Interesting — despite our country being so high-tech — how U.S.

remain trapped in

era, the mechanical, moral — and oral — equivalent of the Stone Age. Yet not everyone in the country was hanging on the fate of every hanging chad. Why, incredibly enough, one Hollywood friend of mine didn’t even know what a chad was — he actually thought I meant that North African nation with the red, yellow and blue flag. Which means he knew less than nothing about hanging chads, dimpled chads, pregnant chads.

What iced the cake for me was some Republican watchdog’s marvelous accusation a Democratic ballot recounter in Florida actually ate a pile of chads to dispense with the evidence! This description was very pointed, almost pornographic in its specificity, beginning with wetting the fingertip, inserting finger between lips, moistening it with tongue, then purposeful application of said finger to incriminating mound of chads, popping them in the person’s mouth, down to the final fingerlick. Is this how grownups act? Is this any way to run a country?

In my perplexity, I recall occasions I’ve used a hole-puncher and can’t get rid of the dratted circular pieces of paper. They dog your steps, following you around everywhere in the house. They get tracked underfoot. They cling to your clothing. Chads — love them, leave them, you can’t get rid of them. They stalk you like an obsessive lover. They haunt you like a bad

Once chads are created, nothing destroys them. But, in our politically correct culture, why has no one so far stepped forward to recycle used chads? To retool them? Redirect them? Reinvigorate them. Reinfuse them with new purpose?

To remedy that, I consulted a cross-section of citizens to contribute constructive uses for errant chads — which surely will take America to its next level as a nation.

Jake, a Republican attorney, Orange County, Calif.: “Sell them to the frozen yogurt/ice cream people. They can be sprinkled on a scoop of your favorite flavor.”

Meg, Philadelphia: “Scattering them instead of rice at weddings. New meaning for jimmies. Feed them to the municipal pigeons pooing on city hall. Sell them just as Dunkin Donuts sells donut holes as munchkins. Give them to politicians and news people to color in, then use as sequins, for a new line of election wear. Fill containers and offer a prize for the person who guesses the correct number within — er, maybe a trip to Florida or a job as poll watcher. Send them to the queen, Castro, etc. (all the election well wishers) as a good-will gesture and a clue to democracy in action. Send them to the actual country of Chad, where elections are said to be even more badly run. My favorite: bundle them all up and send them to the winner, our new Chad Man. Really tastefully as a snowman — just in time for the winter holidays.”

David, accountant, upstate New York: “Throw them in the Delaware so we can continue the Chad Run every spring. Why don’t you ask Chad Mitchell, Chad Everett or Chad Ogea? Or ship them to Chaddsford and let Wyeth paint them. Put them aboard the chad-danooga choo choo, leaving Pennsylvania station about quarter to four, read a magazine and you’re in Balluhmur. I want to emigrate to South Florida where the streets are paved with chads.”

Rich, printer, San Francisco: “Until lately, a lot of these neo nazis thought that ‘hanging chad’ was what they did on Saturday night when they got to wear their Casper the not-so-friendly ghost bed sheets and imperial dunce caps at the weekly meeting of the chapter of the Southern Knights of the Klu Klux Klan. … Well, if they drag this out too long, and the stockmarket crashes and economic purgatory ensues, we can always use chads as currency.”

Polly, computer consultant, Pennsylvania: “Bindis, those little thingys cool and hip girls stick on their forehead over their third eye as a decoration; it’s of Hindi origin.”

John, activist/cartoonist, Pennsylvania: “Chads must henceforth be made of organic, chlorine-free, preferably hemp-based fiber to protect the health of chad consumers.”

Pam, activist, Philadelphia: “Turn each chad into a little political button:


AnneAdele, anthropologist, Philadelphia: “A dash of sage, a little butter, and you’ve got instant turkey stuffing. Too late for Thanksgiving, but Christmas beckons.

Marlene, illustrator, Chicago: “Confetti for the New Year’s celebration or the final election decision of who is the next president, whichever comes first. Or, make the idiots who bollixed up this election paste the chads back in place for the next election. That’ll teach them.

Jan, animal-care consultant, Philadelphia: “This afternoon while listening to Al Gore’s comments on NPR, I ended up thinking what’s this all about anyway — do we really NEED a president?”

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