Island Packet (Stolen Hastily From November 2009) — ‘What do you think about this 2012 madness?” Paul Mitchell asks me via the newsroom’s instant-message system earlier this week. Paul Mitchell is a line of high-end hair care products, but he also is an actual human person who works in the newsroom. At one time Paul, being of a considerably younger vintage, failed to correctly identify Bruce Springsteen on the television. Illogically, we’re friends anyway.
The movie looks like silliness, I reply, but on the other hand, “Independence Day” was a pretty great movie in which many objects were indiscriminately exploded, such as the White House and Lone Star from “Spaceballs,” so it might be fun.
“Not the movie,” Paul says, an icy fear creeping noticeably into his online voice. “All I gotta say is I’m panicking if that mess comes my way in three years.”
Paul was, I surmised, referring to the Mayan prophecy that says the end of times will take place in the year 2012. It’s also the hook of “2012,” a new movie by destroyed-landmark fetishist and director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) that stars John Cusack, both of whom, it turns out, appear in a strong percentage of Mayan prophecies. In their lore, Cusack is actually immortal.
Now, I’m not here to debate the legitimacy of Mayan prophecies or anything, but I do know this: apparently they believe this pretty seriously, because I haven’t seen any Mayans around here in weeks.
But I did my best to reassure Paul. Well, I replied after some thought, if you only have three years left, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out who Bruce Springsteen is (which is a joke — he knows, having attended a 2008 concert in Charleston which, and I’m quoting here, “rocked his face off”).
Then, I said, you should probably dig a nice underground bunker. It worked in “The Road,” although I suggest that Paul’s bunker should encourage much less corpse-eating. But that’s just me. I don’t want to tell anyone how to run his bunker or anything.
“OK, well, I saw the trailer for that movie and people are saying it’s gonna happen and I want u to tell me that it’s just Mayan folklore,” he continued. He says “u” because he’s like 15 years old and that’s what young, speedy people do to conserve time. They also say “obvs” and “whatevs.” I am lucky if I can keep up with like 40 percent of the conversations in the newsroom anymore.
It’s Mayan folklore, I replied, trying to appear the picture of calm, which is not easy to do to someone who believes with some urgency that we’ll all be a floating space smudge in the near future. Besides, you don’t want to use your last precious time alive to absorb sci-fi movies. I tell him he needs to get on his Britney Spears thing QUICK LIKE because time is running out.
Paul has a Britney Spears thing. When everyone thought she was a Marlboro-chaining hilljack who kept running her cars into things, Paul loved Britney Spears. When everyone got angry at the way she kept dropping her children on pavement and lip-synching her custody hearings, Paul loved Britney Spears. To this day, Paul travels great distances to see Britney Spears. But Paul has never actually touched Britney Spears, and I have, and Paul hates this.
“I know,” he replied to my Britney advice, “So much to do.”
The Endtimes actually is not that big of a deal to me, as I have some serious credit card balances and could frankly use the slate-wiping. But I’m reasonably sure that the world will not be ending in 2012, so I’ll keep going along with that, until I hear anything further from the Mayans. Paul still seems frightened, but cautiously optimistic.
“Well,” he IMed, “at least I got to see Springsteen,” he said. Salvation!