First I read Who Cut The Cheese? -- An A-Mazing Parody About Change and How We Can Get Our Hands On Yours, by Stilton Jarlsberg, M.D., published by Crown Publishers, and found it a very entertaining book. Much like in WMMC?, some high school chums get together and wind up discussing change in their lives.
"And who would've thought I'd have gone through three divorces by now?" added Naomi. "My husbands knew I liked to sleep around when they met me -- then they expected me to change!"
The friends, naturally, urge their pal Biff to tell them the fable of Who Cut The Cheese?
"I'd be happy to," smiled Biff, sliding his hand across Naomi's supple thigh. "It doesn't take long to tell. It's just about the length of an extremely thin book!"
The story is about two rats, Sniff and Scamper, and two teenypeople, Hi and Ho, who run around a maze looking for cheese. One day, they find CheesyWorld, the answer to all their problems.
...CheesyWorld also had plenty of capital "C" Cheese for the teeny people, which looked and tasted exactly like the other cheeses, but was fortified with 100% of the FDA's recommended daily dose of symbolism.
Of course, it isn't long until their Cheese is moved, and the rats dash off to find new Cheese, while Hi and Ho stick around, stubbornly waiting for their Cheese to be returned. Ho takes to writing the lessons he learns on the wall.
"Say, where do you keep finding those charcoal sticks you're using for these drawings?" Hi wondered.
"I found a whole pile of them over there where Snitch and Scamper used to sit," Ho answered. "Though it's the softest charcoal I've ever seen."
He decided to let the matter drop.
Soon, Ho decides the Cheese is not coming back, and heads off into the maze alone.
He was a bit surprised to discover unexpected emotions welling up inside. Was he feeling fear, or excitement? Anxiety, or just maybe the thrill of a bold new adventure?
"Nope, it's fear," realized Ho as he dropped to his knees, wracked with dry heaves.
What happens when Ho finally finds more Cheese? Well, I don't want to give it away. After hearing the story, the friends discuss it with each other. When asked which character she'd like to be, Naomi replies:
"I guess I'd like to be more of a Ho."
"As if that were possible," muttered Michelle.
All in all, I thought this was a fun parody, and there are a number of good laughs and clever ideas. Sure, it doesn't tackle the more evil issues of WMMC?, but it jabs successfully at the hackneyed symbolism and infantile messages of Spencer Johnson's book. I enjoyed it.
The second parody is called Who Cut the Cheese? -- A Cutting-Edge Way of Surviving Change by Shifting the Blame, by Mason Brown, J.D., published by Simon & Schuster. Again, some high school pals get together and talk about how change has affected their lives.
"I think no matter matter where you are, a change in the status quo always threatens to make matters worse."
With his thick Mexican accent, Pedro was promptly ignored. The snub offended his Latino pride to the core, and he was about to say something when he realized that it had been thirty-five years of constant slights and systematic racism, and what the hell was he going to do about it now? He fell silent again, and fumed.
"Sí, I theenk what he said," mimicked Jane.
This time, it's a parable of how change can be blamed on someone else, much in the way you'd blame a fart on someone nearby (hence the title). In this flatulence-filled story, the rats are named Whiff and Ditch, and the Punypeople are called Duck and Cover. They too live in a maze and spend their time searching for cheese, finding a huge amount one day in Cheese Depot D.
Then [Duck] composed e-mails to all his friends inviting them over to sample his cheese. They invariably declined politely, reminding him that he lived trapped in a maze inhabited by monstrous rats, but thanked him profusely for the kind invitation.
Soon, Duck and Cover turn against one another, due to the horrible flatulence they each had from eating nothing but hardened dairy products. And then, one day, the cheese is gone.
The two Punypeople double-checked the room to make sure that the cheese had really disappeared, but to no avail. Cheese is not by nature playful. It never hides anywhere.
Despite the absence of the Cheese, Duck and Cover still return to the Cheese Depot each day, sticking together mostly out of fear that the rats might attack and eat them. Cover engages in writing wise aphorisms on the wall with a rock.
Duck frowned at Cover. "Why the hell do you always keep scrawling crap on the wall? We have a printer. We have e-mail. If you want to tell me something, I'm right here in front of you."
And, after Cover draws on the wall the next time:
"Stop that! It's possible that our Cheese Supplier is scared to send his drivers over here because of all the graffiti you write. I know I've tried to get deliveries sent here, but they never come."
"That's because we're in some sort of hellish netherworld with no fixed address!" screamed Cover.
As Cover leaves in search of new Cheese, he can't help but write one more inspirational message to his friend:
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE ALONE IN THIS GASSY HELLHOLE
By the end of the story, nearly all the characters have succumbed to miserable, gory deaths. Of course, there is the post-story wrap-up, where the high school chums discuss what the story meant to them.
Xian Tse Li, who had been a top-level nuclear physicist before his employers suspected him of being Chinese, also seemed concerned by Lewis's story.
"Are you telling me that we should always blame the weak and the poor and the oppressed?" asked Li.
"Not at all," replied Lewis. "To be sure, there's never a moment when you can't pin fault on an oppressed group, so make sure you've always got at least one minority fall guy nearby."
This Who Cut the Cheese? parody relies a little more on gross-out humor than the first, and it runs a little too long, repeating many of the jokes. It's still funny, but I prefer the Crown version.