Columns » Bob Lancaster

The big ol' good 'un looms


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I still think the big crash is coming, probably this year. Not because of the Mayan calendar, but because we slimed our epoch with stupidity until it couldn't bear up under the weight of it and the shame of it and the embarrassment.

Those few of us who survive it will be dressed in skins this time next year, or the year after, gnawing raw meat off of bones and then bashing each otherses' heads in with the bones before twirling them up in the air and watching them copter down as spaceships like in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

We'll stand there watching agape, a la Goober Pyle — no, I guess it's Gomer who so often stands agape, blinking audibly like Zorak — astonished. Then realization will morph into lamentation and it will come down on us like rain. We'll send out scouting parties not to reopen libraries or to secure caches of how-to technology manuals, but to plunder wrecked abandoned Twinkie delivery trucks.

Back to basics after the crash. Back to so dumb it's numb.

There'll be no TV in the caves, except for the channel out of China, and anyway the electrical outlet will merely sigh when we plug the sumbitch into it. Dragging a Serta mattress all the way up and over the ledge will be something of a hoot. There won't be one McDonalds's open in the Western Hemisphere — or if there is, all it will serve will be some semi-petrified fries.

Wash it down if you dare with some chanced-upon frack brine cupped in your hand, the dribble shaken from your whiskers like a wet dog does it.

Look around and see the new day.

There won't be a politician or investment banker whose despised carcass isn't hanging upside down on a scaffold like the Sioux used to do it, and the only squatters at these grisly scenes will be Fred Phelps and his Westboro stalwarts with signs calling both the dead and the few straggler quick on the scene fags.

"God hates you," the signs will say, and for once in Bro. Fred's sorry-ass span the evidence will tilt in his favor.

What's not for a Deity to hate?

Suppose you were God and were obliged thereby to sit through a Charles Krauthammer segment where he pretends to not be Nosferatu's even-creepier offspring, all appearances notwithstanding. Suppose further that you, God, then changed the channel — probably not even needing the remote — and alit on the old 700 Club bobblehead expounding on how the unwary can "catch" possession from watching movies that "open the door for demons to come through," this as yet one more way of harvesting last nickels from warehoused old-timers with already sticky brains. What would you do in the face of such provocation? Grin and bear it?

Everywhere you look, spooks and scammers, toe-suckers and whizzers into brass bowls. What's not to hate? What's not to pelt with meteors and bring walls thundering down?

But this big crash won't be on Him. It won't be on his nemesis Ned. Won't be on some Indian calendar or harmonic convergence or configuration of bird bones. It won't be on imaginary yellowcake, or on somebody getting too big for his britches. You know and I know and the American people know who it'll be on, though the Wall Street Journal will surely bite its tongue before admitting it.

We'll see in retrospect that a hundred times a day we had options that might've given it pause. And it's not so much that we called it wrong 99 times out of that number, as much as we didn't call it at all. We didn't have the heart or the brains or the noive. We had other fish to fry. We had somewhere else we had to be. As Bette Davis told the bossman in the cotton shanty: "I'd like to kiss you but I just washed my hair."

Those missed chances to razz stupidity, to put it to flight at least in microcosm, add up. But we could only shy and shilly. We let ourselves go to bellyfat. We settled for the second-rate. We let too much of it slide. We watered too much of it down. We took too much of it for granted. We agreed to live and let live. We doubled up trying to catch up. We went along to get along. We went with the flow even when there wasn't one. We put too much stock in euphemism. We came to assume that somebody else would cover for us. We wanted to hog it all, and if we couldn't have it all, we didn't want anybody else getting any. We stood on the shoulders of giants and came to think that we were the giants. We rationalized some pretty horrible crap. And then more and horribler crap. And worst of all, we gave stupidity an inch and it took a mile. It took a mile and then it took over.

Madness, the young survivor at the railroad bridge called it.

But this time it's not madness so much as it's Dumb and Dumber being dumber and dumb. It's the crash, the big old good 'un or the good old big 'un, awaiting their r.s.v.p.


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