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BY WILLIAM HARVEY | King High
You think your grandma’s birthday gift of socks sucked? Imagine not even getting the chance to wear them. Two King High juniors have been counting down the days to the Mayan apocalypse with special interest, or make that special anxiety. • Tyson Burleigh will share his 17th birthday with possibly the last day of his life, Dec. 21. If the Mayans predicted correctly, and did their math to the proper decimal place, Tyson will spend approximately 11 hours partying. His friend Matthew Shaw may not be so lucky. Matthew’s 17th birthday is Dec. 22, the day after the supposed end of the world. • Recently tb-two* talked with the birthday boys about their predicament. (Disclaimer: tb-two* does not adhere to the Mayan calendar.)
Have you ever believed in doomsday scenarios?
Tyson: Well, I do believe in things like Ice Ages; (that) our race has to end eventually. We aren’t really any better than the dinosaurs. As for a specific day, I’m not too certain. The recent North Korean rocket launch actually got me worried. Really, any country could bomb the earth to smithereens, and we’d be unable to do anything about it. Although it’s probably just a load of crap.
Matthew: I actually do think that doomsday scenarios are plausible. If somebody pressed the wrong big red nuclear launch button, then it could most certainly happen. I don’t think Obama is the kind of person who’d do that right on Tyson’s birthday. But I’m not sure if the Mayan celestial doomsday event would actually happen. I mean, nothing has been scientifically proven. Unless you consider the senile ramblings of an ancient Mayan calendar artist as fact.
When did you first hear of the Mayan doomsday? What was your initial reaction?
Tyson: It was my birthday and I was on the bus in middle school. Some kids were talking about the end of the world, which also was on my birthday. I thought they meant the same day, and just kept imagining the bus exploding, everyone dying in the burning wreckage. I finally got the courage to ask them why the world hadn’t ended yet, and was just a bit relieved to find out I had five more years. I kept telling myself I had to accomplish something, something big. And of course, here I am, having done nothing.
Matthew: When I was about 10, I was wondering what famous people shared my birthday. I found out that the world was going to end in five years on the Mayan calendar. I recall freaking out that I would never get my driver’s license, which absolutely sucked. I was scared for the next couple of years, and worried I would never get my birthday or grow up. Then my 15th birthday came around, and I realized I had done the math wrong. Lucky break, I had one year and 364 days left to live.
How has your reaction changed?
Tyson: I just see it as a cruel joke now, some sarcastic coincidence that intends on ruining any fun I’ll have on my birthday. You won’t believe how annoying it is to get flooded with people saying “No way, your birthday is on the end of the world!” If the new civilization is reading this in 300 years, they’re going to think I’m an idiot for not doing anything about my predicted death.
Matthew: Really, right now, I hope it’s not going to happen. I’ve reached a state of denial; I don’t want it to happen, but I’m pretty sure it will.
Which do you think is worse then? Having the apocalypse on your birthday, or the day after?
Matthew: Obviously I have it worse. I may not hold the responsibility of opening that Pandora’s Box, but who wants to be eternally known to history as 16, the most awkward year of the awkward teens? What if a girl wanted to ask me out on my birthday, and I’ll miss that opportunity? It would never happen, but, hey, the world is ending, maybe it could.
Tyson: What worse present is there than the destruction of your family, friends and entire race? I’ll wake up in the morning, stretch my arms out and think great thoughts about having a birthday, and look out the window to a massive meteor ready to hit me, point blank. It doesn’t even compare to being eternally 16. Sixteen isn’t even that bad, you get to drive and start experiencing adulthood. Meanwhile, I’ll be stuck as a 17 year old, the pimpliest year of the most acne-ridden era of your life.
So how will you celebrate if the world ends, but somehow you survive?
Matthew: If the world comes to a close before my birthday, and I survive, I’ll just be partying in the wasteland. Sure I’d be the epitome of Forever Alone, but what else is there to do? And if I don’t survive, I can have my party in the Mayan afterlife.
Tyson: I plan on holding the world’s greatest birthday party. No one can question how awesome it will be, because they won’t be there to complain. If anyone’s looking for gift ideas, I could really use a nuclear fallout shelter, some army rations and cans of air.