At Least I Didn’t Screw Up as Bad as Pandora
But I Still Shouldn’t Have Opened that Can of Worms
By Larry Kahaner
This story was first published in The Haven
My friend Horace, well, he’s not actually a friend, more of an acquaintance, handed me a can of worms and said not to open it.
“Why not?” I asked.
He looked at me like I had an extra head, which I often carry around to scare little kids, and said: “Because it’s a can of worms, for god’s sake. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to open it.”
Everyone but me. Apparently. But his admonition scared me enough that instead of opening the can, I set it aside and Googled: ‘What to do with a can of worms.’
The answer came back strong and clear. ‘Don’t open it.’
I was directed to several web pages, one of which relayed the story of a woman named Pandora who was given a jar by Zeus. He was a big deal, king of the Gods, and then there was something about Prometheus stealing fire, yada, yada. Anyway, he warned Pandora not to open the jar, but she did anyway and released all the evils into the world. I wouldn’t want that on my head for eternity. Not only that, but people on the web were arguing about how Pandora’s Jar became Pandora’s Box over centuries of retelling the story. It has to do with translating from Greek to English, but I became bored with the discussion and moved to the next site which offered suggestions about hitting a hornet’s nest with sticks.
‘Don’t do it,” the internet people advised once more. Again with the negativity.
To bolster their position they showed me a video of a guy with a large gut spilling out of his T-shirt holding a beer in one hand and a tree branch in the other whacking the hell out of a hornet’s nest. His friends were laughing as his head grew to twice its size and his eyes swelled shut. They laughed even harder when the medivac helicopter’s downdraft blew the beer out of his hand.
Is this what I have in store if I open my can of worms? Do worms even fly? Are there more evils to be unleashed that I don’t know about?
I stared at the can. Then I stared at the can opener. Then I noticed the pull tab. The universe was telling me to open this can.
So I did.
What was inside? Worms slithering around in dirt and moss, minding their own business except for that one worm, the largest of the lot, who squinted from the light for a few seconds, then looked me squarely in the eye and said: “Now you’re in trouble. Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to open a can of worms?”
He was right. My life is in shambles. I don’t want to talk about it. Trust me; you don’t want to know about it, either. Just know that I am rebuilding my life from scratch.
It’s a long road, but I will get there, because I’m learning from my mistake. Yesterday, I saw a sleeping dog and let him lie.