Monday, October 1, 2012
Throwing Spam at the Apocalypse
Is there anything more depressing than talking about The Apocalypse? Talk about the Apocalypse is inescapable online and on our car radios and televisions. But what do people mean when they say the word Apocalypse?
Biblical Apocalypse. This one is easy. It's about the Anti-Christ showing up to cause all sorts of grisly trouble before Jesus comes back. Plagues, famine, international wars, mass murder, enslavement, brother killing brother killing sister killing strangers. Fire in the sky. People get pretty wrapped up in those scenarios--and they are scary as hell. But then Jesus will come and all will be well. It's just the lead-in events that are going to be tough. How does one prepare for plagues and famine and mass murder? I don't think there are enough MREs or ammo in the neighborhood to cover that.
Medical Apocalypse. Ostensibly there are germs in laboratories--some not too far away from my midwestern house--that could get loose and kill us all within a few weeks. One big sniff and sneeze and someone gets on an airplane for that long dreamed of trip to Paris and poof! We're piles of corpses seething goo. Do you have your hospital grade masks on hand? And antibiotics? Preferably powerful ones that will kill anything. Where does a person get such things? Do I need to make friends with a pharmacist? And do pharmacists have their own, secret stockpiles of those kinds of drugs? I'm skeptical. Given the numbers of people who already die from incurable bacterial infections they pick up in hospitals or from swimming in lovely ponds, I don't think there are magic pills anywhere.
Natural disasters. Are they all going to come at once? Hurricanes generally announce themselves. Tornados, too, though with considerably shorter lead-times. Earthquakes are not just a California/Haiti/Japan problem. Who the heck knows when something twenty miles beneath the earth's surface is going to snap. What do we really know about the inner workings of the earth? I've always wanted to go deep into a mine to see inside the earth in person. Strike that--I've always wanted to be the kind of person who was brave enough to go miles down into a mine (and God Bless the people who are). But if you read my last blog, you know I can't even handle 5 minutes in a coffin-sized box. In my imagination, the nature-borne Apocalypse will start in the oceans. Our friends at NOAA say that the "ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface." That ocean is pretty darn deep, as well. Our house is high up on a hill, and my husband likes to say that if there's a flood that will reach us, then everything will be gone anyway.
Nuclear War. Another oldie but goody. I'm old enough to have gone to schools that still had bomb shelters. By the seventies, everyone just found them a little embarrassing, and I don't think anyone actually knew where they were located. Probably somewhere near those mysterious boiler rooms. I heard some guy on talk radio the other day scoff at a caller who was worried about living near a California port, and proximity to shipping containers that might contain dirty bombs. The host told him that radiation could be easily avoided--that everyone would sensibly remove themselves to non-contaminated areas. He went on to compare nuclear radiation to a boxcar full of rattlesnakes. Um, okay. The one point I agree with him on is that nuclear events are likely to be fairly localized--by countries, cities, etc. Of course the effects on health and agriculture might certainly throw us into true Apocalypse mode.
Alien Disease or Zombie Intervention. I have to put these into the medical Apocalypse category. No, fear of zombies is not fear of Societal Others. It really is about not wanting to be infected with a disease that makes you want to chow down on other people. And if you've seen The Andromeda Strain, you already know all you need to know about alien disease control.
What kinds of Apocalypse have I missed?
It's a thrill to think about how the world might end. Goodness knows a lot of my friends have made a darn good living speculating about it in books and on film. But no one really wants that stuff to be real.
I think that people like to talk about The Apocalypse because they're afraid of much smaller things. It's easier to think about stuff that has a very low likelihood of happening than it is to think about the tornado at the door.
And so we get silly public service announcements about being READY. Ready for the unknown. Ready to take responsibility for ourselves and our families because Mommy and Daddy aren't standing by to fix things or drive the family to the beach house until the storm blows over.
That's where Spam comes in. I keep thinking I need to put together awesome Go Bags for my family. Sturdy backpacks full of energy bars, a lightweight blanket, fireproof underwear, personal weapons, instant water pills. All that good stuff. But what I have is Spam. And tuna fish. Water and refried beans. That's it. Really, that 4 can pack of Spam could probably keep the four of us alive for a week. Not, uh, comfortably. And we'd be very, very thirsty. It's funny, because we don't even eat Spam regularly. I bought the low-fat variety for the hubs a while back because it's tasty with eggs. And, seriously, I loved it as a kid. We never got to have it when my (sensible) dad was home. But when he was out of town, it was definitely on the menu.
So, why is Spam featured so prominently in my mini-Apocalypse preparations? Probably for the same reason that people buy junk food when they learn a hurricane or a snowstorm is coming. When you feel worried, are you really going to reach for a can of peas? A thawing box of spinach? Okay. Maybe some people would feel duty-bound to only stock up healthful food, but what about when the neighbors run out of their Spam and show up looking for yours? Just go on and try to hand them a can of spinach.
Do tell me how you prepare for The Apocalypse--mini, or otherwise.