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February 18, 2013

What's At The End Of The Road

The-road-dadcentricI have a thing about the end of the world, namely that I believe in it. Worse still, I’m sure it will happen in my lifetime. According to a life-expectancy quiz I took this week, I should make it to age 77 assuming nothing random happens to me like choking on a marshmallow or being hit by a flaming meteor (which we all know could totally happen).  In any case, simple math dictates I’ve got 37 good years ahead of me. This is plenty time for either A, the Democrats to confiscate all of our guns and force us into same-sex marriages thus leaving us defenseless against a Chinese invasion or B, the Republicans take control and plunge 98% of America into extreme poverty after funding a pork barrel project that results in a zombie army, hence setting the stage for a World War Z.

Truthfully speaking, my beliefs on the earth’s demise are aligned with the events prophesied in the book of Revelations which are totally plausible according to a Discovery Channel special and Kirk Cameron. Nutty, I know, but a guy’s got to believe in something, and besides, what’s the harm? If I’m wrong you all get to come back to this post and tell me, “I told you so” in the comments.

Lest you think I’m about to go on a religious tear, allow me to put your mind at ease. I’m not. Unlike the crazies that manage to end up on FOX and Friends, I actually respect other people’s beliefs because who’s to say I’m 100% right. This reminds me of a joke.

A man dies and meets Saint Peter at the pearly gates. “Let me show you around,” Saint Peter says and he leads the man down the streets of gold to a large building where people are bowed down and praying. “Those are the Muslims,” Saint Peter points out. The two then walk a bit further until they come to another building with people reading from large scrolls. “That’s the Jews,” Saint Peter says. After walking some more, Saint Peter and the man arrive at third building where the singing of hymns could be heard from the windows.  At this point in the tour Saint Peter turns to the man. “We need to be very quiet,” he says. “And why is that?” the man asks. In reply Saint Peter sighs. “Well, these are the Fundamentalists. They think they’re the only ones here.”  

My point here, getting back to the end of the world, is that we likely see it going down differently, and that’s cool, which I probably could’ve summed up in that one simple sentence rather than rambling on and offending people with my religious commentary. (Apologies to the Fundamentalists and to those who like shorter blog posts. Moving on.)

So why do I bring up the Apocalypse? I was having breakfast with a couple of guys the other day when one of them mention how he told his wife that he didn’t want to have kids because he didn’t want them growing up in the world we live in. This got my attention. Personally I don’t think the world as a whole is that bad… for the moment that is. However, if reality TV is any sort of barometer for modern society, then the end is near.

There’s that song that goes, “I believe the children are our future / Teach them well and let them lead the way,” which I think is true, but then I see Honey Boo Boo being lifted up as a cultural icon and I think, “OMG, we’re putting this sassy, curly-haired chunk of ham on t-shirts? No wonder we rank below Poland (Remember Polack jokes?) in academic performance!”  

BuckwildcastHoney Boo Boo, however, comes off as scholarly compared to the cast MTV’s Buckwild. Never heard of it? According to Wikipedia it’s a “series [that] follows the lives of nine young adults in… West Virginia who each have a great love for the small-town American life and seemingly create their own unique ways to enjoy life in the rural area surrounding them.” Sounds quaint, right? Yeah, I watched one clip where this redneck kid recounts how he basically date-raped a girl while they were out mudding in his 4x4. Ladies and gentlemen, behold our future; step aside and let them lead the way— straight to Armageddon!

You know, now that I think about it, a mild apocalyptic shake up might not be such a bad thing. Natural selection could take over and the world would be rid of all the Honey Boo Boos and morally bereft, West Virginian hillbillies. Honestly, the gene pool could use a little bleach. Look out Poland—America’s back, baby! BooYa!

Anytime someone starts talking about their fear over having to raise kids in such dark times I am reminded of the movie, The Road,  a story of a father’s struggle to get his son to safety as they crisscross a horrific, post-apocalyptic countryside.  (Incidentally, the movie was filmed near my rural hometown, and boy, do we nail the look and feel of post-apocalyptic!)

I’ve actually never seen movie, but my wife has read the book and between her rants over Cormac McCarthy’s stylistic liberties and Viggo Mortensen’s pained expression depicted on a movie poster, I’ve pieced together that conditions must have been quite harrowing for father and son.  One of these days I’ll confirm this for myself. I mean I’m sure it’s a great film and all but I’ve been hesitant to watch it after learning there’s a character referred to in the credits as “man who eats baby,” something I mentioned on Facebook to which one of my friends jokingly asked for clarification as to whether it was a man who eats a baby (singular) or a man who eats baby (plural). The latter of these instantly conjured up the image of a cannibalistic version of Takeru Kobayashi, the Guinness Record holder for hot dog eating. I could just see him racing against the clock as he jammed in one baby after another, bun and all—four… five… six. The vision was enough to keep me from watching The Road a bit longer.

Apocalypse or no apocalypse, I do admit to worrying about the kind of world my children will inherit. Will it be a scorched landscape roamed by fat, sassy, toothless, baby-eating, rapey red-neck zombies, or will it be a something better? Who’s to say? There’s no real way to tell for sure, which isn’t much of a consolation when we know evil is out there lurking about.  

For the moment, however, all we have is the here and now where in one sense we’re much like the father in McCarthy’s bleak tale. Each day we’re guiding and protecting our children in an uncertain world, because, as my breakfast buddy’s wife reminded him when they had their first child, the future needs good people.  



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