Ask Mrs. Vera: Will the Fukushima nuclear plant destroy the world?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Will the Fukushima nuclear plant destroy the world?

Yours Sincerely,
Leó Szilárd,
Budapest, Hungary

Mrs. Vera, in mourning for Sol III.Dear Louis Lizard and all my troubled readers fearing the end of the world before they ever get to see Belgium up close in person and say “Walloon” a lot,

Don’t panic. Let’s all just quickly, quietly and in an orderly manner proceed to the sub-sub basement while thinking centered thoughts about frolicking, boiling dolphins fleeing the Pacific Ocean, um, er, I mean contented piles of algae growing slowly on the shores of Antarctica, as we make our way to the panic room/world headquarters in our new exciting subterranean mise-en-scene, before finally drawing a deep breath and relaxing. Really, try not to breathe, not until you actually arrive at the party.  Help everyone you meet along the way, even those who seem discombobulated with terror, to make their protein-rich way to safety with you, because as a host of one of these trend-setting New World Order Survivor Party, you will need to compose yourself before assessing which of your guests are more likely to be the delicious ones, which are the powerful ones you must be friends with to survive, and which ones are the boring ones whose  three stories told over and over again over the next 43 years may just drive you to murderous thoughts, which, I’m sorry to say, are never hidden as well as a flustered hostess would like to think.

Take time to pamper yourself by stealing and hoarding chocolate and cigarettes as your group claws its way through the earth’s crusty bedrock to safety in an abandoned sewer or hidden world you hope to find down there eventually. Make it a “Scavenger Hunt” theme party, with prizes like a sip of the remaining water for whoever finds the nest of gigantic albino alligators first, best recipe for raw rat, with bonus points for the one who discovers a source of light, finds a book of matches or pries out the largest uncut diamond held in the bowels of the earth.  Everything is going to be just fine. Splurge on your hair by adding any hands full of it, in any color, that you find along the way, or treat yourself to a new dress ripped off the back of a friend whom no one has seen join the group yet.  A party should be celebratory and indulgent, and there won’t be time for tears if you are doing it right!

Now look, it’s time for a little tough love. A good friend will tell you things you need to hear, but may not want to, when things are going poorly. It isn’t easy to tell someone their partner has been cheating on them, that they should no longer wear a style of clothing anymore that at one time they could pull off, that their kid isn’t really all that brilliant or even who took him or where they are hiding him.  I’m not going to tell you all that the Fukushima zit on your planet’s nose on galactic date night is a pretty ruby to be treasured, because it isn’t.

But is it the end of the world? Will the rest of the solar system even remember how earth looked at that awkward stage once it gets it’s heaving radioactive breasts and starts wearing glow-in-the-dark lipstick on the Grand Canyon? Most sullen teen planets have some version of a Goth phase that pretty much everyone is glad to see pass, never to be mentioned again, and Fukushima is just a sign that our little world is trying to grow up. Crowding an adolescent, like a worry-wart helicopter mom, will just make the child trapped within our burgeoning radioactive molten core explosively angrier, more petulant, and toxic to live around. If your helicopter is capable of above earth orbit flight, why not take it for a 14 million year spin around the Oort™ cloud.  When you come home, Earth may be seeing a nice boy from Harvard instead of poisoning the atmosphere with a fit about how you got her the wrong kind of Plutonium Shoes and that slut Venus is always laughing at her and putting her down and if she has to go to The Planetary Conjunction wearing them, she’d rather just die.

Heavens above, we’ve all spent millennia hurtling through space at some point in our eternal lives, usually in our youth, encased in an iridium-enriched mineral crust before crashing into an inhabitable world, there to slumber for untold billions of years until life manages to establish itself and flourish sufficiently to produce a 48-pack of pudding cups or a Home Depot parking lot that is actually big enough to contain all its shopper’s vehicles comfortably, and we all turned out perfectly well, whatever planet we ended up on — even if we don’t think about that phase of our existence much these days. Being able to recognize the life-forms around you is comforting, I’ll admit, but familiarity with fauna should not be seen as a crutch when considering abandoning a planet to its uncertain destiny. Why, if all of humanity were to perish today, in no geological time at all oodles of Squirrelosaurs or Squidbats, whatever, would be crowding the simmering swamps and methane-dense airways, re-creating our modern day Los Angeles, but in a still uranium-packed landscape, although I suspect the replacement culture will likely be a less shallow one, like the sea that will form around California in the near long-term future.

I was speaking to Godzilla just the other day (we were romantically linked in the late ’50s, quite happily, until Debbie Reynolds rebound-stole him from me after Liz mistook Eddie Fisher for Joe Dimaggio, anyway, anyway it doesn’t matter) and he told me the ocean floor off the continental shelf of Japan was now a hotter mess than Lindsey Lohan not being allowed into the Viper Room on a Friday night, and that he was seriously thinking of moving because he was over the smell of overcooked fish and cracked cesium containment systems and Tsunami-related Wasabi runoff ruining his neighborhood and causing his hibernation to end three thousand years earlier, not to mention suffering from having a boiled foot and his lovely view now being blocked by mountains of floating detritus. “Quit crabbing!” I teased him, and he said the new crab monsters were over two hundred feet bigger than the previous horde, really not worth the extra effort, and besides they left him feeling funny now after eating them.  We laughed over old times, and in the end agreed the coast off Fukushima was definitely, aside from the one at Circus Circus in Las Vegas, the most disgusting buffet either one of us has ever had the unfortunate privilege of dining at. The Fukusashimi, they say, is to die for.

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Mrs. Vera, lost.Mrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!