I’m generally not one to place much stock in conspiracy theories, but when an American institution comes under senseless attack from within, it gives me pause to reconsider my cherished beliefs. Events I’ve encountered over the past several weeks have left me no choice but to conclude there’s a conspiracy of hydra-like proportions slithering unnoticed through our country. It’s so far-reaching, it’s almost impossible to unearth its roots. And so insidious, it goes largely unnoticed.
One of the last testaments to American ingenuity, the venerable Zippo lighter, is systematically being dismantled by agents working under the auspices of homogenization. The network is vast, and so sublime that even its agents are unaware of its power. The average Joe — citizens like you and me — never sees the effects of homogenization — until it strikes us on an immediate level.
At first, I had no reason to suspect there were forces working in concert to undermine the proud tradition of the Zippo lighter. Thinking that the corner convenience store might stock flints or lighter fluid was a shot in the dark at best, even though this particular location carried every brand of cigarette known to man. Not surprisingly, I fared no better at the liquor store across the street. But I couldn’t help but note both locations offered a variety of refillable butane lighters alongside the obligatory disposable Bics and Scriptos. Undaunted, I went to a nearby drug store where I had purchased flints before, only to be met with a vacant stare from the post-pubescent clerk. Finally, I visited the tobacco bar at my newly remodeled neighborhood grocery store. In the course of the store’s makeover, photo processing and DVD rentals had been eliminated, but the floral section had been expanded as a freestanding kiosk within the store. The tobacco bar had been redone, too. Flints and lighter fluid had fallen victim to the consolidation process, but the selection of butane lighters and disposable lighters had been expanded.
Clearly, this was no mere coincidence. Only weeks before, I was able to purchase Zippo flints and lighter fluid with ease. Now, wherever I went, clerks extolled the virtues of disposables and butane. As tempting as it was to surrender to the inevitable, something I couldn’t explain — something innate, something American — spurred me to not forsake the Zippo. Bic lighters, and their imitators, lure unsuspecting consumers with promises of convenience. They neglect to mention how they’re actually little explosive devices. Only a few days ago here in Dallas, a disposable lighter was responsible for the decimation of an SUV. It had been left in the vehicle for hours in the Texas heat, and when the owner tried to use it, it exploded in his hand. Of course, he dropped the lighter immediately, but the little Chinese-assembled IED completely torched his vehicle.