BY DAVID H. HACKWORTH
January 4, 2000
"PHEW, WE MADE IT THROUGH"
Well, we're still here! No nuke plant meltdowns. No catastrophic
power stroke. No Chinese paratroopers raining from the sky. Russian
missiles stayed snug in their silos. Saddam Hussein and his big-bucks
buddy, Osama bin Laden, kept their bombs in their bags and their
bugs in their bottles. And all our toilets flushed.
The passing of the last day of the last year of this wild ride
of a century into the new millennium left me exhausted. My wife,
Eilhys, and I hit the rack at 9 p.m. after she indulged me by
helping me run through my end-of-the-world checklist one more
No way was I going to be part of more than a crowd of two on the
day so many experts were warning the sky might fall.
Popcorn and movies were it. We studied a double-feature matinee
-- "On the Beach" and "Dr. Strangelove" --
as if they were Army training films. That was all we could squeeze
in before putting the guard dogs through yet another precautionary
drill and barricading the fortress.
But for me sleep was fretful. I kept waking up every hour to see
if our canary was still alive, if the little red light was still
shining "on" from our television and to listen for the
phone -- 10 radio and two TV stations had me on standby to report
in case any bad stuff hit the fan.
Not sure what I could've reported on had the Y2K terrors descended
upon us, as I'd have been out of commo. I guess if someone got
through on the cell phone, I could've riffed on how I love the
smell of hot candle wax early in the morning and why the backup
generator won't be ready until the 7th. That might've been good
for two or three minutes.
The question now is what to do with 2,000 bottles of spring water,
20 cases of tuna, 400 pounds of rice and beans, 10 cases of Army-ration
MREs (Meals Refused by Ethiopians), a few thousand rounds of shotgun
ammo, a like number of batteries and a half-garage of pink candles
I got a deal on from a bankrupt restaurant.
Eilhys, with her infinitely cheery disposition when things are
most grim, suggested I open a roadside stand in front of the house
and flog the stuff at a discount. She pointed out that once the
generator was finally up and running, fueled by my new butane
gas tank, I'd be able to operate 24 hours a day, good weather
or bad. She kindly didn't mention that all was purchased with
most of the money we'd been saving to revisit our honeymoon place
in Fiesole, Italy.
I shot that idea down faster than Al Gore can say Tennessee. "Right!
Except that would take this town's planning commissions another
millennium to approve. First we'd have to get Larry-the-engineer
to do a study analyzing the impact on the environment. Then he'd
have to run it by Wetlands and all the other agencies, and 82
inspections, 20 grand and a couple years later, they'd say no."
Returning the cash -- the rest of our savings -- to the bank won't
be a problem. That is, when I find it. I swear I buried the swag
by the big rock next to the oak tree in the back yard. Ten holes
later, still no sign of the tin cans. The dogs are no help either.
They're so exhausted from the extra motivational training, they've
flat refused to double as sniffers to get me out of a serious
Eilhys doesn't buy my line that we're all victims of the past,
in spite of a most excellent excuse. After all, I had the five
Ps -- Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance -- beaten into
me by tough sergeants when I was a kid. So whenever there's a
threat, I've just got to get ready.
But all's not lost. I'm holding onto the 86 cases of whiskey just
in case Prohibition comes back. You can never tell. And in the
event the wrong Wunderkind presidential wannabe makes it to the
White House, I'll have something to numb what's left of my brain.
In the meantime, so far so good. But just in case, keep 500 bucks
handy and keep 5 yards.