By James W. Dolan
Special to the Reporter
In our high anxiety culture, it’s easy to go overboard, get your undies in a bundle, or freak out over what we contend with every day. “Wuzzamatter” is a question on everyone’s mind. No one seems to know how to cope with the craziness that surrounds us. So what do you do to avoid going nuts? You learn to “fuggetaboutit.” There are no answers, no solutions only more of the same, so you’d better dull your memory or you’re done for. The words are reputed to have been passed down from ancient Greek philosophers.
Some will say stay alert, don’t give up, fight the good fight, but I say, “It’s over, we lost. Just fuggetaboutit!” The word slides off the tongue so easily. It has a soothing, rhythmic beat that rejects involvement and endorses retreat into a languid nirvana where nothing matters and everything runs together. Once there, you’re no longer compelled to try to make sense of nonsense.
Wouldn’t you love to see a newspaper that contained headlines but no stories? Just a statement that nothing important happened, so just “fuggetaboutit.” Or a cable new program with a regular guest who, when asked, would simply say: “Not important, fuggetaboutit.” Losing your memory would be viewed as a blessing, not a curse.
There are only two words you need to know to express your concern and offer some wisdom to those troubled souls spinning in the sensory whirlpool that passes for today’s culture. You really don’t want to know what’s bothering them but you want to be kind, so “wuzzamatter” takes care of that. After you listen patiently to a reply and realize there’s nothing that can be done, “fuggetaboutit” offers the way to relief.
The words are a variation on the theme of that old song, “Don’t Worry! Be Happy!” There are things you cannot influence, let alone control. Why fret? I certainly don’t expect President Trump to Make America Great Again. But, beyond hoping Special Counsel Mueller will uncover something that brings him down and then voting, there’s not much I can do other than try to console other troubled souls. “Wuzzamatter” is helpful because it brings a problem to the surface. Seeing that it’s hopeless, “fuggetaboutit” puts it in perspective and offers a way out.
This is far from a profile of courage, but it serves as a lifeline to those at the end of their rope, when engagement is no longer healthy or productive. I remember when my mother came into the kitchen all stressed out one day and my father, in effect, asked, “wuzzamatter” and she explained she had crashed into a tree in front of the house. He asked “was anyone hurt?” and she tearfully said “no.” A longtime family doctor in Dorchester, my father was great in a crisis. He said “fuggetaboutit” and went back to reading his paper. Even in a marriage, “wuzzamatter” shows a spouse how sensitive you are while “fuggetaboutit” provides an escape route.
Others may come up with better ways to address difficult situations but in my experience, when small problems are on the verge of becoming big ones, nothing calms troubled waters as effectively as that all-encompassing, poetic problem solver, burden reliever, and pithy pronouncement: “Fuggetaboutit!”
James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law.