By Lynn Ashby 7 Feb. 2011
AVOID THE VOID
THE WAREHOUSE – Did you notice that the feds are doing away with our terrorism color alerts? You remember them, don’t you? Green for the Enemy Is Defeated, then to other threat levels including orange for It Looks Dicey to red for All Is Lost! At first, the worsening-storm warnings alarmed us, then confused us, then were totally ignored. (Remember the old graffiti: “Be alert. This country needs more lerts.”)
The only time I ever experienced the alerts was waiting for a plane in Destin, Fla. A voice came over the lobby loudspeakers warning of an orange alert. It upset me, but no one else seemed to care. So much for two-if-by-sea alarms.
Ah, but where do the alerts go? They come here, which is why I have brought you to this large warehouse in the West Texas desert. This collection, ladies and gentlemen, is the Void. It is where everything goes which we once had, even cherished, but abandoned out of terminal ennui. Note that the green-yellow-red alerts are placed next to ice trays and inner tubes, just behind the League of Nations. You also see the once-common children who say “Sir” and “Ma’m.” These are pipes. Really now, when was the last time you saw anyone smoking a pipe? As for Telex, we hardly knew ye.
Here are hula-hoops, dial phones and a DuMont black-and-white TV set, complete with rabbit ears. That reminds me, here’s a Betamax, next to the VCR and the electric typewriter. This, young people, is called an ink blotter, which goes with this fountain pen. Don’t laugh. Some day your iPad will be here, just like your Walkman.
“What’s that over there,” you ask? It’s called a screened-in porch. Next is an electric shaver, which never really caught on. Sitting beside it is a straight razor. My grandfather used a straight razor, with brush and soap and shaving stand, all his adult life. And used a razor strop, which had a two-headed eagle on the top. I asked him what that signified, and he said, without missing a stroke, “Why, the Czar, of course.” Seems Grandpa was once offered a job in St. Petersburg. It’s a long story.
Some of you may be wondering why newspapers aren’t included – gone, dead or dying, we hear. But they aren’t eligible for the Void and probably never will be. As long as there are curious and intelligent people, there will be newspapers, just don’t invest in newsprint. Oh, sure, newspapers will look different. Always have, always will. I’ve got front pages from the 1600s and 1700s which look nothing like today’s product. What doesn’t change? Have you seen last year’s cell phones?
Of course, the Void holds not only things, but other stuff, like expressions, going back to 23-Skaddoo and the cat’s meow. In WW II the GIs would write “Kilroy was here,” and now Kilroy is, indeed, here. We have Whazzup?, Esperanto and That’s a Big 10-4, Smokey. It’s only a matter of time before There’s a New Sheriff in Town, Man Up and Kerfuffle are tossed into the Void.
Incidentally, across those dunes out there is the warehouse that holds all deleted e-mails. I mean, you don’t think that obscene note you almost sent to your boss, but didn’t, simply disappeared, do you, when you hit delete? We learned in high school science that we can’t create or destroy matter. All your old e-mails are just sitting there. Hope your boss doesn’t have the key to the storage room.
Note what you don’t see here: those items in our lives which have been around forever and no one has come up with anything better. There are rubber bands and paperclips not to mention toothpicks. The Campbell Soup can has changed, but its label is immortal.
Moving on, we see Bill O’Reilly’s war on Christmas. That accusation really didn’t have legs, so it only lasted a Noel or two before it was consigned here. Wonder if O’Reilly can be far behind? It happened to Arthur Godfrey, Tom Synder and Dick Cavett. Is Keith Olbermann on the way?
There are also a lot of forgotten pols here. Former Speaker Jim Wright, Ben Barnes and the entire Tea Party. Newt Gingrich should be here, but he won’t go away if you drive a Contract With America through his heart. Gingrich may run for president, but he is carrying more baggage than a Sherpa on uppers. Tom DeLay is about to go into the Void. It depends on the appeals court. No, Rumsfeld and Cheney aren’t here. God must have reserved a special place for them. Did you ever wonder what happened to Dan Quayle? Look no further.
Years ago I shipped George H.W. Bush to the Void, since he was no longer around. He wrote back from Beijing where he was our representative (we didn’t have an ambassador-level post there) saying he didn’t think China was a void. His letter had beautiful panda stamps. I kept the stamps.
These next two items take up a lot of space, and are among the most expensive flops in the Void: the SST and the SSC. You remember the SST, the supersonic transport, which flew at Mach II but was so loud and used so much fuel nobody wanted it but the Brits and the French for national pride. Need I say more? As for the SSC, the Superconducting Super Collider, that billion dollar boondoggle never did get finished. As you can see, all we have are a few big holes in the ground outside of Waxahachie.
Yes, this is where fads go to die, as I was telling Afro and Mama Grizzly. But you may be wondering why there are still a few empty aisles. They are reserved for some obvious candidates. This shelf is set aside for incandescent light bulbs, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Texas Democratic Party. I know they’re coming, but until then, I’m staying on red alert.
Ashby is void at email@example.com