Awhile ago, during the anthrax scare—when government officials were receiving anthrax-laced letters—there was a rush on hardware stores for duct tape and plastic sheeting, as well as backorders for gas masks.

My husband and I didn’t buy into the panic, figuring that if chemical gas grenades were dropped into our neighborhood, plastic sheeting around our windows and doors probably wouldn’t keep it out. And we weren’t really sure we wanted to survive. We’re not industrious enough to want to help rebuild our society.

A friend of mine, however, bought everything she could get her hands on, and ordered gas masks for her family. I asked her why she wanted to survive a civilization-ending attack. She asked me why I didn’t. She didn’t have an answer, other than she didn’t want to die. My answer involved my being too lazy to start over. I didn’t state the obvious—that we’re all going to die eventually—for obvious reasons.

Then my friend mentioned that she read that bomb shelters would be built by the government to house people during bombings. I told her that, even if this were true, she and I wouldn’t be among those chosen to live in them.

“Why not?” she demanded, quite affronted.

“Because we don’t have any special talents that a new civilization would need to begin again, and we can’t have children anymore. There is going to be a need for young women who can breed, and we’re not that.”

I think the conversation ended then. What could she say? What I said made sense to both of us; we couldn’t have kids, and a post-apocalyptic world would have little need for IT managers or proofreaders.

Years later, I’m rethinking my argument. I have a very special skill that might be needed. My face predicts the weather. When it’s very humid, the right side of my head explodes in pain. This happens right before the humidity appears, too, so my head could be used to predict storms or something.

I also have Reynaud’s disease, so when it’s very cold and damp, several of my fingers lose all circulation and turn dead-white. But, by the time that happens, it’s already apparent that it’s cold and damp, so I’m waffling on the usefulness of that particular talent.

One concern I have is that there are many people who have steel plates in their heads and others who have arthritis, and they can also predict the weather with some accuracy. Dogs are also great predictors of thunder, lightning, and rain, and they’re cheaper to feed than I am. I’d better start work on my marketing campaign about why my head is a better weather-indicator than joints, steel plates, and dogs.

Then again, like I said before, I don’t want to rebuild. It makes me tired just thinking of all the work that will need to be done.

I think I’ll just stick with my original plan and ignore what’s going on around me. If that leads to the end of me, well, that will be that.

They’ll just have to find somebody else with a barometer face.

Published by Patsy Porco