Taking It Personally: The Impending Apocalypse
Delayed, thank goodness.
I thought I had arrived at a good point in my life.
Just about the time I really started losing my hair, short hair started making a comeback. Bikes became a really green way to travel, instead of suggesting you had lost your license because of one too many DUIs -- and folding bikes like mine were suddenly in. And, as my back was starting to complain about all the years of hockey, football, baseball, and just plain living, slip-on shoes with bungee cord laces became acceptable, with the plus of hinting that the wearer might own a yacht or at least spend a lot of time at the beach.
But then came my birthday last Saturday, a date shared by, among others, Patch colmnist Denise Dubé and our mutual friend Marita Hartshorn, which was also, you may remember, the day of the projected Apocalypse. I tried to tell people that the guy who predicted the end of everything didn’t have a perfect track record, having said the same thing about 1994. This sort of thing has been going on awhile as the Millerites found out back in 1833/34, when a large group of them gave away their worldly possessions, dressed in sheets and repaired to a nearby mountaintop to await a second coming, which would transform the earth.
People didn’t know whether to get me something expensive because money would mean nothing shortly, something cheap because I wouldn’t need it very long, something that would give me a great deal of pleasure for a very short time, or something that would last a bit longer just in case the date was off by a bit. Those who wanted to take me to dinner could think of only one place — "The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe." Douglas Adams, of "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," fame wrote his second book about a restaurant that was located at the end of the universe and was only open as the universe was ending, truly a restaurant at the end of the universe. We checked all the restaurant columns, but we could not locate it.
I thought I might get out of doing the yardwork, but my wife pointed out that we would want the place to look nice just in case there was some sort of heavenly visitation. “The neighbors know that it has been too rainy this past week to do much work outside, but I am not going to have a messy yard if the Angel of the Lord shows up and knocks on the door,” she said. I could see the point, so I assumed my alter ego of Conan the Agrarian and sprayed the apple trees (with a safe and organic substance, of course), cut the grass, raked up some more leaves left over from fall, and put another coat of varnish on the garden bench--just in case a visitor needed to sit down after a long trip from some unknown place.
In the end I settled for takeout from Mario’s with a Hostess cupcake for dessert. Should all human civilization disappear, we have been assured that lizards will still be here. I suspect Hostess cupcakes will outlast us as well. I further suspect there is no truly organic material in them, although I could be wrong. I also got a call from my son, who is using his degree in Math and Biology to manage a rock gym in the Seattle area. I noted he waited until after 6 p.m. We talked about the poor guy who spent all his money to advertise the Apocalypse and then was jeered as the clock moved past the appointed hour. My son said, “You know—when you start advising people about things, you really ought to have a backup plan, a Plan B.” Sound advice for all sorts of endeavors, including being a selectman.
It is interesting to note that people waited until after 6 p.m. to start jeering, but they really should have seen this outcome coming. No clear objective. No user input. No budget numbers. A boatload of potential unintended consequences. This one had out-of-control project written all over it.
Now if I can just remember the advice from my son. Maybe another Hostess cupcake will cement things in my aging brain … Oh, there are also those projects I put off just in case there was an Apocalypse. Like cleaning out the office refrigerator, which has had this really persistent smell inside for around three weeks, the one that is so persistent that it has been suggested that we should just buy another one.
Or maybe we hope for just a minor Apocalypse, one which destroys only appliances.