As I'm sure you've heard by now, there was an earthquake yesterday in southern Illinois. Apparently the tremors could be felt as far away as Michigan. I slept through it, although some people I work with claim to have been awakened by the quake. Whether or not I believe them is not the point. Surely people in Chicago have better things to do than lie about earthquakes. Many do not.
Many of us have been waiting for over 17 years for the New Madrid Fault to live up to its billing as the second biggest fault line in the U.S. Back in early December 1990, the hallways of Park Junior High were abuzz. Helmut Kohl had just been elected Chancellor in the first all-German free elections since 1932. Macauley Culkin was delighting audiences with his thought-provoking brand of slapstick. And Whitney Houston was everyone's "baby tonight." But bigger than all of that combined was the coming earthquake -- as inevitable as the upward progression of counting from 1 to 10. Except then changing 10 to a 0. Yes, 1234567890 held all the answers. Nostradamus himself couldn't have figured it out, but everyone in Illinois apparently could. It went like this: On December 3, 1990 (123, 90) at 4:56 p.m. (456), an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 (78) on the Richter Scale would strike the New Madrid fault line. It would be a quake the likes of which the New Madrid fault line had not seen since the infamous 1812 quake that temporarily reversed the flow and permanently changed the course of the Mississippi River, or maybe the 1895 quake that was felt as far away as New York, South Carolina, and Louisiana. And the princesses in California get their panties in a bunch when a World Series games gets interrupted.
Much of the student body was gathered at a girl's basketball game in North Gym, anxiously watching the hands of the clock push towards 4:56. The tension was palpable. Students were under the bleachers, fucking like rabbits. Teachers and janitors were engaged in a Roman-esque orgy. The end was so very near. And then it happened. 4:56. Maybe the clock was a couple minutes fast. As the hour hand crossed the 5, the anxiety-ridden sound of rising zippers was deafening. Boys and girls alike sobbed, most committing suicide instantly. Awkward promises of "staying with you even if you don't get an abortion" were insincerely doled out by teachers and students alike. Screams of "Good God, what have I done?!", "I lost my virginity to Jim Gora! And Ali Roopani!," and "Even Mr. Granger's dick smells like a Twinkie!" could be heard as far away as the cafeteria. After the dust cleared, the petting returned from heavy to zero, and the broken condoms were laughed away, it became painfully clear to us what had happened: the earthquake would hit in 2090 -- a concern not for us, but for the children and grandchildren of the lives conceived on December 3, 1990.