The world is full of them. They’re everywhere. (Kind of like zombies in a George Romero movie. Just less smelly. One hopes.)
Of course, people being what they are, sometimes they’re not there and we just think they are. (Again, kind of like zombies.) For example, we wait and wait (and wait) for a bus and then, finally, three of them show up at once. Turns out that’s a reasonably well-understood thing. On the other hand, good things coming in threes? Bad things coming in threes? That’s just something people say; it’s the result of a deep-seated desire to impose meaning on a sometimes random, always indifferent world. And what’s up with all those threes, anyway?
Turns out there’s a rule. Why does everything have to be so complicated?
What else comes in threes? Musketeers? Perhaps. Stooges?
Definitely. Sometimes. Vision-impaired mice? Sure, but count quickly — their population has been known to fluctuate… suddenly.
How about… omens? (By which I mean portents, not decades-old horror movies without zombies..) Because I was thinking about omens a couple of weeks ago.
It was homecoming weekend — a moderately relevant one. Well, ‘relevant’ might be overstating it just a bit but it was one of those years ending in five so it was an Occasion for alumni to return to their alma mater to see how fat, bald and wrinkly their surviving classmates have become. (In other words, one of those essential opportunities for group Schadenfreude.) In my case, I didn’t see a single member of my graduating class all weekend — I suppose the survivors could have been auditioning for the next Dredd movie or something. Whatever the reason, their absence struck me as, well, unusual. Perhaps it was an… omen? “But for what?” I wondered. “Surely nothing good.”
On Saturday Ms. Rose and I went to the Homecoming Football Game to watch young gentlemen attempt to hurt each other. We saw (of course) none of my classmates but lots of hers; the first ones we saw were sitting in the wrong section. And why were they sitting in the wrong section? Well, to frighten away undergraduates (“Eww! Old people! Icky!”), that goes without saying. But mostly because their alma mater sold them tickets to seats that didn’t exist. Not ‘obstructed view’ seats or ‘nosebleed’ seats or seats with poor leg room, you understand — nonexistent seats. That’s darned odd — most of the time institutions trying to extract money from people don’t jerk them around quite that much. Perhaps it’s…
As before, though, it wasn’t clear what it was foreshadowing. Nothing good — that seemed abundantly clear — but I couldn’t tell more until the next day when I had an errand up the road in The Nation’s Capital.
Now, driving to The Nation’s Capital can occasionally be interesting but usually it’s a completely uneventful hundred and sixty-nine kilometer drive in the country. But that day as we pulled onto the highway the various Omens all fell into place.
It was a Sunday morning in October. October being what it is, the sky was solid gray from horizon to horizon and just as we hit the on ramp it started to rain. At that very second, America’s sweetheart clarified the previous couple of days in barely more than a dozen words:
Sunday morning when the rain begins to fall
It’s the end of the world
So that’s what the omens were predicting. Oh well, if the world ends I won’t have to rake any more leaves.