Universal Battle of the Bulge
by Mad Dog
will shrug off their post-holiday poundage by saying, “Hey, if it’s
okay for our planet it’s okay for me.” I’d like to hear them use
that excuse when their faces erupt.
||There’s no nice way to
put this, but the Earth is getting fat. It’s thick around the middle.
Putting on a spare tire. Yes, as much as we don’t want to admit it,
Mother Earth is getting dumpy. This could just be a symptom of
age—after all, the planet is 4.5 billion years old which, while still
younger than Strom Thurmond, is considered by most experts to be
galactic middle age—but according to scientists that’s not the case.
They say it’s happening because glaciers are melting and the resulting
water has raised the level of the oceans at the equator. This, of
course, has been Earth’s excuse all along—“It’s just water
weight”—but we pooh-poohed it and shamed it into spending countless
years bouncing from Atkins to The Zone to Weight Watchers to the
Incredible Hollywood Grapefruit Diet until it out-Oprahed Oprah. I think
we all owe Earth an apology. Well, for this and the lousy way we treat
it in general. I mean really, do any of us think polluting the water,
cutting down the rain forests, and driving gunk-spewing SUVs are ways of
saying “Thank you for being here so we don’t fly out into space
where we’ll die because there’s no oxygen to breathe”?
The study, published in the journal Science
(motto: “Better than Sominex”), claims the glaciers are melting
because of the El Niño of 1997-98, which if you remember was also blamed for
everything from hurricanes to volcanic eruptions to the French winning
the World Cup. As recently as six months ago scientists were predicting
a new El Niño was in
the works but we haven’t heard much about it since. Apparently it’s
history. After all, who needs a scapegoat like El Niño
when we have the al-Qaeda, bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein?
percent of the high school students surveyed admitted they had lied to
their parents and 83 percent had lied to their teacher, yet for some
reason the researchers are still under the impression that the kids told
them the truth.
When news gets around about our planetary bulge there’s going
to be trouble. People everywhere will shrug off their post-holiday
poundage by saying, “Hey, if it’s okay for our planet it’s okay
for me.” I’d like to hear them use that excuse when their faces
erupt, their brains fill with fog, and their gas reserves are unleashed
in mixed company. Face it, the last thing we need is another excuse for
being overweight. As it is, one-third of the adults in this country are
overweight. One out of every eight children are too. In California, the
supposed health capital of the country and actual doughnut shop capital,
77 percent of the fifth- through ninth-graders failed aerobic, strength,
and body fat tests last year. And most of them swear they studied hard
for it and did all the homework.
Of course that could be part of the
problem—kids swear too much. Well, that and they lie too often.
Recently the Josephson Institute of Ethics (motto: “So that’s not
our real name, big deal”) released their Report Card 2002: The
Ethics of American Youth which revealed that 93 percent of the high
school students surveyed admitted they had lied to their parents and 83
percent had lied to their teacher, yet for some reason the people at
Josephson are still under the impression that the kids told them the
truth. Not only that, it turns out 74 percent of the students admitted
to cheating, which also helps explain why they did so poorly on the
aerobic, strength, and body fat tests—if you’re going to copy the
kid who’s trying to do push-ups next to you, you’d better make sure
he doesn’t look like Mother Earth after an El Niño meltdown.
One day he too
might be middle-aged like Mother Earth and have to worry about fighting
creeping midriff bulge. And he won’t have El Niño,
a bad education system, or Saddam Hussein to blame it on.
It would probably help if children had role models who didn’t
bulge in the middle like Barney, Homer Simpson, Porky the Pig, and Santa
Claus. Then maybe when you ask them what they want to be when they grow
up they won’t say, “Rosie,” which is particularly painful when
it’s your son telling you that. Of course it could be worse, they
could follow in the footsteps of Michael Wong-Sasso of Los Angeles, a
7-year-old who wants to be a trash collector when he grows up. He’s so
dedicated to this career that he follows garbage trucks as they drive
along their route, checks out the contents of trash cans on the street,
and even had his birthday party at the Sunshine Canyon Landfill.
Seriously. He and 40 friends spent the day frolicking with toy
earthmovers, making animals from recycled materials, and talking trash.
They also tried not to say, “Gee, this place is a real dump” more
than once every four minutes but you know what little self-control
Actually it’s good that there are
children like Michael who are interested in helping keep the Earth clean
and neat. Not to mention getting exercise in the process. After all, one
day he too might be middle-aged like Mother Earth and have to worry
about fighting creeping midriff bulge. And he won’t have El Niño,
a bad education system, or Saddam Hussein to blame it on. Hopefully. But
he’ll still have doughnuts. Yeah, that’s it. It’s the doughnuts.
©2002 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them, then recycle them. I do.