Sunday, December 18, 2011
Another Reason to Ride Off to Mexico
Ah, the Cold War. In the late 50's and early 60's, nuclear war was considered inevitable, winnable and at the most ludicrous outskirts of wishful thinking -- survivable. We held nuclear war drills in school, learned not to look at the flash, where we were in relation to the 12-mile radius, why we shouldn't play in radioactive fall-out and why our neighbors were suddenly digging up their backyard.
Safeway sold 'home fall-out shelters' out in their parking lots -- next to the patio furniture and barbecues. I'm assuming the 'barbecue' was a pun, but I was a little young for logical argument. Which in the case of all-out nuclear war was little more than one pun piled on top of many others. Eventually, the joke would be on somebody, but nobody was quite sure whom. You see, war, as it had been defined by a generation matured in the conflagration known as World War II, clearly defined a conflict by the outcome: easily definable by lining up the winners and losers. In a nuclear conflict, it quickly became apparent that this pennant race was not winnable -- probably not even survivable. And so the great arms race grounded itself on the rocks of an acronym that only a cynic could love: MAD. Mutual Assured Destruction.
Well, we kept doing A-bomb drills at school just the same. In fact, they were identical to earthquake drills, only we didn't rehearse getting in line to evacuate the building. Didn't seem like we really had anywhere to go anyway.