Maybe the world did end, briefly. The way that sentence ended. Would anything follow it? Of course. Haltingly, maybe. But nature abhors a vacuum, and vacuums are not especially fond of nature either. For the past year the doorbell has been ringing and it's always the same old Mayan salesman attired in a homespun breechclout, demonstrating his end-of-the-world blowout sale vacuum "with not just one u, but two." You get tired of slamming the door in his face—he's just Mayan his own business, if you will—so eventually you wave him inside, offer him a joint, put on an old jazz CD called "whether the storm?" and hear what the dude's got to say. Turns out not much. He keeps the vacuum in a bell-jar in his lap and never refers to it, much less demonstrates it. To break the ice you ask him what happened to the Mayans anyway, alluding to the mysterious disappearance of their highly advanced civilization? He shrugs, yawns something about the lousy economy, and stretches out on your sofa. The next morning, he and the vacuum are gone.
So what do we do now, having woken up on 12/22 to find the world miraculously intact? Do we kiss the old girl, the way George Bailey gratefully kissed the broken newel post in his drafty old barn of a house, having been reunited with his own existence at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life"? Or just pick up where we left off, maybe a tad disappointed to be saddled with the same old burdens that an apocalypse would have taken off our backs, fire and brimstone notwithstanding? Or was it just a formal, culture-wide version of the same old second chance we're presented with every morning when the eyes open to the same old but also new world?
Well, whichever: we're all entitled to a fresh calendar with no mistakes and one unspent ticket for a happy new year. May our civilization thrive a little longer.