By the stink-eye that little girl's mother gave me, I guessed I said something that I shouldn't have. As often the case, my mouth worked faster than my brain.
I was trying to do the right thing. It is my belief that those of us who are childless should, as penance, help out those who have reproduced. It is a small price to pay to not have to step on Leggos barefoot. That being the case, I enthusiastically agreed to buy some high-priced chocolate to support that little lady's third-grade field trip.
Upon reflection, I think the mum's dirty look stemmed from the fact that I also told the little girl that the reason I opted for chocolate and not the, also offered, magazine subscriptions was because the world might end on Dec. 21.
To be clear, I didn't say the world was definitely going to end, but rather in might and therefore I wasn't making and long-range financial commitments.
Not wanting the youngster to leave empty handed, I bought several boxes of chocolates (more than I could ever eat by the end of the 21st) to help in her fundraising efforts (though I did I ask to be billed later, just in case).
According to the Mayan calendar, Dec. 21, 2012, is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle Mesoamerican Long Count calendar and the beginning of a New World Age.
Depending on who you ask, this day could be a Friday or the end of the world.
Personally, I maintain the former, but am hedging my bets by not buying the 24-roll pack of toilet paper and paying by check whenever possible.
By telling my friend's daughter this, I wasn't trying to scare her but only explain why I opted for the chocolate rather than 12 issues of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
I walked the mother and daughter back toward their bicycles parked in my driveway when Mum turned back, grabbed me by my lapels, and said, "Are you crazy? It will take me the rest of the day to convince her that the world is not going to end and that you are just some head case."
I have to admit, she had me there. Never again will I tell an impressionable child that, in two weeks' time everyone they know and love might die in a fiery cloud of armageddon. Though I'm not sure why she's so upset; I'm the one who bought new skis this summer.
Though the fact that the winter solstice signaled the end of the Mayan calendar has been known for many years - centuries no less - no one thought much of it. It wasn't until the New Agers got a hold of the idea when the speculation that since the calendar ends, perhaps the world will too. Now that I think of it, I have a 'Monte's Bail Bonds' calendar on my desk that ends December 31, I wonder, does Monte know something that I don't?
I can't help but think perhaps for the New Agers the world ending is simply wishful thinking since it will bring to an end their vegan diet.
If I were to bet, I don't believe in the aforementioned doomsday prophecy; if I did I wouldn't still be doing push-ups and flossing. But I do think it can be therapeutic to be reminded that none of us are getting out of this world alive.
For argument sake, let's just say that 21st signals the end time, how would that change our life and perspective - other than buying less magazines and more chocolate?
For me, I think I'd be more generous and not so petty. I think I'd try to appreciate my life, lover and friends more knowing that I only had a couple of weeks do so. I would also try not to allow any anger or negativity in my life. What a waste to dilute your precious time remaining with off-putting emotions. If I only had a limited time left, I would want to fill it with good thoughts, good deeds, good love - and hopefully - good skiing.
We all know that someday we are going to die, we just don't know when. If it were sooner rather than later I think most of us would be kinder, more compassionate and appreciative. Now the trick is to extend that lifestyle and philosophy to an unknown end date.
So the good news is, it is unlikely the world is going to end this month, in fact, I hope to have another 20 or 30 years, despite that I'm going to try to live like there is no tomorrow. But if there is an ominous, scary looking fiery cloud of armageddon on the horizon on Dec. 21, you are all invited to my house for free chocolate and toilet paper.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff's book "Steep, Deep and Dyslexic" is available from local book stores or at BiffAmerica.net.