Comments & Curiosities: Where's my bang?

Did you hear anything? I didn't.

See anything? Me neither.

As you know, the world was supposed to end at 6 p.m. May 21. And as far as I can tell, it did not.

Oakland radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted — guaranteed, actually — that May 21 was the end of the line, welcome to Armageddon, all passengers must deplane, don't worry about your carry-ons, you won't be needing them.

Just to be safe, I had everything ready: pillow, Doppkit, skivvies, "Law & Order" reruns, a couple of apples, a little Parmigiano-Reggiano. And what happens?

Nothing. Niente, nada, zip, zilch, bupkis, that's what.

I jumped in the car at 6:20 p.m., which seemed safe enough, and headed down Newport Boulevard to Coast Highway, then cruised in both directions to see if maybe some stuff had blown up or been swallowed by the Earth, but it just wasn't on KNX yet. What I saw was a bright orange sun on the horizon, a glorious evening with nothing but blue water, white clouds and happy people.

It was depressing. I don't know about you, but when someone promises me fire and brimstone, I would like to see something, anything, a little thunder, lightning, a landslide maybe.

It didn't happen, of course, and it never does. But that will make no effect whatsoever on the next out-of-control, hair-on-fire media circus when the lonely guy with 32 followers sits down with a bible and a calculator and somehow determines that the world will end on Sept. 4, 20-whatever.

By the way, this isn't the first time Camping has demonstrated his skills in prophecy and math. He first predicted that judgment day, complete with fire and brimstone — even though no one knows what brimstone means — would dawn on May 21, 1988, then again on Sept. 7, 1994.

Camping's non-prophecies have been pretty traditional; mega-earthquakes will ruin everyone's day, then believers — including of course his followers — will be raised up to heaven and everyone without a boarding pass will wander the devastated Earth until it all goes ka-boom, or bang, or something, but it's really bad.

In this latest, nonsensical prediction, those who are left behind — and let me point out that I am not going anywhere with Camping, even heaven — the final bada-boom will occur Oct. 21.

How did he arrive at that date? The same way he arrived at May 21, I assume.

Camping returned to his home May 22 and made his way through the army of reporters waiting for him, saying only, "It has been a really tough weekend."

I guess. Climbing onto the world stage and proving for a third time that you don't have a clue when the world will end or what biblical prophecies mean can be exhausting. Will any of this deter his followers, many of whom sold all their belongings and donated millions to Camping and his Family Radio network? Of course not.

With only five months left until Oct. 21, there is no time left for thinking. Depeche Mode explained it best: "Pick up the receiver and I'll make you a believer."

Of course, there is huge entertainment value to every end-of-the-world prediction, and this one was no different. There were "judgment day parties" and "rapture after-parties" everywhere, but the most innovative twist came from New Hampshire, where a man named Bart Centre has set himself up as something of a heavenly dog-sitter.

Centre started a business called Eternal Earthbound Pets to look after pets that are left behind by people who get taken up in the Rapture. The tab runs from $50 to $135, which gives Sparky loving care for as long as he lives, or until Oct. 21 anyway.

Is he serious? Dead serious.

Centre told the Wall Street Journal that he already has more than 200 clients. Centre told the Journal that his customers should be prepared to be disappointed twice, "Once because they weren't ruptured and again because I don't do refunds."

However strange you think people are, they are stranger than that.

That's it then, the Family Radio network, eternal pet care and the meaning of Oct. 21. It's all connected. I'm not sure how, but just wait until October and it'll all be make sense.

Promise. I got to go.

PETER BUFFA is a former Costa Mesa mayor. His column runs Sundays. He may be reached at ptrb4@aol.com.

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