By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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Lots of things scare me these days.

Between rising gas prices, global warming, natural disasters, malfunctioning nuclear power plants and a host of other frightening actual or potential events, I often find myself staring wide-eyed at the ceiling at 3 AM stewing over the latest calamity.

Yet I admit that any control I might have over most of those large scale events is minimal. Occasionally, I can even talk myself out of the worry zone with a simple “Well, there’s nothing I can do about it so I might as well get some sleep.” (And then I have a hot flash which pre-empts all sleeping; that’s another story.)

But there is one thing that so unnerves me that no matter how I try, I am unable to shake the fear it conjures, instead consigned to chasing my tail in a daily effort to avoid the harm sure to befall me should I foolishly ignore the ominous warnings.

The culprit? The Dr. Oz Show, helmed by that beloved health terrorist, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Unless you just landed in the U.S. after a five year trip to Saturn, you know Dr. Oz. Dr. Oz catapulted to fame thanks to the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey, she whose word is law. The good doctor was anointed Oprah’s health guru, becoming her go-to guy for all things medical, thus ensuring his permanent installment as America’s most trusted physician. Now he has his own show. And he scares the crap out of me.

Every day, Dr. Oz highlights two or three of the approximately eight million health issues that are out to get me, frequently employing squishy-looking real human organs and displays utilizing oddly innocuous colored marbles and beach balls to show me exactly what’s going to happen if I don’t listen to him. By the end of an hour-long show, my face hurts from grimacing, deepening the furrows in my forehead. Not to worry, though, for the doc has a solution to every anxiety inducing problem he presents, including wrinkles and worry lines.

Thanks to Dr. Oz, I’ve spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment on tests (a radon kit to test levels in my home), vitamins (fish oil tablets for heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids), wrinkle remedies (the wrinkles aren’t disappearing as long as I’m watching Dr. Oz) and enough fruits and vegetables to feed every inhabitant of the Philadelphia Zoo for a month. So far, the only change I’ve noticed is that I now taste fish along with my breakfast cereal.

Of course, it’s no accident that the man’s name is “Oz.” Like Dorothy’s grand wizard, the medicine man is “the great and powerful,” but even more scary, because this Oz doesn’t rely on smoke and mirrors. It’s just the facts, Ma’am, and that’s even worse. With the science to back up everything he says, Dr. Oz would have even those creepy flying monkeys quaking to the top of their weird bell-hop caps.

And this is no huge-headed bald guy bellowing and blustering. Oprah’s Oz sports a full head of lush black hair and a disarming grin, which would explain the fact that his audience (mostly women) all but swoons when he makes an appearance. He’s a real, live spoonful of sugar, trying to make the medicine go down easier, and the adoring throngs are gulping away.

It’s terror in a very attractive package. It’s a car wreck that I can’t take my eyes off of. It’s a Homeland Security red alert. And even though it’s all for my own good, occasionally, I hit the mute button and just look at Dr. Oz’s handsome face.

Because sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

What’s your take on Dr. Oz, the handsome purveyor of doom and gloom? Click “comments” below and share!