Big Problem

Here's next year's gift-giving issue

Never mind the gloom and doom, this year will be the biggest holiday season ever! Since the Y2K bug hit, there have been a lot of people out there moaning and crying for the good ol' days. Well, not us! Sure, we miss sewage treatment plants, airplanes, and cars that talked to you (remember those?) just as much as the next person. But the best things about Christmas and Hanukkah have nothing to do with computers. The holidays are a time to enjoy what we still have—family, friends, and rudimentary shelter. Maybe the catastrophic events of the preceding year are really a blessing, a reminder to focus on what's really important.

The breakdown of our technology-dependent civilization doesn't mean you still can't give great big wonderful presents, especially to the kids. What parent can forget the sight of their child's face lighting up, just like many buildings, street lamps, and traffic lights used to? Though many kids may still be upset over the complete meltdown of their computerized toys last January (video game withdrawal? tantrums so violent they resulted in blackouts, brain damage, and coma? WHO KNEW?), we have a delightful New Era treat that's sure to rouse them out of their sullen, Tamagotchi-deprived stupor.

As always, the emphasis is on "handmade." First bike out to Redmond, to the abandoned campus of Microsoft. Then make a torch and enter any building. Inside you'll find hundreds of computers, useless monuments to our old hustle-bustle, all-work-no-forage way of life.

After what he did to those kids on Halloween, I don't have to remind you to be on the lookout for crazy Old Man Gates. You can usually hear him screaming at his invisible employees from a long way away, which should give you ample time to escape with your monitor. (Of course if push comes to shove, DROP THE MONITOR. There are plenty of them around, and here at Seattle Weekly, each of our 847 remaining readers is precious.) Be careful to leave yourself enough time to get out of Redmond before the wolves come out.

Once you're home, rip out the monitor's useless electronic innards and fill that mocking cathode ray tube two-thirds full of sand. Add ants, and voil୭an ant farm, just like the one you had when you were a kid! If it's too cold for ants, use flies. (Here's a tip: Add raw meat, then wait.) Ants, flies, add 'em all—your kids will love it! Guaranteed.

For the adults on your list, a gift of firewood is always appreciated. If you start chopping and the owner of the property appears with a shotgun, apologize and move on. There are plenty of trees left (for now), and it always pays to be polite toward someone with a gun. (If the man acts aggressively and erratically, he may be suffering from "Catastrophic Media Loss," or CML. If you suspect CML, move slowly and deliberately, reciting a litany of celebrities in a soothing voice. This will lull and distract him so that you can escape.) When you're giving firewood, any residential street is just filled with the perfect present—and you couldn't say that before Y2K, now could you?

If you really want to make this a Christmas to remember, give the gift that keeps on giving: a chicken. One sturdy hen can provide enough protein for a family of two, if both of them move only when necessary and supplement their diet with grubs.

For you shameless romantics out there, nothing says "I hope you survive" like gasoline. It will be a symbol of your love—pulling warmth and light from a generator whirring in the night like an animal calling its mate, or leaping up to the stars on the end of a torch, accompanying your beloved on another nighttime canoe raid on Bainbridge Island.

And don't forget that other combustible, alcohol. After having declined somewhat in the sobriety-crazed '90s, alcohol has now reassumed its centuries-old role of boon companion to besieged humanity. Whether it's homemade corn likker or booty plucked from the charred remains of some long-abandoned gay bar on Capitol Hill, a gallon or two will transport you and your tribe back to the days when the phones worked, there was such a thing as Internet porn, and our future was bright.

Well, it's nearly dusk, and we've been told to finish this special issue and get to safety before the Subterraneans attack. We hope you've enjoyed our ideas, and remember: With a little ingenuity, and a lot of love and togetherness, this first—is that a helicopter? Oh my God! How could . . . Are the computers back up? THE COMPUTERS ARE BACK UP, FOLKS! WE'RE GOING TO SURVIVE! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Mike Gerber is a humorist living in New York City.

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