“Fwd: Thought you might enjoy this.”
Has anyone ever enjoyed a forwarded email like this from their parents? I doubt it. Because when they say that they “thought you might enjoy this,” what they really mean is, “I enjoyed this, let’s discuss this thing I enjoyed.” Which, you know, you probably did not enjoy, because it’s usually an article with a headline like “You’ll NEVER go anywhere alone EVER AGAIN after you hear this woman’s story!” Or “Watch this HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT disprove five hundred years of so-called ‘science’ with A BIBLE VERSE and A PURPLE CRYSTAL he found at the DOG PARK.”
But once in a while, these forwarded items are interesting, though not for the intended reasons. I recently received a forwarded email from my father about this luxury survival bunker in upstate New York that’s built into a former nuclear missile silo. On the ground level, it’s a regular home, but underground are two levels of reinforced concrete living space, which leads to a huge nine-level missile shaft that goes two hundred feet underground and can withstand a nuclear explosion. The subject line read, “Thought you might be interested in this.” And I was, as was he. But we were interested in it for completely different reasons. My dad is sort of an eccentric; he’s a prepper, though he’s too lazy to do any actual prepping, and he wants to be a survivalist, though when my mom goes on vacation, he eats cereal for every meal because he can’t cook. He’s interested in this house because he wants to buy it, and live there, so that when the imminent collapse of civilization comes to pass, he’ll have a chance at surviving. I’m interested in it because it represents the weird intersection of luxury real estate development with apocalyptic prepper paranoia. With this tension in mind, I thought it might be interesting to discuss this house with him. Our instant-messaging exchange, lightly edited, is below.
Dad: The windows are nice. But if you were anywhere near them during a nuclear explosion, you’d be sliced to ribbons by pieces of glass split seconds before you were vaporized by the blast wave.
Me: Nuclear explosion?! Why and how would that ever happen???
Dad: Terrorists, crazies, etc.
Me: Yeah but aren’t nuclear bombs hard to get your hands on?
Dad: There are hundreds of suitcase nukes missing from the former Soviet Union. I could probably get my hands on one in an hour. (Hello, NSA.)
Me: What! What do these bombs look like?
Dad: Just like regular suitcases I think.
Me: I was on the Metro today and there was a woman sitting next to me, and she had one of those rolling suitcases. It could’ve been a nuclear bomb.
Dad: This Is What I’m Saying!!!
Me: Okay, let’s get back to this house. The ground level’s out. So you’d be spending most of your time in the underground levels. The main apartment, which is 2000 square feet, used to be the Launch Control Center, but now it’s living quarters. Looks like it has a pretty nice-sized kitchen. Marble counters, plenty of cabinet space. Lot of storage space for cereal.
Dad: They wouldn’t have to get through it. They could just use poison gas. It doesn’t look like that door is airtight.
Me: Gas!? Are these the same people who detonated the nuke?
Dad: Maybe. Could be different people. There will probably be different competing factions, after the apocalypse. Like in that movie “Mad Max.”
Me: Oh that was a good movie! Did you like it?
Dad: No, it wasn’t very realistic.
Me: Oh. So why are they gassing us?
Dad: They want our food.
Me: Wouldn’t that ruin the food though?
Dad: Some of it, yeah. Not the canned goods.
Me: The cereal would probably be ruined though.
Dad: Yeah, the cereal would be iffy even after the gas circulated out.
Me: Maybe that’s how you convince them to hold off on the gas. “You pipe that cyanide gas in here and you’ll be ruining 150 lbs of perfectly good raisin bran!”
Dad: You Can’t Reason With These People.
Me: Down farther, it looks like the missile silo itself is 12,000 square feet of space, climate-controlled, and it all hangs from a spring suspension system so it can withstand the shockwave of a nuclear explosion. What could we use that space for?
Dad: You could put a pool table down there.
Me: Yes you could. Don’t you worry it would be depressing, living underground all the time? What about sunlight?
Dad: There won’t be any sunlight above ground either. Nuclear winter.
Me: Ohhhhh. Okay, well, when do you think this apocalypse is going to happen? In the next month? If it’s going to be in the next month, I’m not paying my rent on the first.
Dad: Don’t do that, you’ll ruin your credit!!!