After the fiasco with the angel food cake, the Hubs had returned home that evening asking what smelled like burnt cotton candy and tried to offer encouragement. But alas, nothing he said could wipe out the disturbing thought that hit me as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the wire oven racks.
In the event of the demise of humanity as we know it, you know, with the toppling of the grid and the internet and Amazon delivery and such… I possess no real survival skills.
This thought plagued me again when we had a death in the family. A great-aunt passed away, the last of my paternal grandmother’s sibling group. I remembered how self-sufficient they all were. With the cooking, and the sewing, and the growing things. All of my grandparents and their siblings were a hardy bunch. Growing. Sewing. Cooking. Building.
I can’t cook. That’s been well established. Once the canned goods run out, we’ll be hungry, because if I tried to run a canner, the apocalypse will be the least of our worries.
I also can’t grow things. (See Water Your Unicorns—one sprig left of that once-thriving, multi-spriggy succulent, and that’s only because I’ve literally not touched it since my dear friend told me not to touch it). Spring is 43 days away as I write this. I’ll get an urge to go play in the dirt, but then…. Yeah. Everything will die unless the Hubs steps in.
I can’t sew. Buttons and simple seams, yes. But past that, we’re naked.
I’m not good with mechanical things or building stuff. I mean, I can change lightbulbs and the filter on the fridge, but if the real end of the world comes, I don’t think bulbs and fridge filters will be a thing… And as for the construction, just ask my kids what happened to their Lego creations any time I tried to “help.”
I’m certainly not made of the same stuff as my ancestors—that’s a cold, hard fact. I blame the internet. And Amazon.
I can’t run fast (also the Internet’s fault). So if the end of things happens to be a zombies-after-brains/stampeding-herds-of-rabid- cattle/Roombas-gone-wrong sort of deal, I’ll be the first to throw myself into the oncoming melee, giving those around me a fighting chance at escape.
Because I can sacrifice. One less mouth for the cooks to deal with.
If I do manage to survive the initial chaos, I’ll be the one sent down to the river with loads of nasty laundry from those who do know how to cook and clean and grow things. Or, I’ll be the one scrubbing some makeshift kitchen or cleaning up the campsite.
Because I can scrub things. A skill that comes in handy when one regularly blows stuff up in ovens.
Or—and this idea was given to me by another friend who told me I could win “Nailed It” with my disastrous cooking—I could be the record keeper.
Because, I can write stuff. String words together for fun and profit.
Why not string a few together for posterity’s sake?
In the event of the end of the world, I’ll be the old woman in the hut on the edge of the village. Folks will come from all around to tell me their stories because they know I have the largest hoard of office supplies that require no electricity. Pens and pencils and legal pads and notebooks. I’ll serve as the scribe, recording our new reality, how things used to be, and make stuff up just for the heck of it. You know, to really throw off the alien archaeologists who’ll discover our settlement centuries from now.
I’ll store the pages carefully for the generations to come in archival sleeves (yes, I have these sleeves, just in case, you know).
You and I can work out some sort of bartering system: Two pages of a memoir for one knitted sock. Five pages for the pair.
Potatoes from your garden? That’s ten pages of family history or a brand-new fantasy tale to tell your children. I’ll throw in a sci-fi short if those potatoes are already cooked.
If my hut door is falling off its hinges after the last gaggle of Roombas burst through? That’s five chapters of a thriller novel if you fix the door. I’ll finish the thing if you rethatch the roof.
So, I suppose, in the event of the end of the world (unless running is necessary for survival), I’ll scrub your pots, beat your underwear on river rocks, and write your words.
A quick glance around my office tells me the beginning of the Roomba Rampage is nigh if I don’t get up and do some scrubbing of my own.
But if this is it, and the State Board of Health unleashes the sucking robots on us all, I’ll just sit right here, write about it, and wait for you to bring me your laundry.
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