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Alex Beam

Prevengeance shall be mine!


It may be too late to catch the much-praised dark comedy/horror film “Prevenge” in the theaters. Critics loved the bleak story line, about a baby in utero that orders its mother-to-be to become a serial killer, because, well, I won’t spoil it.

I love the not-so-neologism, prevenge, meaning to punish your enemies before they get a chance to tap dance all over you. A premonitory note to my enemies: Prevengeance shall be mine!

We are certainly witnessing a preternatural prevalence of prelogisms: pre-nup; pre-teen, pre-order, and pre-gaming — which means having a drink before you are planning to go out for drinks, which is really not a good idea. Then there is TSA Pre status, which offers a quicker trip through airport security lines. I’m a member, although apparently not enough people are.


The flaccid participation rates are bad for airport lines generally, but good for me, specifically. While you are still litigating the airworthiness of your four-ounce tube of Prell, I am pre-boarding.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the burgeoning field of pre-medicine. Pre-diabetes, anyone? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested aggressive screening for the condition, which it thinks may affect one of every three adult Americans. Yet Victor Montori, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, told The Wall Street Journal that “only a small portion of those people are going to progress” to full-blown diabetes.

By presaging pre-diabetes, Montori adds, “the only thing you’re guaranteed to get is more tests, more appointments, more patients.” Medical logrolling in our time. Yes, I could have predicted that.

Pre-diseases are a certified big deal now, indeed many people like me, have been treated for pre-cancers and even pre-pre-cancers. Pre-medicine — how odd that Philip K. Dick of “precog” fame didn’t think of this! — must be the wave of the future. There is a land-office business in pre-hypertension, for instance, which more or less translates into spooking the heck out of you if your blood pressure isn’t preternaturally perfect.


I’ve encountered the term pre-anxiety, which may describe the premonitions I have before setting pen to paper. I don’t want to prejudice you, but isn’t life itself the state of pre-death? So — don’t pre-judge me here — but maybe it’s time to stop pre-worrying about prospective problems and enjoy ourselves while we can. Knock on wood, this obsession with pre-mortality seems a bit premature.

I once wrote a whole column on precrastination, my un-writerly habit of meeting deadlines well before they occur. (I composed this article months ago.) The online Urban Dictionary introduced me to the even more interesting coinage, precrestination, which means “to thoroughly clean one's teeth before visiting the dentist for a teeth cleaning.”

Remember pre-Trump America? Things seemed pretty calm back then. You didn’t have to watch cable news or check online websites every few hours to figure out what which apple cart was going to be upended in your previously unpressured life.

Those days seem pretty prelapsarian right now. Isn’t that the predictably pretentious prattle we’ve come to expect from this column? Precisely.

Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @imalexbeamyrnot.