Tom Conoboy Knows the Answers # 3


Tom Conoboy, once described by Esquire magazine as “the Ewan McGregor of librarianing,” occasionally deigns to answer the nonsensical questions that come up in the normal course of events at Johnny America HQ. Here he answers the queries we mused on over champagne at Patrick Giroux’s house on New Year’s Eve.

Q. What’s going to happen in the year 2012? End of the world, or other?


Not the end of the world, not even the beginning of the end of the world, but perhaps the end of the beginning, as Winston Churchill (“the first black American president”, as someone answered in a British quiz show recently) might have put it. You see, we humans tend to think about everything in terms of our own puny time scales. So we think about global warming, and we worry about the end of time, and we prophesy doom and eternal damnation, and because we don’t understand the vastness of time we imagine it will happen some time after 3pm on the first Thursday in May, 2012.

Let’s remember, the first homo sapiens emerged only 120,000 years ago (on a Saturday, around lunch time.) In planetary terms, we’re babes in arms. There’s an Emperor angelfish circling the waters of the Red Sea that could, if only it had taken a library user education program, trace its lineage back 120,000 generations. Admittedly, the ancestors would be a bit rough looking to modern tastes, with a fin or two more than we’re accustomed to, but that’s not the point. You don’t see the angelfish fretting about the end of the world, do you? Not even as it approaches that curious, netty looking thing that seems to be hovering in the water…

But not to worry, there’s another generation of angelfish ready to swim into the breach. There always is. It’s the way of things. Time, it’s just one bloody day after another…

Q. Who would win in a fight between Naomi Campbell [with her fierce temper and obvious height advantage] and Lil’ Kim [who is small but scrappy, and has also spent time ‘in the clink’]? By this I mean an unregulated, no rules-type fight, such as might occur on the street or in a nightclub.

Celebrity cat fight! Let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time before it’s a franchise on the BBC and CBS. Carla from Cheers will be the referee and she’ll be infamous for stepping in and doing a bit of gratuitious eye-gouging if the combatants aren’t being mean and nasty enough. “They like it,” will be her lugubrious catchphrase, with that trademark Carla twinkle in her eye.

But anyway, Naomi Campbell versus L’il Kim. No contest, sadly. L’il Kim’s one of those feisty rappers, former lover of gunned-down hip-hopper Notorious B.I.G and, having done time, she’s obviously going to trade on her ex-con status. But come on, she was only in for perjury. What’s she going to do - floor Naomi with a quick one-two of little fibs followed by a whopper between the eyes? Stand over her and tell her rap music is more than silly hand movements, large trousers and an in-depth knowledge of the present progressive tense so that every line ends with -ing and sounds like it rhymes?

Meanwhile we all know that the magnificently moody Campbell flattens anyone who comes within ten yards of her private space. She’s getting to the stage where she doesn’t even need to risk her nails and knuckles. One look is enough to flatten all but the most resolute opponent. The Campbell Kybosh, it’ll be called. “Ooh, there she goes,” Carla will shout, “L’il Kim’s a goner. Fetch a stretcher.”

Dear me, no, it’ll take more than L’il Kim to knock Naomi off her pedestal. Hillary Clinton, now that might be a closer match…

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