MAD DOG: The Official Column of the Millennium

The upcoming millennium is quickly approaching and people everywhere are getting worried. Who can blame them? After all, hotels and cruise ships have been sold out for New Year's Eve since the Bicentennial, your computer is sitting around at night plotting how best to stop working and screw up your life on January 1st, and every breathing Republican has already announced his or her candidacy for the First Presidential Election of the Millennium, including Dan Quayle, proving that the end of the world may be closer than you thought.Lest you scoff, the year 2,000 really is a big deal. Think of it as the equivalent of your odometer rolling over from 999,999 to 0, except you can't trade the old year in on a new one to lower your car payments and absorb the extra cost of that combination sun roof/tanning lamp/disco ball you've been coveting.Since you've probably been too busy trying to remember to write 1999 on your checks and scheduling your Advanced Macaroni Sculpting class around the upcoming cavalcade of awards shows to give this as much thought as you should, I'm going to make your life a little easier by providing a handy Guide to the New Millennium. Just follow these few short rules and you'll find yourself talking like the pros and impressing your friends. Well, the ones who aren't already holed up in a fallout shelter eating C-rations and counting down the days until the year 2000.- First, it's good to know that millennium means thousand years. It comes from the Greek mill ("thousand") and ennium ("feels like it will never end"). Contrary to the way most people spell it, there are two L's and two N's in the word. You can remember this by using a simple mnemonic device: a spellchecker. The reason we're celebrating the millennium is simple: our lives have become so mundane and meaningless that we'll do anything to get drunk and forget that the Official TV Season of the Millennium will just as lame as this year's.- While it's not required that you buy Official Products of the Millennium, it's a good idea, since it will show people that you have pride and optimism in the dawning of the New Age. And are a sucker for any lame-ass advertising gimmick someone can dream up while talking on a cell phone aboard their 100-foot yacht. It won't be hard to find these products. Trademarks have already been issued for Miller Beer ("The Official Sponsor of the Millennium"), United Airlines ("The Official Airline of the Millennium"), Uncle Ben's ("The Official Food of the Millennium"), and enough others to fill your cupboard, which come to think of it may be a good idea in case your supermarket's electric doors stop working on January 1st. If you want to get in on the fun, hire a lawyer and apply to make yourself the Official [your name here] of the New Millennium. After all, if you're like most people you've always dreamed of putting an after your name.- Use the word millennium as often as possible, preferably at least once in every sentence. Get into the habit now, since it will soon be mandatory -- as of January 1st millennium is The Official Word of the Millennium. That's why every news show, magazine, and newspaper has made it a grammatically required part of speech, right alongside nouns, verbs, and those other things your third grade English teacher tried to drum into your head while you were carving your initials into the kid in front of you. To get in the swing of this, try saying, "Coming up next, millennium makeovers for a better you", "I'll have another Official Slim Jim of the Millennium, please", and "I know the new millennium doesn't really start until January 1st, 2001, but I'm so tired of partying like it's 1999 that I just can't wait."- Have lengthy discussions about the Y2K problem. It's fun, it's educational, and it's better than openly discussing your emotions, especially if you're a guy. Choose a side and stick to it -- it's equally as fun to claim the world will end in a fiery blaze with the antichrist arriving in the form of Richard Simmons' straight brother as it is to smugly declare that even though a few computers will have a problem, it's not important because you know a guy who says he can access AOL's chat rooms on an abacus.- Even though experts say there won't be any major disasters at the start of the new year, just to be safe turn off all electronic equipment on New Year's Eve, including watches, computers, pagers, and pacemakers. On the other hand, electric blankets, 4-track quad tape players, and electric fondue pots should be okay, so you can rest easy knowing you won't go hungry, be cold, or have to live in silence.- If you do stockpile food because you believe everything you read on the Net, make sure it's food that won't go bad, like bottled water, Spam, Cheet-os, and those cheap American cheese slices that don't melt. - Go around asking people "Why 2K?". This will never fail to get a laugh, especially from those who are tired of that old joke, "Why is the Fourth of July?".- Finally, if all this sounds like more trouble than it's worth, you can avoid the millennium completely by becoming Chinese or Jewish. Their calendars will be hitting 4697 and 5760, so their computers will work fine. Sure you'll have to learn to eat with chopsticks or wear a yarmulke, but that's a small price to pay to avoid the problem entirely. Just think of them as the Official Way Out of the Millennium.

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