Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By J.P. Devine
There it is, right there on page A6 of Monday’s paper.
It’s official, the Cold War is back. Bernie Jones, a member of a survivalist group in the little town of Menifee, Calif., 80 miles from Los Angeles, is building a lavish underground survival bunker. Full disclosure: It’s not my old survivalist group, they are all in nursing homes, where it’s up to the home to provide cover.
With President Barack Obama threatening to erase Syria, and Russia, back in Soviet Union furs, getting all vodka-ed up with Putin getting ready to pound his desk with his shoe, it’s back. The fear and loathing diving-under-the-desk-shelter-digging paranoia. Take the shovel ... leave the desk.
Of course, I’m being bombarded (no pun intended) with thousands of letters from my readers, begging for advice on what to do when the bombs start falling. I’ve always been a lucky guy. I survived several earthquakes and riots in Los Angeles and five series cancellations. I narrowly missed an evening with Lana Turner, but it’s a long true story.
Isn’t it funny how things work out? When I bought this house in Waterville 29 years ago, I was taken on a tour of the basement. Much to my astonishment, there it was, down a long gray hall past the oil tank. A deep, narrow cement-walled root cellar, buried under 6 inches of concrete under the garage, true story. The real estate agent whispered that he thought the builder had really intended it to be a bomb shelter, as it was created back in the ’50s, when kids were all diving under plywood desks. Of course he did. It was Rod Serling’s world then.
Through the years, I have avoided going there. But now I’m taking another look at it. Paranoia is bred into the Irish, with layers of fatalism, alcoholism and good looks.
We know in our black hearts that one day this new royal baby Prince George will grow up and turn into a raging Oliver Cromwell, kill the pope and imprison all the poets. Seamus Heaney got out just in time. So I’ve got a bomb shelter. I think I should start subscribing to some of those survivalist magazines, if for no other reason than they might buy this article. Already, down there, there are long rows of empty shelves built into the walls, where I can start storing my supplies. I’m thinking hundreds of cans of baked beans, canned SpaghettiOs, soups of all kinds, crates of ramen noodles, boxes of imported pasta and jars of sauces.
I’m waiting for the good wine sales after Christmas, and I’ll buy it by the case and load it in. Clothes. What do I need? I’ll leave all my Polo linens upstairs. After the big blast or meteor strike, the scientists promise an eternal winter. Who, then, needs linen jackets and seersucker slacks? I have tons of sweat pants and hoodies, because after 20 years of trying, this belly isn’t going away. I also have sweaters galore to hold me over.
The sad part is the cell and Internet signal. I can get it in other parts of the basement, but it’s very weak in the shelter cave. That will be the hardest thing. I’ve become such a media slave that I don’t know how I will suffer weeks, possibly years, without Facebook updates and no Snapchats.
I will miss Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Larry O’Donnell, but they will probably be wiped out early on or at the least wind up in a gulag.
“The Killing” television show has not been picked up for next year, so that softens the blow. I don’t know what to do about she, who has never been down here at all, and says she’s not going down now. We’ll see how long that lasts when her books catch fire and her beloved Ben & Jerry’s yogurts melt.
If you need any advice on stock piling, call me ... maybe.
J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.