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Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2003 / 18 Adar I, 5763

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

The fight for duct tape | I never realized that duct tape would play such an important role in my life.

I was in Weaver's Hardware Store in Georgetown, and apparently Mr. Weaver knew why I was there. Without saying a word, he pointed to a shelf that said, "DUCT TAPE."

There was only one roll left, and just as I grabbed for it a lady tried to wrestle it out of my hands.

"It's mine," she said. "I need it for homeland security."

"So do I. I need four gallons of water, a flashlight and duct tape. There is only so much duct tape to go around, and it is allotted by your value to the country, in case we are attacked."

I then asked, "What does your husband do?"

"He's a lawyer," she said.

"He's way down on the food chain. In time of war, lawyers don't count for much."

This got her angry and she continued to fight for the tape.

Finally Mr. Weaver came over and said, "What's going on?"

I said, "I saw the duct tape first and she's trying to grab it from me. Besides, her husband is a lawyer and I'm a newspaperman. Who gets the duct tape first?"

Weaver said, "I prefer not to get into that. I expect to get more tape in on Thursday. Can't one of you wait until then?"

"Suppose there's an attack tomorrow?" I said. "I won't have anything to cover the cracks in the doors and the windows."

A customer watching all this said, "You shouldn't panic. I remember during the Cuban Missile Crisis we were all told to build bomb shelters in our back yards. I put $50,000 into mine. We had Persian carpets, leather chairs, running water, a radio scanner and the complete recordings of Frank Sinatra.

"The real problem was that my wife and kids started to brag about it and pretty soon everyone in the neighborhood knew about our shelter. The people around us decided as long as we had such a nice bunker there was no reason for them to build theirs.

"During one scare, a dozen people showed up. When I wouldn't let them, in they started banging pots and pans. I brought out my shotgun and said I was going to shoot them. Fortunately the crisis was called off.

"I tell you this story because Americans act differently when the heat is on. This time it's a duct tape shortage. The next time it could be Aunt Jemima's pancake flour."

After hearing this story, I was ashamed of myself. I said to the lady, "Do you want the tape? We're going to need lawyers after the fighting stops."

"No," she said. "We are going to need newspapermen more than lawyers to tell us what mistakes we made. Here, take the tape."

The man who told us about his bomb shelter said, "If either of you don't want the duct tape, I'll take it."

I said, "I thought you didn't believe in civil defense anymore."

He replied, "Better safe than sorry."

Mr. Weaver said, "You have to pay cash for the tape. I am not accepting any charges in case the balloon goes up."

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Art Buchwald's latest book is "We'll Laugh again." To commnt on his column click here.

02/14/03: Losing your identity
02/05/03: Whose reality is it?
01/17/03: Foreign Affairs for Dummies
01/15/03: No-news stories
01/13/03: The last pill
01/08/03: Come fly with me
12/20/02: Snooping for America
12/13/02: Give 'til it hurts
12/06/02: Pre-nursery is rough
11/20/02: The Princess and the butler
11/15/02: Preaching democracy
11/04/02: The blame game
10/30/02: The threat of golf
10/11/02: The wives of Hidden Valley
10/04/02: Will the real Saddam stand up?
10/01/02: To shred or not to shred
09/20/02: Plea-bargaining crime
09/17/02: Jack and Jane
09/12/02: Signing books is half the fun
09/10/02: To lose one's center
09/05/02: Moot court
08/29/02: I spy-you-spy
08/27/02: No smoking --- I love you
08/23/02: Ashes to ashes
08/14/02: Wall Street good news
08/09/02: Things in my attic
08/01/02: Damage control
08/01/02: Another icon
07/30/02: Draft all the lawyers
07/25/02: House for rent
07/23/02: Doin' time
07/19/02: The loophole game
07/16/02: Money as a game
07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

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