The end of daze

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It’s alarming, it really is.

At the edge of Kennedy Park in Lewiston, a group of young adults are kicking around a soccer ball in the middle of the afternoon. Deeper into the park, middle-age officer workers are lingering over sandwiches, swapping gossip and pontificating.

A few blocks away, early afternoon drinkers are swaying on bar stools, laughing loudly at things that aren’t funny. Others are at home half naked on couches, feet up on coffee tables and settled in for a long afternoon of “Three’s Company.”

Along the avenues, riders buzz like wasps on fancy new motorcycles. Gleaming trucks haul boats to the lake. Everywhere you look, people are slacking, spending or getting sauced.

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I just don’t get it. Don’t they know the end is near?

Call me a fruit loop, but I’ve been thinking plenty about grim predictions of the Mayan Calendar. If the ancient ones are to be believed, all that we know will come to an end on the winter solstice of 2012. According to an extremely advanced End of Times clock I just now downloaded from a random Web site, that’s just 974 days and a handful of hours away.

Less than 1,000 days and look at that fool across the street, painting his house as though the outcome of humanity hinges on whether his shutters are blue or brown.

It’s funny, really. Ask a handful of people for their thoughts on the Mayan calendar and you’ll get an almost universal response. Larry, your proctologist will roll his eyes, slap his forehead and spit on your shoes, all in one magnificent gesture meant to inform you that he puts no stock in such nonsense. Nossir, he will insist, getting redder by the minute. He is no more afraid of 2012 than he is of vampire unicorns invading on magic carpets.

Randy the Roto Rooter guy thinks you’re a hippie freak just for asking the question. Loretta the school lunch lady laughs at the very idea of global doom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful? she marvels aloud. Why, all of her debt would be erased in one great whoosh and she would know at last that her rat bastard ex-husband Woody was gone for good.

Almost nobody’s buying into the 2012 hysteria, not out loud, anyway. They made giant asses of themselves during the Y2K scare, what with spending all their savings on fortified bunkers and telling their bosses to get bent and all. No way they’re going to start living like Jim Morrison based on a 5,000-year-old forecast.

So, you’re either a non-believer like the fine folks described above or you’re an outright THE END IS NEAR fanatic, who wanders the streets in tinfoil warning others to repent. Which makes me wonder, if you know when the end will come, why are you wearing the foil hat?

But never mind. It just seems that there must be others like me — those who don’t believe or disbelieve but keep an open mind. Hey, there’s at least a long-shot chance we’ll all be toast before winter of 2012. Could it hurt to cram a little extra fun into that time?

So, I started asking around. I asked store clerks and cops, strangers and Facebook friends. Who among you, I demanded, is worried about the big drop off at the end of the Mayan calendar?

“I don’t stress about things I can’t change,” said one woman, who probably keeps a book of inspirational phrases in her purse for these kinds of occasions.

“That puts way too much importance on our little species of monkeys,” said a young filmmaker who was obviously channeling Darwin.

“I’m betting the Mayan science got bogged down with religion and stopped in its tracks somewhere,” theorized a former school teacher.

“Yeah, and I’m also worried about the monster in my closet,” said a man who was too old to be riding a skateboard.

“I mess my pants every time I think about it,” said a local businessman, openly mocking the question.

“2012 signals the beginning of my empire Prattlandia,” said another great comic of our day.

“Buy something or get out of my store,” said a surly clerk who doesn’t like thought experiments.

“12/21/12 is a date on the calendar that will come and go without anything eventful happening, just like 01/01/00 did,” said a map designer who may or may not have messed himself during the Y2K days.

“That’s the day we all get our George Jetson air cars,” said a nurse, who probably keeps her patients in stitches with that kind of wit.

Louts, the lot of them. Not a single admission of concern from any of them. And, so clearly, it is just me and the tinfoil hat club giving any serious thought to the matter.

Which is just fine. Because when the ground starts to open up beneath us and fire falls from the sky, I can look at all of you who scoffed and say: “Aha! For the years leading up to this doom, I squandered all my money, acted irresponsibly and generally did whatever I damn well pleased!”

Of course, I was going to do all of those things anyway. But you should not waste any time arguing that point. While you were reading this column, three precious minutes disappeared from the End of Times clock, and brother, you ain’t getting those minutes back.

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