Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)
TITLE: Fizzled Sparklers at Midnight
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The mother of all New Year’s Eves descended on December 31, 1999; the dawning of a new century, as well as a new millennium. The world held its collective breath, time zone by time zone, as clocks ticked closer to midnight. No one knew for sure what would happen, (the real millennium beginning the following year notwithstanding). Would January 1, 2000 be the catalyst for global computer shut downs affecting governments, power grids, military installations, satellites and essential medical services? Would banks close and certain jobs disappear? Would the binary code, 010100, confuse all programmable electronic devices and no longer process or retrieve data? More importantly, would life as we know it change forever?
Nah! Much like the sparkler I held that night, it all fizzled out. God Himself must have laughed at our unfounded panic, as churches, schools and civic organizations held Y2K meetings. Businesses that thrived on the ‘survival’ trade made bank. I remember attending one such meeting where hermetically sealed containers, back pack first aid kits, iodine tablets, and space blankets were sold along with the hype. It was the ‘snake oil’ of the day and I took the ‘cure’. If the world as I knew it was about to end then, by golly, I was going to be prepared. I implored my skeptical husband to clear out one side of our garage. (It was way overdue, anyway.) Then I went to Costco and cleaned them out of peanut butter, crackers, canned tuna, cases of water and toilet paper - lots of toilet paper. I was determined to pull us through this catastrophe, and continue to exist in the relative comfort of two-ply tissue.
When the 20th century tolled its final bell, I was confident in my preparation. The candles and flashlights were within reach. The cash I withdrew from my savings account was secured in my freezer. Our newly purchased generator was ready to fire up. The extra gas tanks for the barbeque stood like sentries by our back door. Even our handgun was loaded just in case roving bands of thieving thugs came around. As we stayed up late, to watch Dick Clark on TV, something became crystal clear, and it wasn’t the Swarovsky ball dropping from Time Square. News of the world’s demise had been highly exaggerated!
Cinderella’s coach may have morphed back into a pumpkin at midnight, but absolutely nothing occurred worldwide besides massive hangovers. I dropped my sparkler and went to bed.
By midday, on January 1, 2000, I was standing in my garage looking over the foolish purchases I had made. Could I have been any more gullible, I thought? A small consolation was remembering the scores of people who had bought the same things, and much more, at the seminar I had attended. We’d all been duped and now we actually had to use up this stuff. A vision of Bubba, from the movie, Forest Gump, recalling all the recipes he would create from shrimp, flashed across my brain. I simply substituted tuna for his creations; tuna casserole, tuna salad, tuna pizza, tuna souffle… Yup, that’s exactly how I would use up my cases of ‘Chicken of the Sea’.
Of course, I was glad that disaster had been averted, but clearly, we had all made much ado about nothing. After the proper amount of time spent on self-recrimination, I pulled it together. Suddenly, I remembered the nuclear fallout shelters of the 1950’s. People then must have felt the same sense of urgency, at the news of the Soviet arms race, as I had about Y2K. They knew how to ‘hit the mattresses’ (as Don Corleone would say), when trouble began. It’s ironic how love caused us all to end up with egg on our faces from the ‘Chicken Littles’ of our day. It was small comfort remembering this, but one that made me chuckle inside.
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