Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Tiny bubbles
make me feel fine

I'M not usually one to panic, but this Y2K deal is pretty scary. So about a month ago I set out to stock my house with everything I figured we would need to survive anything that the turn of the millennium might throw at us, which essentially worked out to three cases of champagne and one can of Spam.

When you can get Korbel for $9 a bottle and Chandon for $18, well, you'd look pretty stupid buying bottled water. I loaded up on the champagne because everyone said there would be a champagne shortage, and we all know how dangerous those can be. Bands of toughs roaming the neighborhood, ransacking liquor cabinets just to get their fix of Totts or, God forbid, Andre.

Most people don't realize that the French revolution came about because all the rich guys in the frilly outfits and powdered wigs were hogging all the champagne. Les Miserables is a French term which roughly translates to lice-infested louts who cannot obtain champagne.

I can safely mention my stash of bubbly because there is no real threat of roving bands of champagne thugs singling out my residence (even if they did read the afternoon newspaper). The shortage of New Year's champagne proved to be something of an inside-the-wine-industry joke because, not only are there gallons of champagne to be had, they can be had for less than I paid, which, if you know my sorry history of pogs, gold and silver investments, should have been predictable.

I'M guessing that by Friday night, stores will be chucking their excess Korbel into the parking lots and paying people to cart away the lesser swill. The streets of Honolulu will be running with champagne. Kids will be boogie-boarding in drainage ditches awash with champagne. Diamond Head will be filled to the rim with the stuff, like a big volcanic champagne flute, while the New Year laser light show dances off its flanks.

But I'm not bitter. I don't feel like I've been taken for a bubble bath. It's not like I bought 125,000 units of champagne, which, sadly, can't be said about my pog venture. What's a lousy three cases of champagne during a once-in-a-millennium crisis?

There are people buying thousands of dollars in freeze-dried food. There are people stocking their spare rooms with bottled water. If there is no major food distribution crisis at the turn of the year, these people are going to feel mighty silly staring at their $5 dollar packets of freeze-dried scrambled eggs for the next several decades. You gotta be really hungry to eat freeze-dried scrambled eggs. Historians discovered that members of the Donner Party decided to eat each other even though their wagons were filled with packets of freeze-dried scrambled eggs.

And what about the people who will be stuck with gallons and gallons of precious bottled water? It will just sit there unopened because, for what they paid for it, you just don't use it to wash your car or take a bath.

Champagne, however, just gets better and more valuable with age. If we don't knock off all of the champagne I've stored by Jan. 2, which frankly, seems extremely unlikely, I can sit back knowing that my investment will just grow with age. Heck, in a couple of years, those bottles of Korbel might be worth $10 or even $11 a pop. Or I could slap a little Year 2000 sticker on them and sell them on the Internet as collectibles.

The only question is: What am I going to do with all that Spam?

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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