It’s (Not) The End Of the World As We Know It- And I Feel…Meh [California Seething]
On May 21, 2011, the world once again failed to end. Honestly, I’m fine with that. It’s the kids I feel bad for. This was their first big apocalypse, they’re not used to disappointment. They don’t remember the purple sneakers of Heaven’s Gate (Little known fact: Ishtar was the second choice cult name) and the total let-down of Y2K when we all rushed into the streets at 12:01 AM, only to find that everything was working just fine, and we had to sheepishly drink up all the bottled water and eat all the Progresso soup we’d been hoarding in giddy anticipation of total collapse.
Plus, the kids, they’ve got a lot of big challenges ahead of them and they were really counting on the apocalypse to bail them out. For me, things aren’t quite as bleak. All I’ve got to do is scratch out a living for a few more decades; slurp up the last soggy Apple Jacks of Social Security and pink Medicare milk from the bottom of the government cereal bowl; drive around a bit in an RV; and die as expensively as possible. They have to figure out how to find jobs, pay off student loans, clean up this bankrupt shithole of a planet and somehow retire at the end of it. It’s like returning a rental car after a long road trip. I feel a little guilty about the condition, but mostly glad that I don’t have to do anything about the dog hair in the back, the Cheez-Whiz stains in the front and the pervasive stench of Sausage McMuffin and Ass.
Of course, all hope is not lost. May 21st wasn’t actually predicted to be the end of the world, just the Rapture. Since I live in Los Angeles, recently voted City Least Likely to Notice the Rapture by Godless Living Magazine (subscribe now for $9.95 and get the Christopher Hitchens Swimsuit Issue and a phone in the shape of Despair) I probably wouldn’t know if the rapture had happened until I saw all the empty seats at the next Oklahoma City Thunder home game and noticed that Kevin Durant was missing. That’s why he always carries the backpack. In his mind, Jesus is a divorced dad just waiting to pick him up for the weekend and take him to the Heavenly Pizza Hut after the game with his new girlfriend Mary (he has a type.)
Still, based on Facebook status updates from godlier parts of the country, it seems like the Rapture didn’t happen, which means we’re all stuck here with each other. It’s a shame, really. Sure, after 143 days, Jesus would have come back to send us all to hell for eternity, but it would have been a small price to pay for finally being able to legalize gay marriage, guarantee a woman’s right to choose, teach sex ed and evolution in all public schools, wrap up all the holy wars in the Middle East and use the money to fund all the pornographic arts and public broadcasting we can get on the air before we’re all cast into a lake of fire for eternity. Plus I’d rather be boiling forever in a brimstone fueled hot-tub with Al Franken than attend an everlasting pancake breakfast in the Heavenly Rec Room with a bunch of doughy, short-sleeved men who use the word “fellowship” all the time and give each other creepy hugs. The only reason I’d even want to go to heaven is so that I could see the looks on the faces of the white Christians from Arizona when they see how many amigos in Christ are coming up to join them from Mexico and they realize too late that Faith is God’s Green Card.
Of course, the real reasons that I’m disappointed that the rapture didn’t come is that I didn’t feel like getting a haircut and now I’ve got to decide if I’m going to my 20th High School Reunion or not.
The Reunion thing isn’t a decision I ever expected to make. As a child of the Cold War, I envisioned that when the time came for my 20th Reunion, I’d be much too busy fighting off mutants for the last remaining cans of pumpkin pie filling, Spam and cranberry sauce (not the lumpy kind, though, cause that’s just gross) in post WWIII America to be able to make it for dinner and drinks at the Albany Airport Marriott on Wolf Road. I know that nowadays all the hipsters love Zombies like they’re the undead Decemberists or something but, trust me kids, the Bomb was way scarier. For one thing, Zombies aren’t real, so worrying about them is like getting all worked up about the Easter Bunny Apocalypse (MOVIE PITCH IDEA: Harvey meets Thriller.) The Ruskies, though — they were legit, and they scared the shit out of us with their fur hats, evil accents and ruthless gymnasts. Nobody could trust them. Even Sting wasn’t sure if they loved their children, too. It didn’t help that we were nuked up to the teeth, too, and the always-brilliant American electorate decided to put the fate of humanity in the crinkly old hands of a senile actor who couldn’t decide whether to wipe his ass without the help of his wife’s astrologer and couldn’t remember for sure if he’d wiped it ten minutes later. It was a world so precarious that even Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd could believably blow it up if they got their hands on the right launch codes in the Soviet wilderness. Scary times.
Even though we were scared shitless about the Cold War, it made being a teenager a hell of a lot easier. Not only was geography a piece of cake (that’s America, that’s Europe, that’s where they make VCRs, and the red blob is Evil — any questions?) but nuclear anxiety was the perfect real-world justification for all the crazy shit going on in our feverish little teenage brains . Feeling depressed? Shit, yeah — why wouldn’t you, the world could blow up at any moment. Don’t care about your future? Why should you, the world could blow up at any moment. Didn’t do your Algebra homework? Man, what point is there in doing Algebra homework when the world could blow up at any moment. X2 + Y2 = Fuck it. Couldn’t get girls to talk to you? Screw ‘em. They’d get theirs when the world blew up and they learned all too late that if it wasn’t love then it was the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb that would bring you together. Bitches.
Anyhow, since I never really believed the world would last long enough for me to make it to my 20th Reunion, I was pleasantly surprised when 2011 rolled around I realized the date was fast approaching and I became stricken with nostalgia and a profound desire to attend the event. I actually sought out the organizer of the event, our once and forever Class President (if I had known that Senior Class President was Dictator for Life, I might have paid more attention to the election, but, you know, there was The Bomb and all) got myself added to the Facebook group, enthusiastically friended (BTW- MS Word spell-check refuses to recognize the existence of the words “Facebook” and “friended.” No wonder they’re losing market share to Google) a bunch of old classmates and eagerly awaited my invitation letter. When I told a friend from that era of my life that I would be attending my 20th reunion he asked:
“You’re going to your Bethlehem Central reunion. Didn’t you hate that place?”
The answer was YES. I did hate that place. I hated it with a passion. Each night, when I was done masturbating, I would fantasize about blowing it up during a pep-rally. I went through high school with a box of recipe cards in my mind filled with individual highly detailed revenge fantasies for every single football player who ever bruised my arm playing “two for flinching” and every bow-wearing, NKOTB-loving, fruit-flavored-lip-gloss-applying, collar up, top buttoned, preppie jizz bucket who EVER didn’t sleep with me. It was like living through a John Hughes movie that wasn’t funny and never ended (and I don’t mean Curly Sue.) In a caste system that the Hindus would envy I was a sweatpants-wearing Untouchable with a bad moustache, clunky plastic glasses, a denim jacket three shades too dark, and jeans that were ripped in all the wrong places. Nuclear war would have been a relief, particularly on gym days. The friendships I did make there were forged in a white-hot furnace of absolute loathing for the nightmarish suburban prison we were all trapped in together. All I ever wanted to do was get the hell out. Why would I possibly want to go back?
With the warm taste of bile rising in my throat like a visit from an old friend, I was all ready to rip up the invitation and wipe my ass with it (wait, reverse that) when it arrived. With the gleeful enthusiasm of a CIA Agent on Water Board Wednesday, I viciously tore the envelope open, read the invitation with sheer contempt and then pinned it to the fridge with a ceramic magnet showing the Twin Towers (an item once kitschy, then poignant, now nostalgic) and proceeded to do nothing.
Sure, my high school experiences were mostly miserable and many of my classmates were loathsome and repulsive — but there was some good stuff, too, right? There was the Students for Peace and Survival dance that I organized and then proceeded to skip out on, spending the entire time making out with the date I brought from another school; getting changed with ten other guys in the Men’s room after Merry Wives of Windsor and singing old Dion songs the top of my lungs while slapping out the rhythm on the tiles; skipping class, cruising around in my fellow nerd’s deeply ironic Trans-Am, blasting They Might Be Giants brand new album for 1990, Flood; and, well, other stuff I’m sure. I was, and still am, paralyzed with indecision. Part of me is happy to stay as far away as I possibly can from the aging preppy shitwads that made my life hell and part of me wants to taste the old tater-tots of my youth and fondly reminisce with a bunch of people I once wanted to torture with chainsaws.
That’s why I got all excited about the rapture. Just like I once hoped for nuclear war to bail me out of dodge ball, I was hoping that Jesus would kick off the end of days and get the reunion cancelled, thus making my decision for me. Just like Gorbachev, though, Jesus let me down (that’s 3 strikes, Jesus) and now I’m stuck having to decide what to do. If only I had been born one year later, I could be having my reunion in 2012, and the Mayans would make my decision for me.
At least all this rapture talk was a nice distraction from all those buzzkill news stories about floods in Memphis, earthquakes in Japan and tornadoes in Alabama. Have you seen the weather damage in those places? Seriously depressing. It looks like, oh I don’t know, like the world is ending or something. Maybe if I keep recycling, Al Gore will take me in his Rapture. Not sure if spending eternity with Prius drivers will be much better than Jesus freaks, but at least there will be plenty of hemp to go around in Eco-Heaven, so it’ll be a lot mellower than Casa de Christ over there. Plus Jesus wore Birkenstocks, so something tells me he’ll be sneaking over to our place for veggie dogs and hacky sack all the time, which is cool, ‘cause we’ll get to hang. He got himself crucified so he wouldn’t have to go to his 20th High School reunion, so I bet we’ll have plenty in common.