Save the Planet

Unaplogetically by Tom Ziegler

Reglar Wiglar #2, 1994

The other night I was watching TV and this ad came on, well, it wasn't really an ad, it was more like one of those public service announcements they put on at three AM, sandwiched between the missing children reports, right after you've killed a twelve-pack of Old Style King Kans and all the stores are closed except for Land of a Thousand Liquors up on Belmont, but they charge $4.75 for a six-pack, and you just don't feel like embarking on a lengthy automobile excursion and facing the possibility of an accident—or worse yet—spending the night in jail.

So the only thing left to do is turn out all the lights, search the fridge for something that hasn't molded over yet and turn on the tube to some low-budget UHF station that shows B-Movies all night. I prefer the Lost Amazonians on Mars genre, but at that point in the evening, I'll settle for Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends Network.

Usually, the first station I hit is the one I watch until my eyeballs have crawled back into my head and my tongue has fixed itself to the roof of my mouth with a bond stronger than any adhesive you can get a the checkout counter at Piggly Wiggly.

Coincidentally enough, most of theses public service announcements are directed towards substance abusers. Who the hell else is going to be watching The Brain that Wouldn't Die at 3 AM? No doubt you've seen the one with the monkey that turns into the dude 'cause he did too much blow--that one freaks me out. This one, however, was one of those namby-pamby environmental public sevice announcements. Some ex-dirt-hippie-folk-singer was walking through a forest and telling me that Planet Earth was the only home we have, and that we all need to do something about all the bad things that are happening, and that we all have to work together to SAVE THE PLANET. That was the last thing I heard before the " National Anthem".

The next afternoon, I woke up. Usually I don't remember much the day after I get blotto, and I have to be reminded by the reception of a few angry phone calls. One thing I remembered, however, was that public service announcement. As I went through my everyday motions of watching TV and sleeping a little and hoping I sounded sick enough when I called my boss for the fifth time this month to tell him I just wasn't going to be able to make it in for work this morning. I kept seeing that ex-dirt-hippie-folk-singer in everything I did: I saw her love beads in my Lucky Charms; I saw her headband lying on top of a pile of dirty underwear; I saw her face in my toilet bowl when I peed.

Not only that, but that dippy little catch-phrase kept going through my head: SAVE THE PLANET, SAVE THE PLANET, SAVE THE PLANET. I guess it kind of struck a chord. The more I though about it the more it made sense, if some jack-off fucks up the Earth, where in the hell am I going to move?

So I thought to myself, maybe I just need to get up off my ass, turn my life a little for the better and DO SOMETHING. But what? What could one guy do? What could a mere cog in the machine, just another joe Six-Pack , just another sucker on the vine, do to SAVE THE PLANET?

Thinking about all this made me thirsty, so I opened the refrigerator, grabbed a Coors, (my favorite beer) and noticed a hissing noise coming from around back. I turned the fridge around. Peeyew--it sure smelled bad! I couldn't really see anything for all the green shit that was shooting out of a hole in the tubing. I ran around my apartment looking for something to plug the hole with and all I could find was the Green Peace t-shirt my sister had given me for Christmas. I wrapped it around the pipe and that seemed to help some. It still smelled bad, but at least the green shit stopped shooting out. Then I remembered that the whole time I was fixing the hole, I left the refrigerator door open. Dope, I thought, that's wasting energy. It's idiot stuff like that that's put us in the ecological predicament we're in today.

Fixing the fridge made me thirsty again, and hungry. Since the door was already open, I checked out what was inside. Nothing there but Coors, some leftover veal and an open can of tuna. Mmmmm, boy, Coors beer and tuna fish, one of my favorite combinations. I buy this one kid of tuna because it's cheap--my little niece Phyllis, who's real cute, told me once when I was fixing some sandwiches that my tuna wasn't dolphin safe. She said that some tuna fisherman catch the dolphins in their nets and kill them, and that I shouldn't eat that particular brand. I took a bite and said to her, "Phyllis, it tastes the same to me." Kids.

I popped open a cold one--it's taste as fresh as the Rockies, you know—started picking out the rest of the tuna—my Mom told me I shouldn't let it sit around like that, but I like it when it's a little randy—and I thought about just what I could do to save the planet, but you know, nothing came to mind.

While I was mulling this one over, I remembered that special project I'd been working on in the back yard. I went out back and sure enough that pile of old tires that I set fire to the week before had just about burned down. Mmmmmboy, nothing smells better on a crisp Autumn day than a pile 'o burning tires. Of course, I had a little trouble starting them up, but a can of Lysol and a lighter sure does wonders. I figured, if the government is so worried about where they're gonna get all the oil they need, why don't they just burn those old tires I see on the side of the interstate? When they burn they let off plenty of oil, which is why I do it. Then I thought, hey, there's something I can do to save the planet. I felt better as I tossed another tire on the smoldering pile.

My beer had gotten warm so I finished it and went inside to grab another one. I opened the door and it sure was hot in there. Whoops, I said to myself. I am such a dumb-ass sometimes--I had left the gas oven on all night. I went back to see what the temperature was, but I forgot that I busted the thermometer that used to hang on the wall. One night I was eating crackers and aerosol cheese, when this fly kept on buzzing around. He landed on the TV, right in front of Burt Convey's face. I threw the can of cheese at the little bastard, but it missed and hit the thermometer. The can exploded and cheese went everywhere. The thermometer fell to the floor and broke. It was kind of fun playing with the mercury for a while, trying to squish it between my fingers and never being able to. That got boring after awhile though, so I rinsed it down the drain. I never cleaned up the cheese, but the roaches seem to be taking care of that. Anyway, let's just say it was really hot in there. I went over to the window-mounted air conditioner that my grandparents gave me (they bought it over forty years ago, but I think it works just fine even though it makes a lot of noise and, like my refrigerator, leaks an awful lot of green shit). I turned the dial on the air conditioner all they way down to sixty. In no time at all, it was nice and cool in my apartment.

Then I popped the veal into the microwave and heard this sound coming out like it was about to explode. My grandparents gave me the micro too, but it's only about twenty years old. I popped the bunjie cord that holds the door shut and smoke rolled out. I guess I left a fork in the veal, whoops.

About that same time my friend Buzzy called me on the phone. He was about to change the oil on his car and he wanted to know if I wanted to come over and watch. Buzzy's kind of weird, he has a steel plate in his forehead from Vietnam and he likes to stick refrigerator magnets on it, but he's good people. I said, sure thing I'd be right over. I needed to let the smoke clear from my apartment anyway. I went to the fridge, grabbed the rest of the Coors for the ride and went outside to my car. She's a Monte Carlo, a real cherry. I hopped in and turned 'er over. Man, that motor just purrs like a kitten, especially since I took the catalytic converter off. I didn't like the way it made the exhaust smell. I revved the motor a few times to warm it up—hell, I revved it about twenty times—real loud. My neighbor, Larry the Fairy, came running out to yell at me again but I flipped him the bird and peeled out.

On the way over I was thinking again. I opened a beer to facilitate the process. I had already made one step toward saving the planet, but what was next? Then what the ex-dirt-hippie-folk singer said came back to me, if we all work together we could save the planet. One guy couldn't save the whole damn thing by himself, but he could work on his own little section. I was so excited, I almost didn't see that school bus full of small children in front of me. Well, they don't call 'em bumpers for nothing, I suppose. After I gave the bus driver twenty dollars to shut the hell up, I opened another beer and drove around a little to relax. I like to drink and drive. I don't care what they say, alcohol makes me a better driver. I figure it makes me concentrate harder. Anyway, there's nothing like a high-speed run through a hospital zone to get the old blood flowing.

So I figured I could work on saving my own little section of the planet starting with my car. It sure was messy. I rolled down the window and started pitching stuff out, old beer cans, styrofoam burger containers, empty bottles, dead cans of Fix-a-Flat; just about everything.

As I was cleaning up my little section of the planet, I heard someone honking their horn. I looked in the rearview mirror and some asshole was behind me, waving his fist and shouting. I grabbed an old Mountain Dew bottle and lobbed it over my roof, aiming for his windshield. The bottle fell short and smashed in front of his right front tire. It popped and he went skidding off the road. I flipped him off, opened another beer and I noticed how clean my car looked.

When I got to Buzzy's, he had already pulled the plug on his oil pan. The oil was running down the driveway and collecting in a hole he had dug at the end. Buzzy likes the way the oil makes a rainbow on top of the puddle when it rains. I gave him a beer and told him about my plan to save the planet, and I asked for his help. Buzzy told me I was full of shit, so I hit him hard in the teeth with a wrench. He apologized, got his tank of nitrous oxide and a baseball bat and we drove around the rest of the day knocking mailboxes off their posts.

When I got home that night, the whole apartment smelled horrible and right away I knew it was my refrigerator. I went to the Piggly Wiggly, got myself a styrofoam cooler, a case of beer and a bag of ice, went back home, ate the rest of the veal, put the beer in the cooler and unplugged the fridge. I tuned on the TV and thought about what I had done that day. I felt warm inside. I opened another beer and thought, tomorrow I'll put that refrigerator in the alley for the kids to play in.

More by Tom Ziegler

Zima with a 'Z'
How to be a Smart-Ass
Psychologically Unfit
Making the Least of Your Time



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