Sometimes the oddest things will bring a cool story to mind. This time, an irritating Facebook meme involving giraffes was the spark that dredged F. Paul Wilson’s 1978 gem “Lipidleggin’” to mind. It premiered in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, which I was fortunate to be reading regularly at that time.
From today’s vantage point, it’s a disturbingly prescient rumination on government meddling and the clever ways people circumvent it. In the case of Wilson’s homespun narrator, the key is knowing your customer—and their poison.
The new guy puts his hat on the counter and glances around. He looks uneasy. I know what’s coming but I’m not going to help him out. There’s a little dance we’ve got to do first.
“I need to buy a few things,” he says. His voice has a little tremor in it and close up like this I figure he’s in his mid-twenties.
“Well, this is a general store,” I reply, getting real busy wiping down the counter, “and we’ve got all sorts of things. What’re you interested in? Antiques? Hardware? Food?”
“I’m not looking for the usual stock.”
(The music begins to play)
I look at him with my best puzzled expression. “Just what is it you’re after, friend?”
“Butter and eggs.”
Of course, back in 1978 I didn’t care about any of that. I’d found a cool story, and nothing else mattered. It left me with a lifelong wariness of a particular sort of giraffe, and the certainty they could never really win.
Give it a read. It’ll leave you hungry for more.
And, hey…somebody made a short film based on “Lipidleggin'”. It won’t win any Academy Awards, but it’s cute and captures the mood pretty well. Check it out, after you read the story.