So I have a friend who is a survivalist – or maybe he’s a Latter Day Saint, I get confused. At any rate, he’s like an apocalyptic boy scout – all about being prepared. He talked to me about storing food, weapons, ammo, medicine. Then he mentioned what would happen if an EMP exploded.
Oh, I said slightly relieved. I always considered EMP as an abbreviation for employees. I had envisioned an EMP explosion resulting in my fellow workers at Amalgamated Monster and I transformed into drippy bits on the wall.
All the machines would stop, he told me. Then he showed me his watch. “See that?” he said. “It’s a wind-up. Everybody else’s watch would stop, but mine would keep working.”
The next day I’m talking to Stanley McFarland. I’d forgotten all about the assault weapons and dehydrated banana chips.
“I have to get a wind-up watch,” I told him.
“In case an employee, I mean EMP blows up.”
“You mean Electro-Magnetic Pulse?”
“You know what an EMP explosion usually means, don’t you?”
I nodded my head, though I didn't have a clue.
“It means,” he told me, “that a nuclear bomb is going off.”
The picture of drippy bits on the wall returned. “I knew that,” I lied. “Where’s a good place to get a wind-up watch?”
That night I had a dream.
I was a wimpy version of either Arnold Schwarzenegger or (a less anti-Semitic) Mel Gibson in a post apocalyptic world. The survivors huddle around the purple and green bonfire consuming unassembled Scandinavian furniture. Each individual must present his or her merit in order to join the new caveman tribe.
“I have a shotgun and thirty rounds,” says a rotund woman. There are grunts of approval from around the fire.
“I have the Mountain Man Guide to Surviving Outdoors,” says a skinny guy with reading glasses to more approving grunts.
“We have a case of double-stuffed Oreo cookies that are hardly glowing at all!” says a little girl with her bother in tow. The grunts are deafening.
Proudly, I hold up my wrist. “I know what time it is!” I shout.
I experience a disappointing lack of grunt volume.
“And I have a pocket calendar. I’ll know the exact day and time to move back an hour in the Fall and ahead in the Spring!”
They say you always wake up before you die in a dream, so I’m not sure what the tribe decided. I was tied to a spit and lying pretty close to the fire before I woke up.
That might not be so good.
I’m still getting the watch. Digital watches just don’t tick with that reassuring, analog conviction. And if I forget to wind it – I’ll just leave it at a few seconds before midnight.
Ah the good old days - back again!