I only remember bits and pieces, but I remember it.
I was 13. It was freshman year in world history class and we were watching a video. I don’t remember the lesson, but we must have been studying the Mayans, Aztecs and Incans, the three South American cultures school classes always group together. I remember gears on the screen, as announcer with doom in his voice discussing the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. I’m certain he didn’t use that term. He did have an ominous warning, though: “But this calendar had an end date: December 21, 2012.” The gears on the screen stopped. Maybe, just maybe, there was a crack of thunder outside. I may have made that part up.
Somehow I made it many blissful years without knowing of the belief the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, but the issue gripped me in that classroom. I did a little guesswork in my head. I’d almost be 30! I’m sure I wondered what the world would be like so far in the future. And where would I be? I don’t know what I predicted, but I’m sure it was something close to reality: Writing a listicle tangentially related to the end of the world in the bathroom of my apartment. (Not in those words, though; I didn’t learn of tangents until geometry, sophomore year.)
And so. We are almost here! And it turns out that I had nothing to ponder on at all: There is no end of the world. The 2012 prophecy was based on the Michael Coe‘s 1966 work The Maya, where he wrote the Long Count calendar suggests the end of the world in December 2012. Further scholarship, per Wikipedia, said there is no indication the Maya believed the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012. The U.S. government agrees. So does the Vatican astronomer.
That’s good, because if you actually did these 10 things before the end of the world instead of spending time with your loved ones, you would have a very sad final two days. But since there’s no apocalypse coming, you have more time to do these! Consider this a drill.
1. Eat a tomato pie at Tony’s Place. People say Philadelphia doesn’t have any good pizza. [Editor's note: Except for these 50 places.] They’re wrong. Philly has plenty of good pizza, you just need to know where to look. And no type of Philadelphia pizza is better than the beloved tomato pie, the upside-down, sauce-on-top, so-good-I-need-to-stop-writing-this-and-eat nectar of the gods from my childhood in Northeast Philadelphia. My favorite place is Tony’s in Mayfair, which has been serving pizza at the same location on Frankford Ave. since 1951. If it were the actual end of the world, this is where you take your crush you finally got the courage to ask out. Duh.
2. Walk down Delancey, 26th to 17th Streets. The nicest, most fascinating stretch of Center City. Gorgeous houses, ugly houses, lots of trees… I mean, that’s it, but who doesn’t love a nice walk? This also includes the nicest block in the city, 1800 Delancey Place, a block so rich there is a mailbox in the center of the block. In the center! I always wondered how the rich lived, and when I went to Delancey I found out it was “a more convenient drop box for the U.S. mail.” Health insurance, too, probably.
3. Read the Financial Times‘ recent piece on Philadelphia. In it, you’ll learn of Philadelphia’s greatest neighborhoods, Old Town and the University District, as well as the suburb of Winwood (like Steve!) and Delaney Street. I am certain this article will keep me entertained and until Friday.
4. Hang out at Belmont Plateau. It’s going to be in the 50s the next two days! Plus, since it’s not summertime, it won’t be “a place called the Plateau is where everybody goes,” so you can have some peace and quiet to yourself. Belmont is a great spot to run with lots of hills, too, in case you’d like to be in good shape to face the end times.
5. Photobomb some tourist’s photo at LOVE Park. Just because.
6. People-watch and dog-watch in Clark Park. I don’t have too much nice to say about West Philly, though a lot of that is because I’m an East of the Schuylkill snob. But! There is nothing I like more in West Philadelphia than Clark Park. (Okay, and there are a few cats who live out there I’m pretty partial to.) Our RA took us there the day after we moved in freshman year of college, and I used it the next four years weekly. The champion people-watching places in Philadelphia are Rittenhouse Square and Phillies games, but close behind is Clark Park. It’s surprisingly big—9.1 acres, not that I know what that means—but the best spot is to sit on the top of the “bowl” area and watch people and dogs play. Too cute!
7. Drink a Manhattan from Southwark. This is a real entry, too, if you’ve never had it. The best Manhattan I’ve ever had, and I drink a lot of Manhattans. I don’t really know how to write about food, is it supposed to be all in rhetorical question form like that New York Times Guy Fieri review? How’s this: What if the world actually ends Friday and you’ve never had the greatest Manhattan ever? Alternate for teetotalers: Victory makes a mean root beer.
8. See the holiday show in the Wanamaker Building. It’s incredibly dated, it’s cramped, it’s crowded, and it doesn’t have John Facenda’s narration anymore. (It is impossible Facenda never said “Macy’s” in his career, right? They could have just inserted it.) But no matter. This is one of Philadelphia’s best traditions, a dumb corporate Christmas celebration designed to attract business that nonetheless feels like a heartfelt celebration of America’s Christmas stories.
9. Sit at the Schuylkill River Park Dog Run and watch the doggies. I don’t need to give an explanation for this one, do I?
10. Head to several places of worship and hedge your bets. I don’t necessarily think Pascal’s wager makes much sense, but it certainly does if the end of the world is in a day. So hit up a couple churches, synagogues, mosques, whatever. Philadelphia has so many places of worship you’re bound to hit the right one and be saved in case of armageddon.