It's Whipple's World, We Just Live in It
All of a sudden I am choking on fear. My breath comes ragged and sharp. There's a swollen, rotting lump in my stomach, like maybe I swallowed a monkey's head. I have the night sweats so bad, in the mornings I have to scrape my pajamas off with a putty knife.It's this impending devastation of Y2K that has me in such a lather. The millennium bug as it is quaintly called, but a blood splattered Armageddon is more accurate. This is so beyond a case of computer yips. It's the cosmic last call, the end of the world as we know it. The mother of all shitstorms. Y2Kiss yer ass good-bye. The blinders have been torn away and at last I can see that mankind teeters on the brink of ruination. What brought on this epiphany? The return of Mr. Whipple.Up till now I have dwelt comfortably and contentedly in a state of denial. Oh, there will be a few glitches once we click past midnight this New Year's Eve, said I, maybe even moderate disruption in some services but nothing to alter a lifestyle over. And at these prophets of doom, these grub-hoarding, gun-toting, shelter-digging fearmongers who are snapping up mail order electrical generators and water purification systems, I scoffed loudly. In the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, I am the Grasshopper. Koo-koo ka-choo.But no more. I have seen the grievous error of my ways and repent. I'm now trying to get in touch with my inner Ant. You can find me every day at the supermarket elbowing widow women and the disabled out of my way as I empty the shelves of rice, beans, noodles, jerky and Twinkies. And, of course, toilet paper. I am doing my level best to corner the market on new Charmin.When Procter & Gamble dragged musty Mr. Whipple out of mothballs -- the original, still alive and creaking, this isn't some special effects generated talking corpse, like Fred Astaire waltzing with a suck-box or John Wayne peddling brewskis -- the plan was to have him promote the new, upgraded Charmin. At least that's the company line. But beneath the surface, so much more is implied.Before there was a Soup Nazi, there was a Toilet Paper Nazi. A Ken Starr-esque hard-liner, obsessive to the point of brittle hysteria, who sees the world only in terms of black, white and quilted. That was Whipple, in all his unwavering, unyielding petty persnicketyness. It was Whipple's way or the highway.For over 20 years, Mr. Whipple busted the chops of suburban moms who surrendered to their tactile urges and began fondling the butt napkins soon as they hit the aisle. "Please don't squeeze the Charmin," he hissed through gritted teeth."Keep your withered claws off the merchandise, you dead-eyed hag," he must have thought to himself a dozen times a day, yet always managed to choke it back. Why won't they obey his hand-lettered magic marker signs? Are they so love-starved at home, wallowing in sham marriages that they are forced to go trolling for discipline? Do they violate store policy just to experience the life-affirming sting of honest emotion? It's no wonder the man copped an occasional two-ply feel himself. Anything to quiet the despair, tone down the rageNow at this crucial juncture, with history being defined, with the prophecies of an ancient time unfolding before our eyes, Whipple is back. Coincidence? Not likely.This move was orchestrated with the tacit approval of the federal government, which publicly maintains the soothing posture that Y2K is under control. Call the national Y2K information hotline and the on-hold muzak is invariably Bobby McFerrin's mind-numbing ear-Prozac, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." But in the deep shadows, the feds work feverishly to prepare for widespread panic and the utter breakdown of the social order. That's why Whipple's back.He is a high-profile, moral leader. Someone from whom people will take orders without questioning the motive or logic behind it. "Please don't squeeze the Charmin." "Please stop looting the malls and stealing from hard working corporations." "Please evacuate your homes and move into the government run internment camp." "Please do not ask for whipped cream topping to be sprayed on your soylent green."And most importantly of all, Mr. Whipple instills respect for an essential household product. A product which will assume a role of grave importance in the near future.Once the computers freeze up on that dread midnight, the power grids shut down and communication systems go off line, it's only a matter of days until the economy collapses. The stock market plummets, banks board up their doors and overnight, hard currency is worthless. It's either fall into a medieval barter system, which will only hasten our spiraling decline towards the dark ages, or establish a new monetary unit which will be in such demand, that a consistent value can be maintained. On this foundation, the economy can be rebuilt.That monetary unit is toilet paper. The two-ply dollar. Wampum for the new millennium. Food, water and ammo are far too precious to be bandied about. Butt pesos are the ticket. Quilted, not so much for softness, but for durability.What about the nation's gold reserves, you ask? Won't we revert to the gold standard? Face the jangly reality. We are regressing to an almost feral lifestyle; a teeth-bared, bone-gnawing, quest for fire, survive at all costs situation. When push comes to shove, you can't wipe your ass with a Kruggerand.And yet, while it all sounds so desperate, with Whipple leading us there is still a glimmer of hope. He can show us the way to a better, fuller life, admonish us when we stray. He can teach us right from wrong, in the classic, not the poll-driven sense. When finally we begin carving a new society from the smoldering ruins of Y2K, it will be one that is clear-eyed, strong of purpose and morally pure.And please, don't squeeze the moolah.