I was one of those kids who couldn't sleep unless I had:
1. Checked every lock in the house.
2. Turned the bathroom faucet on and then off at least three times.
3. Peeked into my mom's room to make sure she was alive.
4. Opened, then closed the refrigerator door.
5. Looked into my closet and under my bed.
At the time I didn't find this behavior obsessive or abnormal. I was being smart! I was checking for warning signs just in case we were about to be overrun by robbers, then the bathroom flooded, all the food spoiled, monsters came out of my closet, my mom choked in her sleep and then I'd be left with nothing. Add to that my brief childhood love affair with religious piety and late night Bible-reading and you've got one high-strung seven-year-old.
Eventually, though, I grew out of my baby paranoia as most adults with little time for superstition do. But every once and a while -- like now -- the creeping feeling that something big is going to catch me unawares sneaks up on me, which makes sense.
Obviously the ancient Mayans we learned about in history class aren't, in fact, gunning for us. December 21, 2012 is the end of the thirteen b'ak'tun, a Mayan unit of time that consists of 144,000 days. The thirteen b'ak'tun is considered the completion of the creation cycle and therefore the end of life as we know it according to the whispers of people I've never met.
But "most groups interpret the end of the b'ak'tun as a time of change and enlightenment," according to a Fox News article I read. NASA even has a whole web page dedicated to debunking the theory that life as we know will implode on Friday, bringing at whole new meaning to TGIF. My adult brain knows this.
But my latent seven-year-old suspicious brain thinks, Fox News? Since when do we listen to them, Helena? and NASA? NASA is just a liberal conspiracy! They've got the space ship already gassed up for the president. They've traded you and all the people of earth to the aliens for cowry shells and space weed!
And until the sun rises on Friday in DC (not in any other place that's like 13-hours ahead because the news could be tampered with), I'll be as antsy as I was before bed on eerily quiet nights nearly three decades ago. Does that make me gullible, naive, silly, and maybe even a little bit nuts? Probably. But I bet you'd jump if someone yelled BOO at 11:59 tonight -- despite knowing they'll be around to punch in the arm in another two minutes.