It probably happens sometime when we are about ten or eleven years old. We realize that the world isn’t just about G.I. Joe toys, Barbies, and Disneyland. It’s a dangerous place, and it’s out to get you. This morning, with another birthday approaching, I couldn’t help but think about the things that were supposed to have extinguished me (along with the rest of humanity) in my lifetime.
It all started with reading an article in The National Enquirer. World Will End In 1980,Claims Expert. Below the caption there was a picture of the cited expert. He was a wild-eyed and scruffily bearded man wearing what looked like a bathrobe. He was sitting on a beach with a human skull in the sand before him. He seemed like a man who knew what he was talking about – to a ten year old.
But the world did not come to end, neither with T.S. Elliot’s whimper nor the fiery conflagration that this tabloid hippie foresaw. Since then, we’ve all outlived a number of Doomsday forecasts. It’s reassuring to think that:
There was no nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the 1980’s. This was the top of everyone’s list. For a time, at least a third of Hollywood movies were devoted to this scenario.
The Japanese didn’t take over. Remember when their economy was soaring back in the Reagan years? Surely, they were going to buy up America and gain through economics what they could not attain with Pearl Harbor.
We did not all die from AIDS. Believe me, I am not making light of those coping with HIV. But at least these days a diagnosis is not a death sentence. In the eighties, we were convinced that mosquitoes would spread it to everybody. The only survivors would be those who lived in bug free environments like the South Pole. Imagine that, a world repopulated by nerdy arctic researchers.
Speaking of bugs, the killer bees were also waiting patiently for their crack at the Apocalypse. They wiped out Michael Caine, Fred McMurry, Ben Johnson, and Richard Widmark in the The Swarm. Our turn, that movie assured us, would come soon enough.
The Anti-Christ did not take control. This one is truly hard to believe. According to my fundamentalist relatives, Bill Clinton was definitely the Anti-Christ. Then it was Obama. No, wait, it’s gotta be Hillary. All three are now effectively vanquished. This has been tough on many preachers in my area, since they now are now stuck delivering rather boring sermons about loving thy neighbor and caring for the needy. “That sort of stuff,” one told me “just doesn’t fill the pews.”
All of this is just to reassure my liberal friends, and I have many, that Donald Trump is not the Anti-Christ. Or the next Hitler, since most of my liberal friends believe neither in Christ nor his antithesis. We survived Obama, Clinton, Bush The First, Bush The Second, Hillary The Almost; we can survive everything. The looming disasters predicted by the movies just haven’t materialized.
Except for one. My Chinese boyfriend sometimes serves tofu. I’m pretty sure that it really is the Soylent Green mentioned in the eponymous film. And any fan of the doomsday genre knows what Soylent Green is made from.
Two last notes.
Yes, I did say boyfriend. I’m a gay guy who lives deep in the woods and only comes out for healthy meals with his younger Chinese fiance.
More importantly, this December 7th, a day which still lives in infamy. Please remember World War II vets. I proudly served in the military when not a whole lot was happening. The surviving vets of WWII actually did save the world from destruction.