LONG BEACH - Facing the potentially penultimate day, well, ever, Long Beach residents seemed remarkably blasé Wednesday.
By some accounts and beliefs, Dec. 21, 2012, could be the end of the world as we know it, which has popularly been referred to as the Mayan Doomsday.
Based on certain readings of the Mayan mythology, hieroglyphs, the Mesoamerican Long Clock, and a funny tea leaf or two, Friday could mark the end of times, which could arrive via a quick-fry from a great solar flare, being swallowed by a black hole or a collision with a planet called Nibiru.
According to some New Age interpretations, it could mark the dawning of a new era of positive transformation, sort of like the dawning of the Age of Aquarius back in the 1960s, and we all saw how that worked out.
NASA has formally discounted the astronomical possibilities and most Mayan and Mesoamerican scholars see nothing in the Mayan clock or culture that is foreboding.
On a sunny, brisk day in Long Beach, however, doomsday seemed faraway from most people's minds. At least there were no more lunatics running through downtown than on any other day.
Most people's plans for today included shopping, work and/or chores.
Same as always.
And even if today were the day before The Day, they said they weren't sure they'd do anything different.
A group of people outside of a downtown Wal-Mart, who didn't want their names used, discounted the idea.
"It ain't gonna happen," said one.
"How many times has the end of the world been predicted," asked another.
"I'm just going to work," two others chimed.
But what if ...
"I live every day as my last because that's what my Bible tells me," said Amelia Nieto, who is executive director of Centro Shalom, a social service provider in Long Beach.
For many of Nieto's destitute clients, just about any day can seem like the day before the final day, she said.
Martin Espino, a storyteller and performer of music of ancient Mexico, actually knows a little about the supposed prophesy and discounts it.
But if he did face his last day, what would he do?
"I've got a lot of things," said Espino, who recently performed at a Maya Festival at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. "One of the things I would do is nothing. What can you do?"
Espino has researched a number of higher Mesoamerican cultures and says none of them predicted an end of times. He says such scenarios are generally attributable to European interpretations of the culture.
According to most of the cultures he's studied, the belief is "everything occurs in cycles and repeats and repeats and repeats, it doesn't end."
Another who isn't changing his routine is Gerardo Aldana, an associate professor at UC Santa Barbara in the Chicano Studies Department, who has written and lectured extensively on Mayan and Mesoamerican history and culture.
Earlier this year, he gave a presentation in Long Beach that debunked the doomsday prophesies.
He calls the ado about the supposed prediction, "A perfect storm of misinformation."
In fact, he said, the Mayans don't even have an end-of-days prophesy.
He says prognosticators have assembled a melange of unrelated events, misunderstanding of the Mayan mythology and the Long Clock, and even some bad math, to come up with the end-of-time scenario.
"It's like looking at the clouds and seeing bunnies and rabbits," Aldana said.
Aldana's plans for the penultimate day?
"I'll be running around doing shopping," he said.
If you want to celebrate before the clock strikes at 3:11 p.m., the Hotel Maya is having an "End of the World" celebration with Mayan entertainment and chocolate, Latin-inspired food and, maybe most important, apocalyptic-themed drinks like the Mayan Mimosa.
Just in case, you know, it is Fry Day.