Jewish World Review August 6, 2002 / 28 Menachem-Av, 5762

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

The sky's not falling? Dang it! | I was rather disappointed to learn that an asteroid will not destroy the Earth on Feb. 1, 2019, as we had been promised.

The 1.2-mile-wide asteroid with the decidedly unpoetic name of 2002 NT7 is apparently going to whoosh right past us without so much as a howdy-do, meaning that we have to go back to worrying about the same old boring stuff we had been worrying about before, such as the stock market, Iraq and whether Billy Bob Thornton will ever find true love.

To me, Feb. 1, 2019, seemed like a good time for the Earth to be blown to smithereens by a chunk of space rock. I will be 66 years old then and no doubt in far worse shape than I am today. If I am still playing golf, my playing partners will have to tee the ball up for me, help me in and out of the cart and prod me awake when I doze off lining up a putt. (They actually have to do some of these things for me already, but it will only get worse.)

I will have written nearly 5,000 columns and will still be receiving angry letters from readers when I say unflattering things about cats. I will still be seated at my same desk next to the newsroom refrigerator, breathing (literally) the same fumes I breathe today. My editor, a woman 40 years younger than me, will ask me, just like her 20 predecessors did every February before her, to come up with a "fresh angle" for a Valentine's Day story. Worst of all, if the stock market keeps going like it's been going, I will still have to work another 110 years before I have enough money in my 401(k) to retire on.

I wouldn't be dwelling on these dreary prospects if I knew that an asteroid was going to destroy Earth in less time than it will take me to pay off my Visa bill. Day-to-day concerns like aching joints, leaky roofs and poor cable service seem unimportant when nuclear winter is right around the corner.

Of course, there's always the possibility that there's another asteroid whipping around outer space with our name written on it. The trouble is, we might not believe it if the Big One actually gets us in its crosshairs. Scientists have warned us several times in the past when an asteroid has ventured into our cosmic neighborhood. One passed closer to us than the moon. I don't remember the president even calling a press conference.

This is just wrong. No one should be going blithely about his or her business when an asteroid comes crashing down. If there's anything that warrants going crazy with fear, it's a chunk of iron the size of a small city bearing down on one's head at 100,000 mph.

So, just to be on the safe side, I am going to keep myself in a state of hysterical panic until our world leaders come up with a way to protect us from falling space rock. (I'm thinking along the lines of a giant, orbiting catcher's mitt.)

I'm thinking that this attitude could prove useful in many ways. For example, if my wife tells me to mow the lawn, I would tell her that I am unable to perform that chore because I am paralyzed with asteroid dread. My response would be pretty much the same when she tells me to wash the cars, fix the toilet or help our son with his homework. (Indeed, the only thing a person is capable of doing when in the vise-like grip of asteroid dread is watch television, preferably from a prone position on the couch.)

In earlier, safer times, I would have tried to come up with a snappy ending for this column, but asteroid dread has sapped all of my creativity. So this is the best I can do.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


08/02/02: Some fond memories of worst TV shows
07/30/02: Pay my credit-card bill, please?
07/25/02: Something to celebrate
07/22/02: Baseball needs to ban the fans
07/16/02: Hasbro should consider new inaction figure
07/11/02: Decline in trash-talking is harming our mental health? Well, #@%&!
07/08/02 Americans retain right to fork tongues
07/01/02 These laws were made to be broken
06/18/02 Watching enough commercials?
06/03/02 Throwing your vote to the dogs
05/08/02 Hey, Mom, could you spare a dime?: Parents' obligations unending

© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune