Things to Leave Behind in the New Millennium 

Imagine the surly customs agent at the gate of the New Millennium. He's impatient and unhappy trying to get by on millennium wage. He's like a security guard except that he has no mustache. Mustaches will no longer be allowed in the unforgiving future. Hair gel, however, will be compulsory. Sure, you'll be permitted to bring a few things across the line, like your tattoos, face metal and bypass scars. They've been grandfathered in. But that cowboy hat? Forget it. Mustaches and cowboy hats will have no meaning in times to come, and worse, they'll be out of style.

I've been madly discarding long-unexamined hallucinations, misgivings, and vinyl LPs. I know that customs agent will send us boomers to a holding area to consolidate our baggage. And we've got plenty of baggage. You see, there won't be any room in the new age for the New Age. In fact, there won't be any room for old cynics either. However, irony will be duty-free, which is probably why there is so much of it these days.

Christian values, utopian ideals and nihilistic abandon may make it through the custom agent's intimidating array of scanning devices, if concealed by middle-age fat. But all those whiz kid millionaires will have to leave their smugness behind lest it be contaminated by the self-doubt of us boomers. The breezy technocrat, raised on hacky sack and suckled on Starbucks, will find the lug nut of middle age in his cappuccino shortly after passing through the millennial gate. If he's careless, nostalgia will render him irrelevant.

Kids will have to lose extreme sports gear, the floppy pants, the Hitler Youth haircuts, and the puffed coats. But don't worry: friendly cool people with MBAs are waiting on the other side with towering inventories of shiny new cutting-edge crap to sell. In fact, the new look they've been planning will have young people completely tricked out like the Bowery Boys in Blade Runner drag. Wait a minute, that's this year's look! Anyway, relax. The market research people will come up with something appropriately inappropriate by Jan. 1.

As for you fringe dwellers, separatists and Armageddon freaks: Sorry. The guy without the mustache won't allow your arsenals to pass, but he will permit you to drag along your goofy ideas about race-mixing and Old Testament wrath. His employers are mostly off-white themselves and may want to keep you around as a novelty act. Or for genetic research.

By now, I hope you suspect that the apparatus of the next century is already running, fully booted up and waiting for you like one of Bill Gates' top-secret robot servants. At least that's "the sell" you'll get from the people whose business it is to make you believe they determine the future. You know, that information and commerce will make us all free and rich and ready for some kind of century-long hobby.

What should you do when your turn comes to pass through CheckPoint.com? Fret your way across, sweaty hands blurring the ink on your tightly held actuarial table? Or will you simply step across into the fresh-fallen January snow and run like hell? Either way, you'll need to lighten your load.

P.S. Mueller is our favorite cartoonist, hands down, a wise-ass guy who keeps us laughing and, more importantly, keeps us thinking.


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