We were so certain about the future that we planned our year without an escape hatch or lifeboat. The world then spoiled our plans by refusing to stop existing. Now that the apocalypse has failed to materialize, we have no choice but to produce a Top 5 list.
Steven grew up terrified of Santa. Each Christmas Eve, while other children were unable to sleep with excitement, Steven prepared his room like a medieval castle awaiting a siege. After his door was shut tight, he sealed the crack along the bottom with a rolled up towel. Then, he piled pillows and stuffed animals into a barricade. Before anyone could get near him, they would have to get through, Doggy, Banky, Wampus and a dozen other toys standing guard.
We’ve never been so disappointed. December 21st, 2012 came and went like any other day. The world did not end. No earthquakes. No floods. No fire and brimstone from the heavens. The dead did not rise to feast on the living. Nor did ancient Gods lay waste, Godzilla-style, to our cities. We didn’t even catch a cold. It’s enough to shake the very foundation of our faith in numerology.
1957 was a momentous year in American culture. Wham-O introduced the Frisbee. Dr. Seuss published The Cat in the Hat. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved from New York to Los Angeles, a betrayal that Steven’s Brooklyn-born father is still bitter about. On the political front, Congress authorized the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to inconvenience Americans by conducting a yearly survey of their health and lifestyle.
The pattern the CDC has since established is to publish new statistics monthly. The media then takes those figures and converts them into alarming headlines. Numbers showing that obesity continues to trend upward become, “Average American Now Shaped Like Michelin Man.”
Arthur C. Clarke wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Most people assume he was referring to things like computers, smart phones and marital aids. It’s equally possible that he was anticipating this brownie recipe.
These brownies are dairy-free, gluten-free and completely Paleo. They contain no grains. They are composed nearly entirely of almond butter and the chemistry behind them is as impressive as any magic Clark might’ve imagined. We have a reasonable understating of chemistry yet we are stumped by the fact that we can mix up nut butter with a few other ingredients, shove it into the oven and pull out a tray of brownies.
Willie Hector was drafted to the LA Rams football team in 1961. His selection for the team is even more impressive in the context of the time. In the early 1960s, the NFL had unspoken quotas; there was no written rule, but it well understood by everyone involved, from the owners and coaches to players and staff, that teams would limit the number of African-American players. The LA Rams were one of the NFL’s most integrated teams in 1961 with a full 25% of the roster filled by African-American athletes. The Washington Redskins, by contrast, remained an all-white team until 1962 when they integrated only in response to Kennedy Administration threats to evict them from the federally owned District of Columbia Stadium. In other words, at the time Willie entered the NFL, he was part of a large field of black athletes competing for a very limited number of positions on each roster.
The best thing about the Mayan apocalypse is that there is no point in preparing for it. This is the lazy man’s Y2K. For those too young to remember, Y2K was when computers threatened, at the stroke of midnight in the year 2000, to prank us by giving us the wrong time. This sounds silly in retrospect, but at the time people were terrified to the point of hoarding canned food.
In the case of the Mayan apocalypse, hoarding is exactly the wrong strategy. After all, if the entire planet is reduced to a smoldering cinder, your stockpile of MREs and ammunition will do you no good. If the Earth is doomed, consuming is the smart move. To that end, we’ve been drinking the top end out of our wine cellar.
Can you hold our drinks while we go up to the podium to collect our Nobel Prize?
“Ladies and gentlemen of the Selection Committee, esteemed colleagues and people who snuck in here because they heard about the open bar. This is a huge surprise. Neither of us are doctors. We have only one advanced degree between us. Steven has a Masters degree in Godzilla. Hardly the background from which one expects recognition on this level . . .”