The problem with apocalypses, as opposed to Christmas or New Years, is that they only come once and you really have to enjoy them while you can. I feel like I didn't get enough out of this last end of the world. Years ago I imagined having a huge Mayan World's End Bash. But instead I went to bed early while the wife watched reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.
So we begin 2013. Raise your hand if you thought we would never get this far. I mean, those magical, mystical Mayans had a calendar that...you know, ran out. So the only logical interpretation is that the planet would explode. My calendar ran out yesterday so I bought a new one. Maybe the Mayans were planning on buying a new calendar but just got busy doing other things and couldn't get to the mall and then the one they wanted was sold out and it was super expensive on Amazon so they just did without. Ever think of that?
Back in the day, we used to listen to Prince singing 1999. "Two thousand zero zero party over it's out of time." Then came that big giant mother of all End-Of-The-World scenarios - Y2K!! (spoken in your best James Earl Jones voice) We dusted off our Prince albums and had wonderful parties and stood on the rooftops waiting for the aliens to come get us, or we tunneled inside our bomb shelters and waited for the power to go out and the zombies to walk the streets.
It's hard to live up to Y2K for a credibility. People actually believed there was some kind of science behind why the world would end. I remember back in 1990, I was working on a computer program and changed the 2 character date someone else had created to a four character date. I didn't realize at the time that I was saving the world. You're welcome.
In 1999, I spoke with a man who was stocking up. He truly did have a bomb shelter filled with supplies, and he was armed. He and his wife told me how the power companies were going to stop working and it would be at least several months before order could be restored. It makes wonderful fiction. I regret not having taken advantage of it. I started working on a book several years ago based on 2012. It had action, it had intrigue, but the one thing I could never give it was believability. I worked out several scenarios but could never come up with a truly credible reason why people would believe the world would end on December 21, 2012. Other than a bunch of so-called-History-Channel documentaries, and a spin-off series about survivalists, it just didn't generate as much publicity as it probably deserved.
But don't worry, if history is any lesson we'll soon have another reason why life as we know it will come to a bad end. Hollywood has provided a string of reasons, from running out of gas, to the environment, to those dreaded machines taking over. And if my toaster is any indication, we may soon have a war on our hands over burnt toast or soggy bagels. (I swear to God, no matter the cost, no matter how many lives are lost, I will live through that war just to take that damn toaster down!)
Religious scenarios are nothing new. Harold Camping wasn't the first. Mark Twain wrote a funny account of the Millerites in the 1860s. Read here, about 10 or 12 paragraphs down.
I can't imagine what the next End-Of-The-World scenario will be, but I'm sure we will have a next one. I hope it's soon. It gives people something to look forward to, and helps spur on that segment of the economy that makes beef jerky and canned beans. Plus, I really need to finish that book. Otherwise it will be about killer zombie bees with misprinted calendars.