Throughout the centuries, many people — from the highly-educated-but-slightly-cracked to the poorly-cultured-and-very-nutty — have been screaming that the end of our world was approaching. Obviously, these misguided fools and instigating charlatans were wrong, but that hasn’t stopped other individuals from joining in on the fun. In recent years, another in the long line of wacky speculations that the world is going to end came to light: something scientists like to call “this stupid 2012 crap.”
Do I believe the world will end in 2012? Er, no, kids, I do not. I may be prone to drinking until I’m barely able to stand, only to crawl up on stage to sing Journey’s “Separate Ways” to the delight of a bar-full of partying Filipinos, but I’m not senseless enough to think life as we know it will cease in 2012 — not without some sort of cataclysmic catalyst, that is, such as the election of Sarah Palin into the presidency (for example).
Nevertheless, for those of you who feel that the Mayan’s Long Count calendar doohickey accurately foretells the conclusion of everything we know (you are, no doubt, the same people that thought that whole “Y2K” thing was going to be it for us), I offer up this completely logical and plausible theory.
OK, so as we all know (or at least should know), the Mayans (whom some of you keep erroneously referring to as “the Aztecs”), set up shop roughly around 2000 BC; at least, that’s about the best anyone’s been able to tell thus far. Now, picture if you will, some 1500 years down the road or so, a very young lad — whom we’ll call “Bob” for this hypothesis — has been assigned to create an entire calendar system for the whole of the Maya civilization.
Bob is as thrilled as he could be. This is the biggest honor that has ever been asked of any human being. The calendar is a revolutionary concept; one far more epic than the creation of the world itself in the early 3100s (BC)! But, being as that he did not possess a feathered quill, pencil, a weird-ass stylus-thingy, or any other variety of efficient writing utensil than the chisel at his beck and call, poor Bob had to carve out the whole calendar by hand.
Let’s fast-forward a bit. Bob goes from a virile young man to a feeble old one over the course of many, many years — and many, many big round rocks, as Bob was prone to messing up on the calendar and did not enjoy today’s luxury of an “Undo” command — all the while carving out the calendar that he had been given the nearly-holy task of creating. Why, he’s been at it so long, the very men who bestowed the honor of creating and completing the calendar have all since passed on. Essentially, Bob is now very much akin to a man who started out in the mail room of a big business, moved his way up to the top, and later became the store’s elderly janitor: everyone sees him, but has no idea that’s he’s there.
Finally, one day, after many years of toil, trial and error (not to mention all of those big round rocks), Bob finishes his assigned project — before keeling over dead. He has died from natural causes, having worked on the calendar almost all of his life. Unfortunately, the younger generation that came to follow Bob’s could never fathom his antiquated and confusing method of calendar-carving — much in the same way that Bob could never figure out why all the young Mayan boys wore feathers in their hats.
Since no one else has so much as an inkling of a clue as to what they should do with Bob’s calendar, they wheel it into the “Old Shit We Can’t Figure Out” exhibit at the local museum, much like we see VideoDisc and top-loading Betamax players in today’s antique shops. Eventually, the Mayan people begin to dissipate, disappear and/or dissolve into the stories of legend (only to have people refer to them as “the Aztecs” a millennium-and-a-half later). When the Spanish came-a-marchin’ on in many moons after Bob’s demise, they discovered a strange circular object and said “Que es esto?” — unawares that this impressive object was once the very coal that burned Bob’s fire of life for so many years. Instead, the Spaniards used it as a big-ass coffee table.
Centuries later, our modern so-called “civilized” man has had a chance to study Bob’s calendar. In addition to how utterly complex it was for having been created in such a “primitive” time, scholars note that the calendar has an end-date. One academic speculates that the calendar’s creator probably died before he could finish it. Another researcher imagines that the creator most likely quit his job due to a wages dispute, after determining the Mayan higher-ups to have been notoriously stingy. Another intellectual claims Bob simply said “To Hell with it! I’ve had it with carving this stupid calendar and I’m transferring to another department immediately!”
From there on in, the Mayan Calendar continues to astonish historians for the extraordinary feat Bob put into it. Well, that is until some fucking crackpot comes along and says, “Oh, this means the world is going to end on December 21, 2012! You know, just like the last time it ended on December 31, 1999…and all the other hundreds of times before that!” Sadly, there are millions of people the world over dumb enough to believe him. Worse still, a small percentage of greedy entrepreneurs view this supposed “apocalypse” as a wonderful way to get rich quick, and exploit the fears and irrationalities of others. But, hey, more power to ‘em, right?
Meanwhile, an ethereal Bob sits, looking down on us: shaking his Mesoamérican head at how all of his hard work has resulted in people behaving very silly-like.