It was the winter of 2009 and I was looking for a flat. The search took me to a place with fabulous views overlooking Lyall Bay. I was sold before I'd crossed the threshold, but knew I needed to charm the landlord before I could ring the movers.
OPINION: At the front door I was met by a stocky, short-haired woman in jeans and bare feet, looking very much at home. Did I have the wrong place? No, this was the flat advertised on the internet. Come in, come in. I was greeted by two more short-haired, bejeaned women. Yes, they were the tenants. No, the landlord wasn't coming. They were breaking their lease, so it was up to them to find replacement tenants.
Suddenly, all my white lies for the landlord (the job I hadn't yet been offered, my willingness to sign a 12-month lease) were worthless. I needed to charm these ladies instead.
I noticed a large map of the world in the lounge studded with drawing pins.
"Planning a trip?" I asked.
Three heads nodded vigorously. "We're going to the Netherlands to prepare for 2012."
"And what," I asked, "is happening in 2012?" I imagined a gouda convention or the Year of the Bicycle.
"2012!" one of the tenants repeated. "The Mayans predicted the end of the world ... "
"On December 21st ... "
"But actually, we have the chance to turn into this amazing physical and spiritual transformation ... "
"And a new era will begin."
"Oh," I said. Which is all you can really say to New Age crazies who you need to like you. "I hear they have good waffles over there."
Later that year Hollywood belched up the disaster movie, 2012. I thought surely there'd be a scene early on where the famously low-lying Netherlands got swamped by a massive wave (spoiling the gathered moonchildren's waffle-less picnic), but that was far too logical.
It is, of course, December 21, 2012, on Friday. But trust me: the world will not end. Gaia will not awaken. There will be no physical and spiritual transformation. Just as the world did not end on May 21 last year, despite the prognostications of Christian radio crank Harold Camping. Nor did it end in 1994 when he made the same prediction.
Televangelist Pat Robinson said judgment day would arrive before the end of 1982. It didn't. I was born a few days after he was proved conclusively wrong (though it was the end of my parents' lives as they knew them).
The world didn't end we entered the new millennium. At first I wondered if Y2K was responsible for the series of damp squibs fired off the Palmerston North City Council building, but it was just another New Year's fireworks display in Palmy.
It is easy to make light of the Nostradumbasses who think the world will end, but the young and the depressed do not have the same filters at work. So it's worth reminding the people in your life that Christmas is coming.
And if California really does slide into the ocean, remember: nothing ever happens to New Zealand in disaster movies.
- The Dominion Post