I thought I was all set for doomsday. Huddled beneath my kitchen table with a helmet strapped tightly to my head and a flyswatter in my tightly-clenched fist, I kept a keen eye on the digital clock by my side.
5:57 p.m. — I wondered what side of the ledger I’d be on when Harold Camping’s prediction for the end of the world came to fruition in three short minutes. I took a quick glance at my beloved pug, Bailey, who sat idly by and casually licked herself and I just knew inside that she was not going to be one of the chosen few to be lifted into heaven. She had chewed on far too many pillows to make the cut, and I felt a little sorry for her.
5:58 p.m. — I thought I heard something outside. Too shaken to stand up and look outside my window, I took a peek at my shar-pei Guinness. She had no chance. Chronic flatulence and a disturbing habit of chasing every bird, squirrel and lizard that made it into our back yard made her a near-certain casualty of the coming rapture. I gave her a slight pat on her head and wished her well.
5:59 p.m. — Too nervous to think clearly, I forced myself to make a mental catalog of all my transgressions. Wasn’t looking good for me, and I let my mind wander off to the good things I’ve done over the course of my lifetime instead. Let’s see ... well, there was that time I ... no. Or the one night I ... hmm.
6 p.m. — Go time. I grabbed my dogs tightly and squeezed. Bailey licked my face. Guinness passed gas. The end is nigh.
6:01 p.m. — Big exhale. Feeling as if I dodged a bullet, I took off my makeshift armor, climbed out from underneath the table and made a sandwich. Guinness started barking at a bird out the back window and Bailey went to town on a sofa pillow. The world was right again.
Well, that might not have been exactly what happened, now that I think back on the situation. Actually, I was at my nephew’s birthday party and somebody make a joke at 6 p.m. that we were all still there. That was the first time during the entire day that the conversation was even broached.
But, of course, laughter ensued and somebody posed the following question: “What are these people saying now? ‘Oops?’”
I imagined in my head that it had to be pretty awkward to be around the people who were just certain the world was going to come to an end, only to see them looking at the clock in quiet disbelief. It’s like when you say something completely inappropriate at exactly the wrong time, only to have the nun standing behind you on the bus clear her throat to announce her presence and ...
But I digress.
A reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle caught up with Camping outside his home on Sunday. He apparently said he was “flabbergasted” that the world didn’t end.
“It has been a really tough weekend,” said Camping. “I’m looking for answers ... But now I have nothing to say.”
One of Camping’s followers, a 38-year-old tractor trailer driver named Keith Bauer, told the L.A. Times that he took a road trip with his family to see the Grand Canyon before the world ended and maxed out his credit cards. “Worst-case scenario for me,” he said, “I got to see the country.”
I’m trying to wrap my mind around that one a little. So, you feel as if you’re one of the chosen ones who have lived life the right way and will ascend to paradise, and you reward yourself by trying to defraud your credit card company? Does that seem a bit odd to anybody else?
But, of course, that’s not the end of this story.
Camping went on his radio show earlier this week and set the record straight once and for all.
“We’ve always said Oct. 21 was the day,” he said. “The only thing we didn’t understand was the spirituality of May 21.”
Get your helmets ready — less than five months to go.