Sometimes, when I'm driving and have lots of time to let my mind wander because it's too dangerous to talk on the cell phone and I don't want to burn myself yet again with a Pop-Tart from my unwieldy mobile toaster, I like to wonder "what if?"
What if, for example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wasn't telling us the whole story last week when it predicted that between eight and 14 tropical storms would strengthen into hurricanes this summer on our Atlantic and Gulf coasts?
What if a natural disaster such as a hurricane meets up with a man-made disaster such as the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? What if a Katrina-like storm shoves the largest oil spill in our nation's history across the countryside?
Pushing the oil slick across dry land might alleviate the suffering in the Gulf, which certainly needs relief, but what would that do to the Southeast and then the North?
Imagine, if you will, a slimy, messy hurricane; Igor is on the list of names for the 2010 season, so let's stick with that. Visualize Hurricane Igor spraying the countryside with WD-40.
The first result would be a dramatic increase in shampoo sales, but think beyond your hairdo for a minute.
What if this airborne oil slick attached itself to every building, every tree, every highway and parking lot, not to mention every pond, river and lake?
What if a large part of our nation, suddenly as slick as Michael Phelps swimming in 10W30, presented less friction to the winds? What if the planet's rotation sped up, shortening the days?
(Not just any days, mind you, but the days of summer, when we need them to be as long as possible to keep kids busy.)
What if, as Earth whirled, crops in other parts of the nation not coated with Igor's oil wilted and burned from the friction?
(Bear with me here; I'm driving 65 mph and could really use a Pop-Tart.)
What if one of those crops were popcorn? What if the crazily spinning planet made all those kernels pop on the cobs before they could be harvested?
What if that popcorn, lost to the elements, couldn't be shipped to movie theaters across the United States? What if those theaters, suddenly without a top moneymaker, no longer could afford new movies?
What if, raking in less cash from cinemas, film studios failed, actors starved and Hollywood became a ghost town?
(What if George Bailey had never been born? No, that's another movie.)
Most important, what if I'm not able to sell this "what if" theory to those studios and they can't turn it into a summer blockbuster starring whoever the new Bruce Willis is these days?
What if I have wasted all my driving time thinking about this scenario and there's no chance Hurricane Igor will wreak its oily havoc? What if the world keeps on plodding along at normal speed - until it meets its Mayan doom in 2012, of course?
Why do bad things keep happening to me?
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