Lately, I’ve been thinking about the apocalypse and I have this horrible fear that, when it comes, I might survive. I am hoping that, when civilization as we know it comes crashing down, the post-apocalyptic society that survives needs someone to do, like, needlepoint and embroidery, because otherwise, I’m done for.
Not that I know how to embroider. I don’t. And I’m not a particularly fast learner. It just seems needlework would be easier to learn than Krav Maga or Hapkido or those other badass martial arts that everyone in the surviving communities seems to know.
Trust me. I am somewhat of an expert on this. I have seen the End of Days time and again, while streaming hours and hours of Netflix. There, the apocalypse is brought on pretty much any way you might imagine. There, humanity is always on the precipice. Another 36 post-doomsday scenarios were added just in the past four days.
No matter what the cause is, it always starts with us. It’s pollution or overuse of fuels or A.I. gone out of control. Or some unforseen agent of destruction, like overly concentrated laundry detergent.
“Our clothes were white enough, damn you!” the hero of that last one shouts to the heavens, alone on a barren, but very sudsy, wasteland.
In the unchecked laundry suds scenario, the has come when a Bayliner speedboat on Long Island Sound, piloted by a guy who’s been drinking, plows into a yacht occupied by a family beginning a sail to Florida. Among the items destroyed by the collision is a two-inch-long vial of the latest super-concentrated detergent that the family has taken on the trip, carefully following the instructions to use no more than a drop that can fit on the end of a toothpick -- and that for heavily soiled loads.
With the vial smashed, the entire 1.2 ounces of detergent is loosed into the water. Within days, the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Baltimore is smothered by a glacier of fluffy white suds that show no signs of stopping. Millions drown or choke to death on soap bubbles. Millions more flee, although many linger behind, bewitched by the meadowy-fresh scent.
But that’s besides the point. The cause of the cataclysmic event isn’t so important. Whichever way the world as we know it ends, we’re going to need skills afterward. I’m sure my abilities in public relations won’t carry over. The regional warlords who will inevitably rise will not need press releases. Marketing directors are likely to be among those survivors sectioned into the categories of “food” and “paving materials.”
Social media pros will be in low demand when all the electricity comes from whipping the captives you’ve snatched from a nearby fiefdom as they pedal reconstituted exercise bicycles that have been hooked up to a sparking, sputtering power grid.
(There are exceptions. Back on Netflix, one clan managed to power what looked like a classic English estate in an ingenious way. Inspired by the home science experiment where a clock is run by sticking two prongs into a potato, the group managed to grow a spud the size of Westminster Abbey. Into its white flesh, they stabbed enough metal strips to live the high life. They thrived until the day a rival tribe rolled in with an enormous deep fryer -- which they heated up, ironically, by plugging it in to the potato.)
But no matter. When the time comes, I’m just hoping that combat skills are not absolutely essential. When the warlords rise to power, not everyone can be a warrior, right? Someone has to monogram their napkins and vestments. That could be me.
I could serve my friend Karen. She’s a mid-level manager. Second assistant to the third vice-something-or-other in charge of stuff people don’t need but spend lots on. She’d make a great regional monarch. She’d take me in, too.
“Sure,” she told me when I asked her about it. “You can be Secretary of Finery.”
“Secretary of Finery,” I said, testing the sound of the title. “I’ve been called worse.”