My other brush with the end of civilization (and possibly yours, too) happened when I was eleven--the dawn of the year 2000. The popular theory at the time was that the double zeros in "2000" were going to confuse the computers and cause the world's entire infrastructure to collapse, at which point Jesus would decide to come back.
I mostly didn't believe anything was going to happen, and if it did, I figured my family would magically survive somehow. But on New Years Eve 1999, as we watched the ball drop in Times Square from my grandparents' living room in Alabama, I suddenly caught myself expecting all the lights to flicker out and screams to erupt in the distance, perhaps accompanied by an explosion or two. Maybe we should have bought a whole truck full of canned green beans and cat litter, I thought.
Then they showed footage of Sydney, Australia, where it had already been January 1, 2000 for quite a few hours. All their lights were on, and nothing was on fire. I pretended that I hadn't spent the past 30 seconds silently panicking.
Another apocalypse was scheduled to occur today at 6:00 PM, and most of humanity seems to have escaped this one unscathed as well. Either that, or there were so few souls worthy of being raptured, the rest of us haven't even noticed they're gone yet.
Before you let your guard down, though, don't forget the next apocalypse is scheduled for December 21, 2012, according to a Mayan prophecy and a movie I haven't seen.
This all begs the question: What is the best apocalypse strategy to adopt? Whether you stockpile food in your basement or smugly do nothing, you're really taking a gamble either way.
Let's say you take all the necessary precautions: sand bags, bomb shelter, emptying the shelves of your local Big Lots. You go to bed the night of the apocalypse feeling safe and warm in your bulletproof bunker, confident that your family will survive the impending rain of molten lava and repopulate the earth.
Then you wake up the next morning to a bright, sunny, totally normal day.
And then, what if the apocalypse does happen, but you've prepared for the wrong kind of apocalypse?
Or let's say you're like most people and do nothing to prepare for the apocalypse. How stupid are you going to feel when you wake up and discover the sun has been blacked out and all your potential sources of sustenance have been annihilated?
No matter how you look at it, the apocalypse will be awkward for someone.
But for now, I'm going to assume that if the apocalypse passed up the millennium, we're probably not going to have to worry about it for a while. Sucks for you, generation of the year 3000.