What would Jerry Springer do?

If the first week of January is any indication, 2007 is going to be one strange year.

It seemed like everywhere I went, bizarre things were happening and people were doing things you wouldn’t normally expect to see.

Wal-Mart, apparently, is a magnet for bizarre behavior. Last Saturday, during halftime of the Colts game, I was leafing through a tabloid and staring at rows of gum while I waited. This pregnant woman had paid for her stuff and was waiting near the register while a relative, perhaps her mom or her aunt, checked out. It took forever.

So while she was waiting, she rummaged through her bags and pulled out a jar of beets, then opened it and drank the dark-red juice like it was nectar.

“Oh. My. That’s hideous,” a friend said when I told her about it.

“She drained the whole jar,” I said. “Even tipped it back to get the last of the juice.

It took her five or six big pulls to drink it all, but she did it.”

“That’s nasty,” my friend said.

“Imagine you’d just been walking for three hours at the State Fair and someone gave you an ice cold Coke,” I said. “That’s how she drank it.”

“I wonder if it was one of those weird pregnancy things,” my friend said, “because that’s just vile.”

“Dunno,” I said. “She seemed quite happy to drink it.”

“I wonder what made her think, ‘Today I shall drink beet juice,’” my friend wondered.

“It was more like, ‘I’m thirsty so I must go to Wal-Mart and get beets,’” I said. “Like I told you, you don’t see something like that every day.”

“No, and thank God for that,” my friend said. “But I need to know. Did you see what she did with the jar? Did she throw the actual beets away?”

“No,” I said. “She was wearing these scrubs with a big pouch-like thing in front. After she drank the last of the beet juice, she screwed the lid back on the jar and put it in her pouch.”

“Like a kangaroo!”

“Yeah,” I said. “She licked her lips after each swig.”

“I like that she couldn’t even wait until she got to her car,” my friend said. “It was That Urgent.”

“Well, her relative was taking too long in line,” I said. “She needed that yummy beet juice now.”

“People are acting strangely these days,” my friend said. “I was at Subway eating lunch and I overheard this guy ask the girl behind the counter if the peanut butter cookies had nuts in them. He said he was allergic to nuts.”

“It must be something in the water,” I said. “The Republicans are poisoning the water supply so that we’ll all be as stupid as they are.”

“Probably,” my friend said.

“The entire planet has gone insane,” I said. “Saddam Hussein is a revered martyr, it’s 70 degrees in New York in January and the Colts actually won a playoff game. What the hell is going on? Next thing you know, Bill Clinton will announce that he’s gay. Or Britney Spears will start wearing panties.”

“Or one of the Olsen twins will need weight-loss surgery,” my friend said.

“It definitely means something when the person making the most sense on TV is Jerry Springer,” I said. “He’s really the only person I trust to tell me the truth anymore. Everyone else contradicts themselves. The country votes for Democrats so we can bring the troops home from Iraq, and what happens? We send more troops in.”

“It doesn’t seem to make sense,” my friend agreed.

“Jerry Springer wouldn’t have done that,” I said. “He would have had Saddam and Bush sit together on his stage and let them duke it out like men. Then when things started to get boring, one of Bush’s daughters could dance on the stripper pole Jerry has on stage.”

“I’m starting to get the picture,” my friend said. “People from around the world could have sat in the audience and asked Bush and Saddam insulting questions, then flash their breasts at Jerry.”

“It just makes too much sense,” I said. “We could have avoided all of those deaths, all of those lies from our government and seen the Bush twins’ hooters all at the same time.”

“I see people wearing those bracelets all the time,” my friend said. “‘WWJD.’ That stands for ‘What Would Jerry Do?’”

“The world would never accept such a logical set of circumstances,” I said. “We’re just going to have to wait it out. Things are going to be crazy for as long as Bush is president and Jerry Springer isn’t.”

I sighed. “All of this talking has made me thirsty. Do you have a Diet Coke or a Fresca?”

“No,” my friend said, “but there’s a jar of beets in the fridge. Help yourself.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” I said. Stranger things have happened.