If you haven't done it already, get your bets down now, by midnight, in fact, on the likelihood of the end of the world as we know it arriving tomorrow. Because this Tuesday, June 6, the 157th day of the year, the world celebrates that calendrical serendipity that comes along once every one hundred years:
Tuesday is June 6, 2006. In the modern shorthand, that's 6/6/06. You know 'em, you love 'em, those Rorschach numbers with evil attached -- or not, depending on your belief system and your fear of the unknown. You might wonder where this preoccupation came from. You can really blame the Bible for it -- in particular that old favorite, the Book of Revelation.
Specifically Revelation 13:18: “This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
For some it's not an occasion for fear. “Many people avoid the number; they’re afraid of it almost and there’s absolutely no reason to be afraid of it,” said the Rev. Felix Just, a professor of theology at the University of San Francisco. “It is not a prediction of future events. It is not supposed to be taken as a timetable for when the world is going to end,” Just told the Associated Press.
For others, of course, it's all about marketing. Consider some of the events set to happen tomorrow: A remake of the 70s horror classic "The Omen," starring Julia Stiles, Liev Schrieber and Pete Postlethwaite, opens across America, the object of an ad campaign that's been among us for weeks now ("Heed the Omen 6 + 6 + 6").
There's the release of the new "Left Behind" book by the Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of a wildly successful series of books with an apocalyptic theme. In case you don't come to the point on your own, LaHaye's "Left Behind" Web site promotes the new book, “The Rapture.” with a tag line he didn't need an ad agency to come up with: “06.06.06 Will You Be Ready?”
Rock and roll metallurgists Slayer are resurfacing with their new Unholy Alliance tour starting June 6. Deicide, a rock band out of Florida, releases a new album, "The Stench of Redemption," on June 6.
And lending weight to the idea that June 6 is indeed the devil's workshop, tomorrow conservative apologist, writer and right-wing attack mutt Ann Coulter releases "Godless," her new excoriation of what she calls "the church of liberalism," and justifies the presence of her vacuous grinning face on TV talk shows for another year or two.
Clearly, there are demons among us -- right along with fools, opportunists and movie publicists. Somewhere along the way of our being fascinated with 06/06/06, we overlooked another June 6, a date as rare as the one we dread/dream of tomorrow, a date that confirms the existence of angels.
The shorthand is 6/6/44, but it always sounds better when you say it all: June 6, 1944.
In a world without Web sites, metal bands, mushwit conservative mouthpieces and a lot less movie promotion than today, angels from many nations stormed a beach in a distant country and fought an army managed by devils, at horrific cost.
And we are now and forever the beneficiaries of that titanic struggle.
That's why we needn't fear the triple-six experience: Our world has already seen the manifestation of hell on earth. After D-Day, folks ... how bad can Ann Coulter possibly be?