Celestial selling

Oct 20, 1999 at 12:00 am

Against my better judgment, I’ve been watching the television news and reading the daily papers. Also against my better judgment, I’ve been sharing bits of the information I glean with the Lizard of Fun, who cringes with each mention of Hillary Clinton, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

"That’s it," declares the Lizard. "I’m sick of this world. There’s just not enough fun going on anymore."

I shrug. "What do you propose to do about it? Run for office? Get amazingly drunk?"

The Lizard grins. "I’m gonna buy me a piece of the moon. Start over again on fresh turf."

Humoring the Lizard, I nod. "The moon, eh? I heard a news item about this company that wants to get people to pay to have their favorite songs, or movies, or whatever, put on a CD-ROM and sent to the moon."

"Ah, yes," says the Lizard. "And assuming that the hapless extraterrestrial being who finds it has access to a 1999-model CD-ROM player, they’ll be able to discover what people found important enough to memorialize. Unfortunately, it’ll probably be a collection of Celine Dion songs and ‘South Park’ potty jokes."

"That’s not what you were thinking of?"

The Lizard looks at me, annoyed. "Just work with me on this, willya? You know how people used to think that by 1999 we’d all be living on the moon? Well, the reason that’s been held up is because people like you keep poking holes in brilliant scams."

"You mean brilliant schemes?"

"Shush up and listen. I’ve found a perfect purchasing opportunity."

The Lizard points me to a Web site called the Moon Shop. There, the Lunar Embassy, a company based in Rio Vista, Calif. ("Lunatic-friendly territory, I hear," says the Lizard), is selling real estate on the moon. Packages of 1,777 acres cost $15.99, plus $10 shipping and handling (go figure), which is even more of a bargain than any prime vacant lot in Detroit.

"Kinda cheapens the phrase ‘I’ll buy you the moon,’ doesn’t it?" I say.

"Whatever, whatever," shrugs the Lizard. "The point is, we can buy it up, and then, once we own all the property rights, we can start our own society from scratch."

"Whose scratch?"

"Well, I’m working on that. Corporate sponsors, mostly. I’m thinking maybe Bill Gates might want to finance the first colonization of Lizardworld."

"I thought he already owned the moon."

"No, Dennis Hope does, apparently. Or most of it, anyway. He’s the one who started the Lunar Embassy."

Apparently, when the United Nations declared that no country could hold rights to property in outer space, they didn’t consider that individuals might want to stake their claims. Which is what Hope did, in 1980. Since then, he claims to have sold more than 35,500 parcels of lunar real estate, all on prime property on the light side of the moon, all with a clear view of the Earth.

Not that he’s been there to check. This doesn’t bother the Lizard, who’s lathering itself into a shopping frenzy. "You see, we gotta hurry," it says. "Eventually, it’s going to sell out!"

"So, who’s gonna start this new society with you?" I ask, "besides, of course, your boundless numbers of adoring fans and other misfit recruits?"

"That’s the thing. We need to get all the cool people in the world to buy up the rest of the property, quick, before the Jerry Falwells and George W. Bushes of the world get on board."

With such a low price, I point out, it should be easy to convince even our most perpetually broke friends to buy lunar real estate.

"Great!" says the Lizard. "We’ll have a guaranteed cool factor built into the population’s DNA. Not to mention a lot of people who owe us favors."

"Just one problem," I point out. "We’re gonna run into trouble with the transportation issue."

"You mean Northwest isn’t planning a twice-daily shuttle?"

"I don’t think so."

"What about ProAir?"

"Um …"

The Lizard looks despondent. "Awww, jeez. Our one big chance for a really new and original society, not to mention one huge bargain, and the only ones who will be able to take advantage of it will be really, really rich people who have access to their own private jets."

I try to comfort the Lizard with some extremely green cheese I dig out of the back of the refrigerator, but it’s not soothed.

"I can see it now," it moans. "It’ll be like the MGM Grand Casino, but with more celebrities."

"It could be worse," I say. "It could be bought up by Coke, and turned into one big logo."

"Yeah," says the Lizard. "Or it could end up paved with strip malls, fast food outlets and a million JonBenet Ramsey clones. Tourists will go there and make up stories about being mugged by phaser-toting thugs with six arms and one eye."

"Not to mention," I say, eyeing the Lizard, "little green guys with beer guts and long tails."