My roommate and I started playing the Apocalypse Game this past summer during the congressional standoff over the debt ceiling. I had driven her to the mall that Sunday afternoon to purchase a new camera for an upcoming trip, and she took me out for Chinese food as a thank you. I remember these details, because what ensued was a conversation on the crisis, which was just beginning to seep into the mainstream media, an explanation of the role and history of the debt ceiling, and a conversation about the role of the Chinese as creditors–which I later felt awkward about since we were the only patrons in the restaurant and I was sure the waitstaff was listening and thinking I was doing a poor job of summarizing the comparisons between the Chinese and American economies; this is the kind of thing I worry about when I speak in public. At the end of my explanation of the possible outcomes of United States default, stock market free falls, and the end of Western civilization, we paused, silent, chewing our scallion pancakes thoughtfully, then mutually agreed, only somewhat facetiously, that it would be a good idea to have a plan.
We had discovered many months before, in the kind of winter boredom that sets you at perusing cookbooks and wishing you had the fortitude to leave your couch and go to the store, that our ancient copy of The Joy of Cooking, inherited from my father, who inherited it from his mother, who swears it wasn’t hers (book genealogy is a thing in my family) contained explicit instructions on how to skin, butcher, and prepare a range of creatures including, but not limited to, deer, squirrel, rabbit, turtle, and armadillo. We figured there was no need to study up, since we could always pack up the reference in a moment of crisis. However, it occurred to us to consider that we might want to bring along a person who would be willing, if and when the time came, to de-armor an armadillo and that we, as a vegetarian and a vegetarian-who-occasionally-eats-cheeseburgers-but-only-if-they’re-practically-burnt-and-I-never-have-to-see-the-raw-meat, were under-qualified. It was then that we set about building our Apocalypse Team.
The Apocalypse Game became an entertaining way to pass muggy evenings of avoiding research on our respective thesis topics, and a good conversation starter with friends and strangers. My boyfriend volunteered to be our mechanic, and my roommate’s boyfriend, a martial arts instructor, was impressed into service as our team defense specialist. My roommate decided that if she were given butchered armadillo meat she could probably do something with it, and named herself the chef of our growing ragtag crew. I, having worked for many years at a tourist information center and considering myself map-competent, named myself the official navigator. We figured we would need to collect a computer specialist so that we can rebuild communication devices and figure out how to charge our iPods after the collapse of civilization, otherwise we would end up fighting about the correct pronunciation of the first few bars of “Circle of Life” for the rest of our nasty, brutish, and short lives. We also considered the necessity of a medical professional of some sort to make those lives potentially less short, at least.
But that was as far as our planning got. Hurricane Irene started sliding up the East Coast, and suddenly the whole thing seemed a lot less entertaining as we actually started doing some of the things we had talked about, like writing the physical addresses and phone numbers of all of our important personal contacts down and stocking up on candles, water, and non-perishables in preparation for what was estimated as up to a week without power. We would have done better to invest in a boat, since we never lost power but were surrounded on every side by overflowing river basins. We weathered the weather, the school year started, and we lost interest in the Apocalypse Game in favor of the more pressing Avoiding Being Yelled at by Faculty Committee Game. However, as economic collapse looms for other nations, natural disasters continue to feel increasingly erratic, and the Republican candidates seem to be campaigning to be either the worst Village People cover band of all time or a visual representation of the DSM-IV, we continue to return to it in times of strife.
Last weekend, as our Halloween party devolved into everyone who was without power charging their phones and showering at our apartment, the Apocalypse Game was a favorite topic of conversation. My roommate and I, after a few glasses of bourbon, came to two brilliant conclusions: 1) we needed to have a Nightmare Before Christmas-themed Christmas party with our leftover Halloween plates and decor; and, more importantly, 2) since we would need some kind of transportation for our reference materials on armadillo hunting, atlases, and lost literary classics of the sunny days of our youth, we should get a big van and become the Traveling Librarians of the Apocalypse (I totally already called dibs on the band name, by the way).
A good Persephoneer is always prepared (for brunch and an afternoon at the theater, in the case of this particular Persephoneer – but we’ll cross that bridge when the world ends, right?)! So what talents are you bringing to your Apocalypse Team and who else is on it?