Published: January 05, 2006 04:00 pm

Opening up in 2006

Columnist offers lesson in politics

By Debbie Harbeson daharbeson at yahoo com

THE PROBLEM: A cork shoved completely inside a wine bottle.

THE CHALLENGE: Remove the cork without breaking the bottle or damaging the cork.

THE LIMITED TOOLS AVAILABLE: A fork, knife, spoon and cloth napkin.

THE INCENTIVE: $20 dollars.

I encountered this situation at a recent holiday party and the reactions varied. First, no one moved until the $20 was mentioned and then a group went to the kitchen to work on the problem. Evidently several people didnt really care much about an empty wine bottle and continued dealing with the challenge of emptying full ones. The rest seemed more interested in the crab balls.

I decided to observe the group working on the solution. They were immersed in throwing out ideas, questioning possibilities and experimenting when suddenly a group of politicians crashed the party.

Patty Politician announced, You know, my husband once stepped on a bottle on the floor of our home and fell. The bottle had a cork inside. Therefore weve decided to get involved here so no one gets hurt. Especially the children.

Peter Politician added, Yep and the first thing we need to do is take 17 of the 20 dollars. And they all nodded their heads in agreement.

Paul Politician picked up the bottle and shook it. He was about to speak when someone traveling with them, carrying a roll of stickers that said CLA (Cork Lovers of America) whispered in his ear and gave him a video.

Then Paul said, Well, do we really need to worry about breaking the bottle? I see no other way to get to the cork.

Peter, whose brother belongs to SABB (Society Against Breaking Bottles) said, Wait a minute! We need bottles. Sure we have a problem with the cork inside but we must not break the bottle in order to get the cork.

Patty interrupted, I dont think any of those tools will fix this situation. We need that frying pan hanging on the wall.

Peter replied, You know, were getting nowhere because we dont have enough money. We need these original funds to pay for our new offices.

OK look, said Paul, lets compromise, we can purchase one of those fancy glass cutters and cut a hole in the bottle.

Peter yelled, Thats still going to ruin the bottle!

Well Ive seen this type of problem before and the bottle always breaks.

Its unfortunate, but its the way our system works. Its time to take a vote, people. We need to decide whether to damage the cork or break the bottle.

One of the original partygoers interrupted, Hey look over there, that guys almost got the cork out!

Well, yeah, said Patty, but its not out yet and this is taking way too long. We have to solve this now, and she grabbed the bottle.

A brawl broke out, someone slammed the bottle against a cabinet and glass flew everywhere. The cork rolled under the kitchen table and fell far down a heating vent. The host, using a flashlight, said she could see it but it was going to be very difficult to reach.

All the politicians looked at each other and smiled. They patted each other on the back, saying, Job well done guys and gals! We did it. How courageous of us. Come on, lets go plan a press conference.

As they headed out the door, I heard someone say, Lets stop over at the house down the street. I hear those folks are trying to figure out how to make quarters disappear.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson looks for every opportunity to tell governments to put a cork in it. If you want to offer a bribe for the puzzle solution, write to Daharbeson at yahoo com. Her column appears on Thursdays.

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