Steven Ivory

*Energy conglomerate BP, in its continuing  efforts to clean up the tragic mess it made in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, recently announced it is open to ideas from the general public and private industry.  

The corporation says it has received thousands of ideas,  but very few seem viable.  Here’s my suggestion to the global giant:  Cease with the  alibis and  posturing,  swallow the foolish pride and call the Cat  in the Hat.

Seriously.  Anyone who has read  Dr. Seuss’ books about the mischievous  rhyming cat wearing the peculiar high, striped hat,  knows  he’s the man–I mean cat–for the job. Call me silly.    But while seniors in my high school Humanities class were grappling with the meaning of life,  I was reacquainting myself with  a great literary sequel I initially read in first grade, “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.” I well know what The Cat can do with a problem that starts small and morphs into a monster.  

Don’t take my word for it. Put down “Blink” or whatever Thomas L. Friedman is declaring these days  long enough to  revisit a  saga   of  bizarre circumstance and fantastical triumph.  It all starts with a crazy pink bathtub ring The Cat himself  haphazardly created when he came to somebody’s home as a housekeeper and ended up  eating cake in the tub with the water running.  

Somehow, that pink  ring spread from the tub and soiled everything all over the house,  ultimately staining these folks’ yard.  But in the end, when all seemed hopeless, the Cat in the Hat left  the whole house and the yard sparkling clean. I’m convinced he could do the same for the Gulf. What else has worked?

The other night I caught the tail end of Charlie Rose’s  chat  with  The Cat  himself,  interviewed by satellite from New Zealand. “I’d be interested in helping out,” he told Rose, “but no one from BP  has contacted me.”   

“Now,” he continued, “I have seen BP’s cockamamie SOLUTIONS to  these dastardly POLLUTIONS. I think they’re all ridicUlous and super sacrilegUious.”

One reason The Cat thinks BP executives haven’t reached out: they might recall from childhood reading that, as is the custom of some Dr. Seuss books, before all is made well, the villain must face the music. “I’d have  to spend some quality time with  [BP CEO] Mr.  Hayward,”  said The Cat.  “Not very long.  I don’t know if they would  be willing to allow that.”

The Cat in the Hat added that he is currently writing a book inspired by the misguided words of BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, titled, “Small People! Shumall People! What Gall, People!”  

I’m not sure what the Cat in the Hat charges to work his kooky miracles these days.  He  takes no payment from kids,  but in an era of  bailouts  and  corporate takeovers,  I can’t  imagine him working with BP for peanuts.  However, he can’t cost anywhere near what BP insists it has pledged to undo this horrible  crisis.  

Besides, for a cleanup  the magnitude of the Gulf, what you’re really paying for isn’t The Cat himself; it’s his crew.  Remember, during the climax of  “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back,” while trying to clean up that huge pink muddle, The Cat takes off his hat and one by one out come smaller cats, each one of them named after an alphabet (as in Cat A, Cat, B, etc.), and each of them wears a hat, out of which a smaller hat-wearing cat emerges.  

And each one tries something, but none of what each one does works.  Until they get to the last cat, the tiniest cat, Cat Z.  And Cat Z has  under its itty-bitty hat  something called VOOM!  And VOOM! whatever it is, that’s the shit. When the VOOM! is unleashed, there’s all kinds of thunder and  chaos and commotion and wigs slanted sideways and whatnot.

However, when the VOOM! is done, the tub, the house, the yard, the whole damn neighborhood is spotless.  That minuscule cat, that’s the one you’re paying for (so much for “small people”).  But you can’t get the tiniest cat without The Cat in the Hat and all the other cats.  Could be a union thing.           

In any case, as kids read of The Cat’s adventure in cleaning up that  pink gook,  they also learn the alphabet.  As it works to resolve our real life ecological nightmare, I’m  wondering what BP will learn?  What will we learn?  

I’m not losing my mind.  Nor do  I mean any disrespect to anyone, anywhere.  It’s just that as  I  view this thing on TV,  I’m getting a little scared.  I feel for the people in the Gulf.  I feel  powerless.  And sometimes, just for a minute or two, like a child, I wish for the likes of a Space Ghost, an Aqua Man, Superman or even a Cat in the Hat.  Because this time,  mere  human beings  don’t seem able to cut it.  

Steven Ivory is a journalist/author who has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years.  Respond to him via [email protected]