Monday 20 May 2013


Bixi, the company behind bike rentals is losing money. They can’t figure out why – it’s such an attractive idea, isn’t it? I agree. The idea of renting rather than owning is attractive, but bikes aren’t the right product. The guys running

Community guns have no financial problems. In fact, the business of renting out guns to fellow criminals by the day or by the week is flourishing, according to Metro (15 May).  It makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean how many cheating wives and mortal enemies are you going to kill? Two or three at most. Is that worth going through the hassle of buying a gun? Renting is definitely the better way to go. It works best in situations involving short-term or one-time use. Such as coffins. So how about

Community coffins? Unless you are into reincarnation, you need only one, and only if you are determined to impress the people at your funeral. Otherwise a body bag will do fine. Let’s face it: you yourself won’t feel the difference. But if you want to please the esthetes among your nearest and dearest, go ahead and set aside money for renting a nice solid oak casket.

Community spouses, as in wife swapping, is an old concept, but

Community children is an idea whose time has come. Children are becoming a scarce commodity in the West, so why pay a baby-sitter? Why not charge rent to prospective parents who want to get a sense of what it’s like to mind a child or who need to practice parenting skills. In fact, given the complexities of modern parenthood, couples should be required to obtain a licence. A 500-hour hands-on apprenticeship should be mandatory. In areas that are less important than child-raising or totally useless, such as the humanities, we might have

Community licences and degrees. I mean, really, how often do you use a BA with a major in English or history?  Some people frame their degree, hang it in the den, and fondly reminisce about cheating on exams and plagiarizing essays, but the majority keeps them rolled up in the back of a sock drawer. So why , not rent it out to someone who has a keener appreciation for the symbolic value of a degree and the bragging rights that go with it? Speaking of bragging, I think it would be great to have

Community reunion attendees. Rent a glib talker for the day, preferably someone good-looking and ten years younger than you. Your former class mates will be green with envy, and that’s the whole purpose of reunions, isn’t it? To make people envious of your good looks and career. You don’t think impersonation will work? It does – it totally works in my novel, PLAYING NAOMI. I also think we need

Community interpreters. No, not to translate foreign languages into English. Google has that niche covered with hilarious results. No, I mean, people who will update my English. For example, “don’t rain on my parade” is out.  “Don’t harsh my buzz” is in. Plug that into Google and what do you get? “Don’t abrade my hum.” You know what? “Don’t abrade my hum” has a certain ring to it. Let’s tweet it and start a new meme.

I could also do with a

Community namer, I mean someone with face-recognition technology. I’d love to rent an escort who can flash me the name of the person who has just greeted me so enthusiastically. She looks vaguely familiar. I might have met her at a conference, or else she’s somebody’s ex-wife, Jeannie, or Joannie, or something like that.  Help, I need a namer!

On a grander scale, we might have

Community fantasy rentals. Have you seen the production of Salome in Toronto? I suppose the soprano singing Salome was uncomfortable doing a striptease, so the Dance of the Seven Veils appeared on-screen in a dreamlike sequence created by Atom Egoyan. I think that’s a wonderful idea for overcoming embarrassing or inconvenient moments. I’d like to talk to Egoyan about creating a film-clip library to cover situations we just can’t hack. For example: instead of breaking up with your girl-friend in person or sending her a crude text, say it with a dreamlike movie clip. If she doesn’t understand metaphors, repeat. Eventually, she’ll want to break up with you. Need to fire an employee? Pink slips look great on video. Don’t like the weather outside? Watch a cloudless movie clip. That’s so lame, you say. Who would fall for that kind of fantasy?  The same people who believe they have 347 friends on Facebook. Which reminds me:

Community friends, anyone? Rent them by the hour if you feel an urgent need for a phone date or (gasp!) have descended into a full blown addiction to face time.

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