Remember when we partied like it was 1999? Well, some of us did -- and I'm still trying to pay that off. Though it was my last brush with pure peer pressure, it was surely my most costly brush with peer pressure. Hell, all the computers in the world would be too stupid to figure out that 2000 comes after 1999, right? When that happened, the whole of civilization's technology would stop working, rendering the human race exponentially more dysfunctional than we already were.
But, something happened when the clock struck twelve on New Year's Eve 1999. Dick Clark was still rockin' on our concave picture tube television sets. The giant crystal ball didn't malfunction and explode into a billion pieces right there in Times Square. And guess what? We would all survive into the new millenium. Catastrophe averted.
1999 was supposed to be "the end of the world." And, it proved to be a lot of worry and not much excitement. Boooo!!! You know, someday I'd like to finish what I start. Uh, maybe the world ending is a bad place to start, or should I say finish.
For those disappointed that the world didn't come to a halt, don't worry, there's a new end of the world just around the corner. This one is based on the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012. December 21st, 2012 to be exact, so think of all the money you'll be saving on Christmas presents. What's really cool about this end of the world prediction is that the world-famous prognosticator, Nostrodamus, concurs with the Mayans -- 2012 is the new 1999.
Apparantly, Mayan prophecy is all the rage on elementary school playgrounds these days. My ten-year-old son asked me the other day if the world was going to end in 2012. I asked him where he heard that, which I find out later is not the most calming response to a question of such magnitude. Asking someone where they heard something immediately gives credence to the rumor, followed by a cause for alarm. I covered for my faux paux with a quick, "Well, I'm still waiting for the killer bees to get us."
"Killer bees?" My son started to tremble.
"Listen, the world's not coming to an end in 2012. You know how I know?"
"Because the world was supposed to come to an end in 1999 when all the computers would stop working. It didn't happen. When I was a kid, they told us World War III was coming and we'd blow ourselves up with nukes." My kid knows about nukes from his experience with Call of Duty: Black Ops. I know it's rated Mature, but it sure comes in handy for conversations like this. So who's the bad parent now?
"That never happened, right Dad."
"Right son." Sometimes he amazes me with his grasp of comlex things. Like understanding that since we were still talking the world hadn't ended. What a genius boy I begat. "And those killer bees, they never happened either. I remember being scared to death watching the news about how the killer bees would be in Ohio by 1978. We'd all be dead and the bees would take over the world. I'm still waiting. Bird flu. Waiting. Swine flu. Still waiting. Giant lizards. You know it, waiting for those too."
I tend to romanticize the end of the world a bit too much. "Yeah, I came up with that one on my own. Sorry."
"So, we're not going to die?"
"We should be so lucky. I mean, don't worry son, you're destined for a life of disappointment, tragedy and heartbreak. Then, when you finally have enough money to really live your life, you're body will break down and you won't be able to enjoy any of it. It's the circle of life, kiddo, the circle of life. For a moment I felt like King Mufasa talking to Simba."
"Thanks Dad." My son walked away, seemingly more confused than when we started our conversation. But, I'd rather have him confused than scared out of his wits. Mission accomplished.
As much as I don't want to believe that the end will actually happen in 2012, some of the shows on the History Channel really get you thinking. What bugs me is that Nostrodamus, great prophet that he was, is unable to tell us specifically how the world will actually end. He's narrowed it down to volcano eruptions, comets colliding with the earth, floods and the sun somehow blasting us from hundreds of millions of miles away. So, basically he's laid out every possible scenario, a virtual smorgasbord of annihilation. One thing's for sure, I'm not buying what he's selling.
A common thread that runs through the Mayan and Nostrodamus prophecies is in the concept of major change that will take place in the world. Most believe that when the sun aligns itself with the center of the Milky Way in December of 2012, there could be potential for things to happen. Crazy things. Catastrophic things. I'll go with the scientists who looks at these types of things happened in the past. These changes didn't take place all at once, they said, but over thousands and millions of years. That's my kind of prophecy, slow and steady.
After our third child, my wife has been on me to get snipped, if you know what I mean. For Dick Van Patten, eight was enough. For my family, three is more than enough. But, I've been putting this "procedure" off, stalling like a Dean Smith basketball team running the four corner offense.
Now with all the talk about 2012, I'm more convicted than ever to not have the operation.
The other day, she bothered me again to "go see the doctor."
"I can't." I needed to for her to understand that this was bigger than the both of us. "If Nostrodamus is right and the end of the world is really coming, what if I'm the only man to survive? Who will help to re-populate the world? As tough as it would be for me, it would be my duty. I can't be that selfish to contribute to the extinction of the human race."
"Trust me," my wife shot back. "No one's going to be that disappointed if they can't have sex with you. You don't see me crying any tears, do you?"