Issue number 44 September 23, 2002
Quorum of One is intended for adult readers
News From a Parallel Universe
Dispatches that obviously couldn't have come from this Earth
Viagra-soap spill spawns no mirth
Late last Thursday, a truck hauling 5,000 cartons of the well-known anti-impotence drug Viagra skidded out of control on a commercial strip outside the Oklahoma Panhandle town of Hooker and collided with a tank truck hauling liquid soap. The force of the impact unmoored the elongated, cigar-shaped tank of the soap truck and propelled it across a parking lot, where it shot through a honeysuckle bush and slammed straight-on into the wall of a topless club called "Delta Pie". The tank ruptured, spraying thousands of gallons of milky, translucent liquid all over the side of the building, which is painted with a mural advertising the club's attractions accompanied by the slogan "Get you a piece!" The soap truck was owned by the household supplies e-tail company Netergent.com, whose name was emblazoned on the flesh-colored tank and still plainly visible after the accident. No one was injured, although material damage and clean-up costs were initially estimated at $35,000.
What is remarkable about the incident is that of the several hundred people at the scene, including the drivers, police, tow-truck operators, insurance adjusters and scores of onlookers, not one single person attempted to make a joke about it. "I just don't see anything funny here," commented one witness. "Someone could have been hurt."
Demonstrators disband after recognizing their own tackiness
Anti-globalization protesters at the site of the recent World Trade Organization conference in Atlanta spontaneously disbanded in the middle of a confrontation with the police last Thursday, apparently in reaction to the sudden realization of how ridiculous they looked and sounded. As a police sergeant who was on duty recounted, "The march started at about ten in the morning when about two thousand young people carrying banners and hand-made signs, with their faces painted and their clothes and headbands covered with buttons and badges and so forth, started down the street shouting slogans. First they chanted:
'1, 2, 3, 4!
Exploitation? Stop! No more!'
"Then about halfway to where we had taken up our positions, they switched to:
'THE third WORLD needs MORE mo-NEY!'
'Apples, peaches, plums and melons!
The WTO is just a big bunch of felons!'
"By this time they were pretty close to where we'd been ordered to contain the crowd," continued the sergeant, "and they were passing between two of those modern buildings with all-glass facades. At that point they could see their reflections very clearly in the walls beside them and their voices were echoed back because of the peculiar acoustics on that block. Gradually, they started walking slower and slower, and looking at themselves in the glass. The chanting sort of died out, and then one of the leaders up front gave a signal and they all stopped and just stood around for a while. Four or five leaders seemed to be holding a quick conference for a couple of minutes, and then they took off again, but going back the way they came from, chanting:
'Loafers, sneakers, boots and brogans!
Someone give us smarter slogans!'
"And taking off their headbands and throwing away their signs. That's the last we saw of them. Apparently they just went to the bus stations and airports and went home."
"Sock Mystery" remains unexplained after nearly 100 years
Scientists are still at a loss to explain the well-known "sock" enigma. As everyone knows, electrical washing machines seem to "spontaneously generate" socks, both men's and women's, of all sizes and descriptions. The phenomenon dates from the introduction of electrical appliances in the early 1890s and continues to this day. No satisfactory scientific explanation has ever been offered, and in spite of the efforts of scores of researchers and technicians, the socks just keep on appearing in virtually everyone's washing machines, including new models that have never been used before. When the phenomenon was first reported in the 1920s, the textiles industry feared a downturn in its business volume, but this did not occur, primarily because the only garments that ever "magically" appear in this way are single, mateless socks -- useless except possibly for polishing shoes and silver. "It makes you wonder where the other halves of all those pairs are!" exclaimed one mystified researcher.
Singles bar patron fails to mention celeb relative
A bartender at Lynx, a popular singles bar in Lower Manhattan, tipped off reporters to an unusual occurrence last Thursday night. It seems that a handsome, well-dressed young man hung out at the bar chatting with women patrons for a full six hours without once mentioning the fact that he is Bruce Springsteen's cousin. According to the bartender, the apparently well-to-do young man struck up conversations with five attractive young women in the course of the evening and spoke with each for a period ranging from eleven to thirty-four minutes, but neglected in each case to "work into the conversation" the fact that he is a close blood relative of a major pop star. In a statement to This Publication, the young man, who asked not to be identified, explained, "I don't know, it just didn't cross my mind. To tell the truth, I don't know Bruce that well. I mean we saw each other at family gatherings when we were kids, but that's like 30 years ago and my side of the family sort of lost touch with his since then. So why bother to mention it?" One of the women he met in the bar that night commented, "Yeah, I remember him -- he was a nice guy. I enjoyed talking to him. Fact is, though, I don't really like Springsteen's music very much, and of course there's no reason to be impressed with fame just for fame's sake, let alone 'second-hand' fame like being some aging rocker's estranged cousin, so I would have to say that if he had mentioned it, it would have made no difference to me whatsoever."
Study reveals Americans' changing attitudes on dating
A newly-published sociological study based on interviews with more than 25,000 single heterosexual American women and men has provided new insights into their attitudes on relationships and dating and how those attitudes have changed in recent years. Covering a representative sample of American society and cross-checked for scientific and statistical accuracy, the project by the Bonisse-Tiffwood research foundation revealed that many long-held tenets and expectations about relations with the opposite sex no longer hold true. For example, most American women now consider the idea that a man is honor-bound in every case to call a woman he has dated within a few days after the date to be unreasonable and unnecessary. "What do you expect?" commented one woman. "There are a hundred reasons why a guy might not want to go out with you again. What's he supposed to do, call and say 'Hi! I'm calling to let you know that I'm not going to be calling you any more!'?" Another woman added, "What about guys we go out with once and really don't want to see again, for whatever reason? Are we supposed to be pissed off if they don't call us? Like just so we can turn them down?"
In an equally surprising development, the men in the survey reported that they find making lewd, swinish comments about women in the presence of other males or accosting women with crude, overly-aggressive pickup lines to be "unacceptable behavior". "How would we like it if women yelled 'Hey baby, show us your filberts!' every time we walked by a manicure salon?" asked one respondent. "Everyone needs to be treated with a minimum of respect, and the least we can do is keep our hormone-crazed commentary to ourselves." On the subject of pickup lines, the women's point of view is changing as well. The vast majority (96%) of the women in the survey reported that they sympathize with men who are perhaps shy or socially awkward but otherwise nice guys and who nonetheless have to assume the responsibility of making the first move. "Let's not be too hard on men," commented one female interviewee. "If we expect them to take the initiative then we can't really complain if they come off sounding kind of dumb sometimes. Besides, there are so many criteria that ultimately determine whether a couple is going to be happy together or not, why focus so much attention on one relatively insignificant detail?" Another woman added, "It's not as though we'd all be ecstatic if no man ever came on to us again for the rest of our lives." Of the 4% of women who still complain about the quality of men's pickup lines, all of them proved in a supplementary test to be able, on a second's notice, to come up with at least two original, witty, engaging and congenial-sounding conversation openers for every single line by a man that they considered to be a failure.
Gender gap closes
Another section of the report reveals a newfound area of agreement between the two sexes on one important dating issue. Nearly all of the respondents in the study indicated that they adhere to a more-or-less formal "rule" for determining when they will agree to have sex with a new potential lover. 87% of the interviewees wait until after a predetermined minimum number of dates, the average of which was 3.5 for both genders. "You want to really get to know someone first, you know?" explained one man. "Find out if you get along and have things in common. And I guess women especially want to make sure a guy's not some kind of deluded ego-tripper who could turn into a stalker." This contrasts with the results of previous similar studies conducted in 1975, 1982 and 1994, in which the women's average minimum number of dates before having sex was four to six, while men insisted on dating a woman an average of "never" to "once". In this most recent study, when asked if they have ever violated their principles with a particularly attractive date, 98% of both men and women answered "No, of course not! Are you crazy?"
Next week in "News From a Parallel Universe":
Al Sharpton expresses doubts about O.J. Simpson's innocence
Amazon.com posts healthy profit for fifth consecutive year
President Gore announces breakthrough in trade talks with Iraq
George W. Bush retires from public life
Disgraced former governor and presidential hopeful apologizes for political and financial cronyism that is "inimical to a democratic society"
George W. Bush uses "inimical" correctly in well-constructed extemporaneous sentence
¨©2002 by David Jaggard