Apocalypse Now

As the clock ticked down on the twentieth century, people prepared for the absolute worst. A simple timekeeping error called Y2K was about to crash all computers and implode the entire planet, thrusting the world into eternal darkness and ending life as we had come to know it. There was talk of the impending apocalypse, of utter anarchy; at the very least, the economy would plunge even lower than it had during the Great Depression. Vicious were-people would descend from their craggy bluffs and gorge on our supple organs for energy, using our blood for precious dune-buggy fuel.

And then the clock struck twelve and nothing happened.

Perverts logging on to masturbate were not sent hurtling through the air in Backdraft-like explosions, their computers vomiting chunks of wire and glass in fantastic blasts across the continent. I was still able to receive that life-changing e-mail about a Nigerian gold mogul who was having a hard time smuggling money out of the country because of the corrupt government, and were I to just give him my bank-account information, he would transfer his wealth directly to me, and for my meager services, he would reward me with half his fortune. To this day, I regret that decision.

Basically, all Y2K really meant was that my mom bought a lot of bottled water and firewood that still lines the shelves of the garage, and a lot of dyslexic sex fiends were fruitlessly excited.

But hysteria has a way of ebbing and flowing, and hysteria is flowing again, ladies and gentlemen, flowing like What's So Funny after a few too many cocktails and somebody's done brought the beat. Mother Earth's voracious reclaiming of parts of the United States during hurricanes Katrina and Rita has awakened the spasmodic soccer mom in our government, with state officials across the country eagerly humping whatever emergency-preparedness organization they can find until little safety pamphlets somehow pop out.

Last week, Mayor John Hickenlooper and Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton got in the game to push READYColorado, packing their own READY kits -- packets with everything they'd need to hold them for at least 72 hours in case of disaster -- on the 16th Street Mall, while nearby transients looked longingly at the politicos' food and water. Then Hick and Norton got all Japhy Ryder and took their kits to Mount Evans for a long weekend. It was reported that Hickenlooper devoured both his and Norton's rations within eight hours and had to be physically restrained from killing Norton and feasting on her buttocks like some modern-day Alfred Packer.

If that isn't enough to convince you to start packing, then consult your Prepare Colorado flier, conveniently hung on doorknobs across the city last week. Brought to you by the American Red Cross and those disaster wizards at Comcast, it urges you to build a kit, train yourself in first aid, volunteer in the community, give blood and, my personal favorite, "Discuss the disasters that can happen where you live or work." That's right, everyone, in the middle of your work day, while computers hum and fax machines chirp and employees silently hate their lives, stand up in your chair so that your head and torso pop out above the cubicles and scream, "Co-workers, I'd like to discuss an impending disaster! There's a very good chance that a disaster could strike right here in this office, maybe even tomorrow, killing dozens, perhaps hundreds of us, and we need to address that!"

Congratulations: Now you're out of a job and you have an FBI file.

Pardon me if I don't trust these so-called expert suggestions, but I once saw a documentary about global warming called The Day After Tomorrow that taught me a little better. In it, this one cop advises Jake Gyllenhaal that he and his friends should abandon the library in New York City where they're staying and walk south, toward warmer weather, because this super-massive mega-blizzard is on its way. But Jake Gyllenhaal's dad is Dennis Quaid, and he's some sort of weather-expert scientist guy, and he talked to Jake on the phone and told him to wait out the storm because it was so intense that it was foolish to try to escape it on foot. And what happened? That cop and all the people he was leading froze to death before they ever got out of New York.

You just can't argue with science.

While it's fine and dandy that the government wants to help prepare us for disasters, it's damn near impossible to predict when and on what level they're going to hit. Besides, anyone who watched the horrific hurricane coverage already knows exactly what you need in the event of a disaster: a carton of smokes, a handle of Jack, and a shotgun with a whole lot of bullets. Oh, and some makeup to make sure you look white.

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Adam Cayton-Holland