By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 45 – August 17, 2003
Now Playing: “White Flag” by Dido
I was writing what would have been the funniest column ever, and that includes columns written by other humor columnists, when my computer suddenly shut down. You see, I, like millions of other illegal immigrants, was caught in one of BLACKOUT 2003's affected areas (Earth). Of course, I never saved the original column, which was really, really funny in a non-recoverable sort of way. As such, I'm now hammering out this edition from a top-secret candlelit bunker on a computer powered by a monkey on an Exercycle, while all around me the entire city is completely black. It's like Armageddon over here, people. Here's what happened:
-How I ended up in the pitch black of night sitting on what may have been a couch or possibly a pile of dirty laundry drinking warm Old Milwaukees by myself is really quite a funny story. It begins with my mom sending me out to buy ice, and me getting subsequently caught in a traffic jam. I'm not talking about any old traffic jam. Every single streetlight in the city went out thanks to BLACKOUT 2003, and pandemonium quickly ensued. People were crashing into each other, running people over, the whole nine yards. I said to myself: “Self, enough of this bad driving. I'm going to Quebec, which is located in an unaffected area (Neptune), so I can drive normally.”
-For those of you who didn't understand why that last joke is funny, Quebec drivers are renowned for their bad motoring skills. Saying “I'm going to Quebec to escape bad driving” is like saying “I'm going to the center of the Earth to escape the heat.” Also, how do you get to be ‘renowned'? Do you have to be nowned first? And “the whole nine yards” of what? That's going to bother me all day. I know those last two thoughts had nothing to do with the rest of the joke, but there you go.
-The corner store was charging $14.75 for a bag of ice, and people were lined up around the block to pay it. $14.75. For fucking ICE. And we're not talking about any of that fancy-shmancy pure spring water crystal clear ice, either. Just regular old frozen water. On an ordinary day, that kind of money will buy you a bag of ice, some hot wax and a hooker to use them on.
-It may be useful for me to add here that while I was driving around aimlessly, trying desperately to avoid getting killed, I was running out of gas. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. Any gas station with power and gasoline left in its reservoirs had a lineup of maybe 100 cars, all of them impatiently honking their horns blasting their radios and air conditioners. So, I got to thinking: How many of these cars will run out of gas waiting in line to get gas? I probably shouldn't have made fun of them too much, since I was in the exact same position, but there you go. At least I had ice.
-Quote of the Moment: As I was sitting in the middle of BLACKOUT 2003's traffic jam, hundreds of dollars worth of ice melting in the passenger seat, I turned on the radio to hear a caller say “I don't know what I'm going to do about getting to work tomorrow. I'm in the security business. Maybe people should call each other up to wake up in the morning.” The radio announcer, clearly irritable, responded: “Lady, if you can't wake up in the morning maybe you should think about not being in the security business.” Oh, BLACKOUT 2003, how serene and docile you've made us all. It's like something out of a fairy tale dream.
-Additional BLACKOUT 2003 Note: The radio warned that because of the lack of power the city would soon run out of its water supply, so we should avoid flushing the toilets unless absolutely necessary. Absolutely necessary? I can't think of a time when flushing the toilet ISN'T necessary! I guess I probably shouldn't have used that night to test out my brand new 2000 Flushes cartridge, though. (FLOOSH…”1743, still blue.”)
-By the time I got back into the city, darkness had fallen. Everyone was talking about the upside of the situation, which is that because there were no lights anywhere, you could see the sky like never before. “Aw, look, there's the milky way! Or possibly a cloud.” Yeah, it's not every day that you can see clouds in the sky. Also, the air smelled like 200,000 scented candles were simultaneously burning, like I was in a soft porn movie. I decided it was time I pulled out the ol' hunting gear to defend the house against looters, cannibals and people who use the acronym ‘ROTFL' in everyday conversation.
-There were a few brief moments when the electricity came back on. I spent those minutes re-setting all the digital clocks in the house (We have fifteen). Then the power went off again. Oh, BLACKOUT 2003, such a tease! Fuck you, world.
-Eventually, I gave up on any hope of seeing the world return back to normal before morning. I lit up some (unscented) candles, formed a pentagram, cracked open a warm beer and prayed for the dark lord Lucifer to rise up and take me down to hell with him. I figured it couldn't be less comfortable than sitting in my newly-non-air-conditioned house drinking warm beer, and it would probably be better lit, too. Well, damn you Lucifer! You've failed me once again! Next time I'm gonna try to summon Mephistophocles. I was really hoping it wouldn't come to this.
-BLACKOUT 2003, The Aftermath: The next morning, the following places were closed: Shopping malls, restaurants, fast food outlets, grocery stores, government offices, corporate offices, 7-Elevens, banks, libraries, schools, places of worship, bars, clubs, courtrooms, fire stations, 911 call centers and hospitals. The following places remained open (in alphabetical order): Framing stores. You'd think I'd be really upset about the imbalance of fairness, but there you go.