I hate to whine. But with the end of the world coming, I thought I could blow stuff off without consequence. I stopped paying bills. I told a few people to shove it (sorry about that, Mom) and did absolutely nothing by way of preparing for this week’s column.
Seriously, is the world so out of control that you can’t even take an 89-year-old millionaire Christian radio host at his word?
I was sure it was going to go down this time. I was sure because the whole world mocked the idea in one collected guffaw. “Oh, no!” two-thirds of you wrote in your Facebook status. “It’s the rapture! I’m so scared!”
Funny people left shirts and ties scattered on their front lawns. One hilarious fellow left his pants and a pair of shoes on the floor beneath his toilet. Look, everybody! I ascended right off the can!
Your toilet joke here.
The rapture was the joke of the week. Even people who never joke about anything — those inexplicable folks who don’t even think armpit noises are funny — found a way to get in on the mirth. Somebody, somewhere took the time to fill a dozen “inflatable companions” with helium and release them into the sky. Up they went, the entire population of the adult novelty store rising to their reward. Video of the glorious event hit YouTube and everybody laughed until their sides hurt.
Sheer hilarity. We are so confident about our place in the universe, we feel safe to openly ridicule dire prognostications like this one. And that, my yuck-yucking friends, is usually when bad things happen.
If life was a horror movie, Saturday would have been a bad day, indeed. The end would have come right in the middle of our rapture parties, in obeisance to every horror movie script written since the 1980s. Early evening Saturday is when the gorgeous teenage girl would have started tripping as she ran through the woods.
We’re talking earthquakes, tidal waves and swarms of things that sting. The sinners among us would have watched from a world of fire as the righteous were raised up.
Which would have been cool, in its way, since the righteous apparently have to be naked to get where they’re going.
But, no. Six p.m. came and 6:01 right after it. No sign of hellfire anywhere. No reward for the pious and punishment for … well, you. Saturday was just another rapture that failed to produce. Time to update your Facebook status to impart some version of “I told you so.”
But I’d be willing to bet that plenty of perfectly normal people felt a stirring of relief when the end failed to come. They wouldn’t admit as much aloud — What, me worry? — and to themselves, they could pass the feeling off as imagination or possibly, acid reflux.
But who could blame a person for worrying, if only in a vague way? Because, man, doesn’t it feel like we’re due for something big and bad? Haven’t the signs been piling up to indicate something dark and dire is coming down the cosmic turnpike? I kind of lost count, but it seems to me we’re pretty darn close to 40 straight days of rain.
Even ardent nonbelievers can get spooked if their inner Magic 8-ball quivers with signs of doom. If you don’t believe in the Bible, maybe you believe in the Mayans. If you don’t believe in the Mayans, maybe you believe in missiles. If you’re human, you came with a sense of paranoia built right in.
The problem, of course, is that too many charlatans have fooled too many people for too damn long. With every Jim Jones, David Koresh or Harold Camping that comes and goes, we become more cynical, more sneering, more confident that we and we alone control our destiny. Yet predictions of doom still have the power to captivate us. The difference being that today, we flock to the World Wide Web instead of the church, to mock instead of to repent.
But, whatever; it’s over. Rapture 2011 was good for a week of chatter, a few big parties and some absolutely hysterical sight gags. But bear in mind that Rapture 2011 was also small-time. It was one old man with a million dollars and a radio station instead of a sandwich board and a street corner.
You want to see a real end-of-the-world scare? Wait until next year. Wait until the solstice of 2012, and the big, black nothing that follows, a prediction not of one old crank with liver spots but an ancient civilization whose people, in their way, were far smarter than we are.
Of course, you will scoff every second of the way, your chest puffed out, your eyes laughing. And good for you, bad ass. I wouldn’t want you to change your ways for anything. I just came to explain why I told you off last week and why I can’t repay the money I owe you. I’ve got no dough left, you see, not a single dime.
A dozen inflatable companions don’t come as cheap as you might think.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can frighten him with your end-of-the-world prediction at firstname.lastname@example.org.