always keep with me for moments like this, and..."

Mom: Well this is the big city. People over here are different.

Me: Different in that they carry bottles of poison with them everywhere they go?

Mom: Yes.

I guess I shouldn't make fun of someone else's phobia. But hey, it's my Mom.