With the impending Maya-predicted* apocalypse, this could be the last column of mine that you read. (There will be one more before Dec. 21, but at that point, who will have time for newspapers?) Really, though, it’s much more likely that the world continues, you read many more, and this whole mess will be remembered as nothing more than the excuse you gave yourself when you had a second dessert.
Don’t you think the Mayas would find this whole “So, apparently we foretold of the apocalypse?” thing hilarious? Feature-length films have been produced, scientists’ email inboxes have been flooded and Lowcountry humor columns have been written addressing an assumption made because a civilization stopped counting the days in the future for a little while. It’s not like they foretold of any preparations for a big event: no descriptions of proposed offerings to Kukulkan, no army preparation orders in the event of a fight, no Facebook invites to end-of-the-world parties.
But somehow we picked up that the Mayas have forecasted the apocalypse. And, why? Because they’ve made a few astronomical predictions that came true?
Could you imagine if that happened to us?
A group of people has inhabited North America thousands of years in the future. Bumble, an anthropologist, uncovers an ancient horoscope book. Upon scientific analysis, he finds that the book accurately depicts the days of the year and the planets in the sky. What an advanced civilization!
The book makes daily and yearly predictions. Some come true: Yesterday, Bumble DID need to trust his instinct to make a difficult decision; last year, a relationship WASN’T in the cards (At least he thinks. What is “cards”?). But others fall short: He bought an electric facebrush during a retrograde Mercury, and it has been the best purchase he has made all year. Still, the book’s accuracy stuns Bumble.
Hmm. But the book ends at its civilization’s year 2012. It just stops. Given the book’s previous correct predictions, Bumble’s only natural conclusion is that these people have predicted that the apocalypse is coming on the corresponding day in Bumble’s civilization.
Years later, everybody talks about the end of the world, but mostly just as an excuse to have a second dessert.
We would laugh at Bumble, right? And not just because his name is Bumble.
In the coming week, you are going to hear a lot about the Mayas (and probably even more about the Mayans). I don’t think anybody ACTUALLY believes that the world is going to end, but we’re going to talk about it anyway. And when we do, just remember how silly it actually is, put down the cookie, and think of Bumble and his electric facebrush.
*For quick clarification of a pet peeve: AP style says “Maya” is a noun, and “Mayan” is an adjective, as in “People think the Mayas predicted a doomsday because the Mayan calendar ends.” Still, guy-in-the-gym-locker-room style still rules in favor of “Mayan” in all cases, as in “Only two people in the locker room, and their lockers are right next to each other? Must be the Mayans.”
Or, Andy says, Bumble’s horoscope book ends in 2012 because the world actually did end, and Bumble is also doomed. Email Andy at email@example.com.