We survived Y2K, six Céline albums

Humans will make it past 2012, and Morgan Freeman will live to narrate our story . . . maybe

Take a gander at the box-office results for summer 2009 and shudder at the implications: given that Hollywood likes nothing better than recycling successful concepts, it’s just a matter of time until we are subjected to the coming together of space robots and drunken bachelors. Moviegoers, prepare yourselves for Transformers 3: The Hangover. Imagine the riveting climax:

Optimus Prime: Since time immemorial, Autobot and Decepticon have engaged in an epic struggle between good and evil—with the fate of the universe itself hanging in the balance.

Matthew McConaughey: That’s groovy, Mr. Roboto. But it does not explain how that giraffe got into our Jacuzzi!

And that’s not the only sign the future doesn’t have a lot going for it. The global economy is now forecast to continue to stink well into 2010. Despite his duties as Hogwarts’ latest “Defence Against the Dark Arts” teacher, Dick Cheney is finding time to write a memoir for 2011. And then there’s the small matter of all humanity perishing in 2012.

You heard me: Dec. 21, 2012, will mark the end of days for the human race, according to a prophecy with origins in the ancient Mayan civilization (and the modern Crazytown). Seems the Mayans created a calendar that lasts exactly 5,125 years—and, darn our luck, it just so happens the thing runs out four days before Christmas in the year 2012. Many believe this means the world will come to a fiery end on that date. Others suspect this is just a clever ruse to force us to buy another 5,125 years’ worth of pages for our Mayan Day-Timers.

What can’t be denied is that the prospect of Armageddon is a real crowd-pleaser. There are popular books laying out the “scientific” case for 2012 annihilation, and websites chronicling the signs of our inevitable reckoning. And no doomsday prophecy would be complete without being made into a major motion picture by Roland Emmerich, the director behind such dry academic fare as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. In the trailer for 2012 alone, Emmerich succeeds in destroying the White House, the Vatican and John Cusack’s reputation as a legitimate actor.

Why do some take this prophecy so seriously? Experts assert that the Mayan civiliz­ation—which spanned from southern Mexico to Honduras—was remarkably sophisticated and accomplished in matters of math, astronomy and calendars. The Mayans apparently did it all. Although, you have to ask yourself: if they were so culturally advanced, why didn’t they produce John Mayer? It makes you wonder.

Most mainstream scientists dismiss a 2012 apocalypse as hogwash, offering up persuasive evidence such as pointing at the believers while twirling their index fingers around their ears. Besides, our species has proved itself pretty resilient. In the past decade alone, we’ve survived Y2K, the Large Hadron Collider and six Céline Dion albums. But if we do experience an apocalypse, we can take some comfort from the fact that Morgan Freeman will likely still be around to narrate it.

I don’t remember reading about this in the news, but apparently Congress passed a law and now Morgan Freeman has to do the voice-over for every single thing ever made. You hear him on TV reading the copy for Visa ads. You hear him narrating some two dozen movies and the newly reopened Hall of Presidents exhibit at Walt Disney World. And if you’re anything like me, you hear him in your head when you are making a pie. He grasped the rolling pin gently but firmly, the tender pastry succumbing to its wooden will . . .

Morgan Freeman has become to voice-overs what Emmylou Harris is to musical collaboration and the cast of The Hills is to dumb. One can only imagine the impact this professional sideline has had on his domestic life.

Morgan [sitting at the dinner table] . . . and my beautiful wife graciously passed the potato salad, its thick coating of rich mayonnaise and delicate hint of dill serving as a faint reminder of a childhood lost to the mists of time—and a fleeting moment of contentment that can never be recaptured.

Morgan’s wife: Shut up.

Morgan: Her nostrils flared as she spoke, her eyes afire—not with joy, but with malice, indignation. And regret as well. So much regret. Fingers clenched, she glared at the—

Morgan’s wife: No, seriously, shut up! For once in your life just shut your mouth!

Brief pause. Morgan’s wife sighs in frustration.

Morgan: After a brief pause, she sighed in frustration—then grabbed the pepper mill, dense and metallic, its silver sheen reflecting the atmospheric glow of the candles as she raised it high above her head, summoning energy now from some dark place she did not often visit but to which she never forgot the path, and brought the blunt, heavy object down upon his head with a sickening—