Jewish World Review Sept. 17, 2002 / 11 Tishrei, 5762

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! | If, after work today, you get the urge to destroy a nuclear missile, take great care not to scrape the sides when you lift it from its hardened, underground silo.

Or, if breaking into Fort Knox is more your style, be advised that you will need several Holstein cows and a minimum of 24 bales of hay.

This is just a small sample of the useful advice offered in Hunter S. Fulghum's book, "Don't Try This At Home." The author also explains the proper way to wrestle and win a sumo match, go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and break into Buckingham Palace.

Fulghum's indisputable premise is that people today are stupider than they have ever been in the past. They are willing to try anything, as is evidenced by the popularity of "reality" TV shows like "Fear Factor."

"If the average man or woman will leap off a bridge tied to a bungee cord, what else might he or she consider trying -- assuming the proper instruction was provided?" Fulghum asks.

Well, they might consider trying to catch a great white shark, "borrow" the Mona Lisa or rappel off the Eiffel Tower. To help people accomplish these deeds, Fulghum offers step-by-step instructions plus a list of materials they will need. (For example, to smuggle top-secret documents, you will need, among other things, a camera, a Seattle Mariners ballcap and two Boy Scouts, one from each side of the American-Canadian border.)

Being a timid sort, I have little interest in knowing how to drive a tank through a tornado, defuse a human bomb or put out an oil-well fire. I was, however, very interested in Fulghum's instructions on how to form an independent nation. It's hard to say what I find more appealing: the prospect of naming myself president-for-life or the possibility of soaking the United States for millions in foreign aid. Either way, there are several ways that you can go about it, ranging from inciting a revolution to barging great quantities of dirt to a shallow place in the ocean.

Once you have formed your independent nation (buying a chunk of someone else's country is probably the best way to go), you will need to create a government. Fulghum leans toward a constitutional monarchy, but then again he is also a person who fantasizes about breaking into Buckingham Palace and short-sheeting Prince Charles' bed. I do, however, agree with him that the new constitution should be written as carefully as possible to avoid a proliferation of lawyers down the road.

After you've established your independent nation and written its constitution, about all that's left to be done is to designate a national tree, bird, insect, barbecue style, etc. and write a national anthem. To make that last part easier, try to give your country a names that rhymes with lots of common words. That means you want to stay away from names like Kyrgyzstan and lean more toward something like Bassoon. (Oh, fair Bassoon/Founded in June/Under a moon/That looked like a spoon.)

If you get bored being president-for-life of a country formed from barged-in potting soil, you can always undertake a new adventure, like towing an iceberg to a drought-stricken nation.

Just don't forget to pack some duct tape.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


09/06/02: Come listen to a story about a man named ... Bill
09/03/02: You're not in preschool anymore!
08/30/02: A charming idea from a brutal, whacked-out, megalomaniacal dictator-for-life
08/26/02: Blubber water? How to put on the pounds by gulping H20
08/21/02: The latest evidence that Mother Nature is out to kill us
08/13/02: Computers, airplanes and Canada don't mix
08/06/02: The sky's not falling? Dang it!
08/02/02: Some fond memories of worst TV shows
07/30/02: Pay my credit-card bill, please?
07/25/02: Something to celebrate
07/22/02: Baseball needs to ban the fans
07/16/02: Hasbro should consider new inaction figure
07/11/02: Decline in trash-talking is harming our mental health? Well, #@%&!
07/08/02 Americans retain right to fork tongues
07/01/02 These laws were made to be broken
06/18/02 Watching enough commercials?
06/03/02 Throwing your vote to the dogs
05/08/02 Hey, Mom, could you spare a dime?: Parents' obligations unending

© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune