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Off the Deep End: An admitted worrier

I’m a worrier, and, according to tabloid headlines, I’m right to agonize over everything. I know this because bad things do happen to perfectly innocent people.

Just the other day, while in line at the supermarket, I read a Globe magazine headline that shouted, “Evil Camilla caught in plot to seize throne!” Is it any wonder I panic? Why is the sweet old queen being targeted? What did she do to Camilla? Does MY daughter-in-law want to kill me?

My husband, on the other hand, worries about nothing. In a word, he is laid-back. Or is that two words? I worry about stuff like that.

My husband, however, does “concern himself” with certain oddities. For example, he came home from a walk with our neighbor, the latter a wellspring of worry-inducing knowledge. He’d informed my spouse, who then informed me, that armadillos cause leprosy, and the little mammals are coming our way.

Right now, they seem to be savoring life in Missouri, but some have been spotted in southern Illinois, one allegedly wearing a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. Southern Illinois is only eight hours by car from northern Illinois. It probably takes somewhat longer if you’re traveling in an armadillo pack, but eventually Lake County could be their vacation destination.

Terrified upon hearing this, I searched for the armadillo-leprosy connection online, and found the following: According to the KSPR website, the ABC affiliate near Springfield, Mo., “Armadillos can contract and carry leprosy. However, the only known way they can transfer this disease is when humans eat undercooked armadillo meat.”

KSPR’s site also stated, “Armadillos often end up as roadkill because they have a habit of jumping in the air when startled. This can be deadly when they are underneath a moving vehicle.”

This really scared me because we were near Springfield, Mo., a couple of weeks ago, and I’d eaten an awfully rare “hamburger” at a roadside restaurant. In retrospect, my meat tasted a little leathery and hard-shell-like.

That I might have consumed raw armadillo meat is based on the following worrisome scenario in my head: The owner/chef of that little roadside diner ran over a startled armadillo, and, as he scraped it off the underside of his car, said to himself, “This would make a great new item on tonight’s menu. I’ll call it `Hamburger Surprise.’”

When I completely convinced myself that I’d eaten raw armadillo, I again I went to the Internet, this time to check for symptoms of leprosy. According to the Center for Disease Control website, these include, but are not limited to, growths on the skin (yup), eye problems (yup), and a stuffy nose (yup).

It’s not just my possibly falling victim to leprosy that worries me. Topping my growing list of fears, I’m now concerned that Camilla, in her plot to seize the throne, will invite Queen Elizabeth for dinner, and on her menu will be cottage pie, a popular British dish, normally made with minced beef. However, Camilla’s cottage pie will not contain minced beef. It will be filled with raw armadillo meat. The next Globe headline will scream, “Camilla bakes queen a cottage pie. Queen keels over from leprosy.”

Judi Veoukas is an award-winning columnist and writes from her home in Lake Villa.

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