Cold War Games
Nowadays, we act like the threat of nuclear war didn’t inform everything we did. For the first twenty-nine years of my life, though, it lay at the root of all reasoning.
It was always there, looming in the background of each everyday decision.
Everyone I grew up with experienced hour-long conversations about what we would do if the bombs fell and we were left alive for a while. These weren’t survivor scenarios. They were ‘dead in one week’ storylines. That's what we talked about because that’s what we believed was realistic. Those conversations were sometimes how you discovered most of your friends would moon over their crushes. They would fantasize about sex, about defying their parents, or at least about achieving some level of romance. Other friends, though, revealed that they harbored lethal grudges.
If the bombs fell and they had a week, they would immediately go to their torturers' houses with machetes and carve them up. It was what they said, anyway.
“But they’re going to die no matter what,” I responded, because it was part of the assumption. “Everyone in our blast radius has at most a week.”
“I’m going to see them go first.”
“Okay.” I secretly doubted the ability of any of my friends to dispatch their enemies even when overwhelmingly armed. It wasn’t a matter of will. Although I was usually shocked about the murder plans, I certainly believed the levels of their frustration and hatred. Mostly, I felt suspicious of their strength and hand-eye coordination.
Likewise, I doubted my ability to get a date even when the world was ending. We all have our handicaps.