I won't lie to you. I've watched far too many apocalyptic documentaries on the History Channel in recent weeks. If you were to sneak up behind me right now and pop a balloon, I'd jump all the way to the ceiling and then cling like a cartoon cat to the light fixture, every hair on my body standing on end. I'd shriek and wet myself and all the change would spill out of my pockets. Are you proud of yourself?
I'm a little freaked out, I admit it. Here we are, just days from The End of Everything and I haven't even begun to prepare for survival. No escape pod, no underground bunker and not one ounce of survival serum like that dreamy Charlton Heston in "Omega Man."
When the universe cracks open and all that we know and love is sucked into the void, I'll be just like the rest of you, staring at the rent sky, jaw hanging and muttering, "What the ..." just before it all goes black. And even though in space no one can hear you scream, people can still laugh, and you cold-hearted curs will be laughing plenty because I will have wet myself again.
As far as I can tell, I'm the only one with apprehension over this looming doom. In 2010, it seemed like everybody was talking about the encroaching horror of Dec. 21, 2012. It's almost a palindrome, for God's sake. How can it be anything but real?
But now? Nothing. White noise about every trivial thing in the world, but not a peep about the End of Days. You're out there playing Angry Birds or plucking lint from your navel while I'm pacing the cold floors and fretting about these final hours.
I know what you're thinking about: all those empty cautions that have come and gone. Y2K in the late '90s. Pat Robertson's warnings of doom in 1982 and 2006. Pat Robertson's warnings of doom in 2008 and 2010. Harold Camping's Rapture Remix of 1994 and the revisions that followed. All end-of-the-world forecasts that titillated, frightened and then fizzled. Non-events not worth the sandwich boards upon which they were written.
Which is exactly my point. We've sneered, scoffed at and survived so many doomsday prognostications, one of them is bound to get us sooner or later. And frankly, I think the Mayan calendar with its spooky omissions is just the thing to deliver the goods after all those cries of wolf.
But in what form will it come? The History Channel gives us a long list that reads like a menu at the Doomsday Cafe. Can I offer you a nuclear war, monsieur, to get you started? Perhaps you'd like to try a super volcano, plague or economic collapse? With a side order of solar flare, of course, and a creamy asteroid sauce to top it off.
Mayans aside, you can't say we never saw it coming. How we've managed to last this long is a marvel in itself, what with our holy wars, acts of terror and atomic-bomb staring contests. In the long history of the Earth, we've only been here a short time and every second has been a precarious stroll along a tightrope.
Mankind is rich with intelligence, it's true, but what we possess even more of is hubris — absolute confidence that our homes will always be warm, police protection is just a phone call away and the grocery store shelves will always be stocked with fresh food, clean water and toilet paper. Why spend a couple of hours packing a Bug-out Bag when we could be watching "Glee" and throwing out leftovers just because we can?
Make even a passing reference to the latest doomsday prophecy — which, let me remind you, IS ALMOST A PALINDROME! — and you will be roundly mocked. "Look at Pee Pee Pants," people will say, "running around believing the sky is falling like an apocaholic on an end-of-the-world bender."
They will laugh at your water-purification tablets, your waterproof matches and your cans of delicious Vienna sausages. They will roll their eyes at the Mayan Doomsday Countdown Clock on your phone home-screen. They will invoke the folly of earlier doomsday prophecies and go back to playing Draw Something with strangers, never pausing to consider that the Roman Empire was once considered too big to fall, as well. And ancient Egypt, Babylon and the Mayans themselves. All great civilizations that rose and perished, and without tasty Vienna sausages for solace.
I tell you, I'm twitchy about this thing in a way I never was about those earlier warnings of obliteration. If one of you yuksters were to pound on the side of my house or cut my power at midnight on the given day, I might flee to the basement and barricade myself, not to be seen again until the spring of 2015.
You'd like that, wouldn't you?
Of course, I won't be home when it all goes down, so don't bother. I'll be in an undisclosed location doing undisclosed things with undisclosed people. It's all very "Red Dawn."
The world probably isn't going to end on Dec. 21. Probably. On Dec. 22, I can switch off the History Channel and go back to watching "Two and a Half Men" reruns during downtime. But if the hype over the Mayan calendar achieved nothing else, it made me pause to appreciate things like clean water, 911, microwave popcorn, instant messaging, Red Box movies, 30-minute pizza delivery, deodorant, drive-through coffee and camping because you want them, not because the rest of the world is a smoldering hole.
And pants. An endless supply of fresh pants available for any emergency.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can scare the pee out of him at email@example.com.