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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Once upon a time, there was a boogeyman who lived in a radio...

When I was a child I wasn’t scared of the dark. I wasn’t afraid of heights, or the water or monsters under my bed. My own personal boogeyman lived in the radio. His name was Harold Camping. In the early 1990s my grandmother had knee surgery and my grandparents moved into our house. My grandfather was almost completely blind, but that didn’t stop him from donning extremely thick glasses, grabbing a magnifying glass and reading his large print King James Bible about an inch away from his face. When he wasn’t reading the Bible, he was listening to the radio. His favorite was Harold Camping.

Every night a booming voice reached out to me promising that I would never graduate middle school, never experience my first prom, get married or, mercifully, pay taxes. The world was ending September 1994 and there was nothing I could do about it. For a long time my nights would be spent pensively looking to the sky, frightened that the moon would “turn to blood.” My baby brother would try to console me, but the world would end again and again in my dreams. When my grandfather listened to Camping, I’d grab my rollerblades and try to skate around our bedroom community, waiting for Camping to finish his program. But I would always return too soon, and the man in my radio would continue his predictions of doom.

School started and life carried me obliviously through September 1994, as it would many months after that. In fact, like most children, I forgot all about the boogeyman in my radio. That was, until Bill and I were driving across the country this past winter. The monotonous desert of Texas was punctuated by signs that promised that May 21, 2011 was the end of time. The memory of my boogeyman came back to me for a moment, and I told Bill my childhood story.

Little did I know that the boogeyman in the radio and the man behind the signs were one in the same.

The past few days have been surreal. My boogeyman went viral. The New York Times, Forbes and even international outlets ran articles about him. Kim Kardashian tweeted about the supposed “end,” and far flung friends and family joked in their facebook feeds that they hoped May 21st wasn’t the apocalypse. But like a warm September month over a decade ago, May 21 came and went. In central New York the day was sunny and hot. In California (incidentally, Camping’s home state), my brother’s phone alerted him that the word was still spinning while he watched a disaster epic. We all lived to see another sunrise and the boogeyman in the radio was, once again, silenced. But for how long…


Blogger Brian said...

Better luck next year Camping!!!! :) Poor guy. How old is he now? 89?

May 23, 2011 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger nicole maskiell said...

Yes! I was so surprised that he was still alive. I never realized that he was so close in age to Granddad. He was actually quite distraught when the world didn't end on May 21.

May 23, 2011 at 9:27 PM  

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