This week, I want you all to pause for a moment to take pity on the poor humor columnist.
It's tough making a living in humor columns these days. Not, as you might think, because these are anxious times. No, it's because it's hard to compete in the funny business when there are so many strange, real life things going on.
For example, in the US this week, government officials (apparently quite seriously) suggested that if citizens were alarmed about a potential bioterror attack they could protect themselves by sealing up a room in their house with plastic wrap and duct tape. I can only assume they said this because:
A) Hardware store grade plastic, which has never managed to keep my lawn tractor dry two weeks running during the winter, has suddenly been proven to provide an airtight and germ proof seal.
B) Someone in the US government read from the 1950s Nuclear Preparedness For Citizens manual, which advised hiding under a desk in the event of an attack or
C) Someone close to the US government has lots of money in a duct tape manufacturing company.
So, since I can't be a humor columnist this week, I'm going to revert to being In the Media. As everyone knows, everyone In The Media swears a solemn oath when they take up the post to: “Scare, frighten and terrify the general populace, on a daily, if not hourly basis, with dangers they hadn't even thought of.”
For instance, as if scooters, bicycle messengers and rollerblading pedestrians weren't enough to worry about on the road, now you also have to watch out for hamsters. In a widely reported incident near Blackpool in England, police recently apprehended a furry critter taking a hamster wheel powered car down the highway.
It was not an easy arrest either. After being taken into custody, the hamster tried to escape several times by driving it's car off the arresting officers desk. “I guess you could say it was a case of rodent rage,” said an official.
Meanwhile picnic lovers from the Italian Riviera right up to northwest Spain were terrified by the announcement that scientists had discovered a 5000 kilometer long `supercolony' of ants. Neighboring colonies of ants usually fight each other to the death, but these ants have joined forces to wipe out other local insect species. There have also been reports of entire sandwich shops disappearing overnight. “It's terrible,” said one local resident, commenting on the recent increase in insecticides and thefts. “They're a bunch of miscreants.”
Lest you think all the danger is overseas, let me warn you about the danger that could lurk in your very own home. Paul Henson, 28, an aficionado of house plants, was nearly done in by an exploding cactus. The plant apparently spontaneously combusted, set several other plants on fire, and the resulting heat melted part of his conservatory. `It was very scary, let me tell you,' Henson reportedly said. `We're a bit worried about the other cacti now. On pins and needles, in fact.”
And finally, perhaps most frightening of all, a Norwegian company has recently announced that it's on the verge of being able to produce the world's first fish salami.
Look, I don't have to explain why fish salami is a scary thought, do I? In any case, the company hasn't explained why it thinks the world needs this sort of sausage, except of course to use up all the bits of fish that should probably be left to the ants. It did say, however, that the primary market for fish salami would probably be, well, Finland.
Well, okay, there might be a market it for it here in North America. But only if it comes wrapped in plastic.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.