Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 13, 2016
Discuss this story at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner
Going back to high school, you could best have described me as "Clueless in Missoula". The main things important to me at the time were my popularity, my looks, what kind of car I was driving and which boys to date and which ones to make fun of, so as to increase my popularity with the other girls concerned with the same things I was.
About the only things that set me apart from the rest of the clueless was that I was athletic, as a gymnast until I was 15 and then as a rock climber. Lynn Hill was my hero. I never was anywhere as good as she was, but as a local climber I was pretty good. Besides the athletics, the other difference was I got better grades than the average clueless bimbo. As far as what was ongoing in the world at the time with respect to Geopolitics, Economics, Energy and Climate change though, I knew only what my dad told me was the TRUTH about those topics. All lies I found out later, but dad was a World Class liar and very convincing.
My father was a very dominating figure in my life, right up into college when I finally discovered what an asshole he really was. Dad was a Petroleum Engineer and one of the top Geochemists in the world, hobknobbing with Presidents, Dictators and Oil Sheiks and the rest of the movers & shakers in the energy industry. He was a major force behind the "fracking revolution", which for a while brought up gobs of "tight oil" from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, but as it turns out was all financed by funny money in crooked deals he sold to the low hanging fruit on Wall Street. He didn't just con me, he conned EVERYBODY!
The first turning point in my life came when my parents got divorced in my sophomore year in high school. My mom took me and my brother and moved back to her home town of Missoula from Houston, which devastated me because all my friends were in Houston. Mom didn't explain to me the reasons she divorced dad at the time, saying only, "I'll explain it when you're older". Which made my 14 year old brain figure it was about SEX, and dad was cheating on her. Since he traveled so much to Energy Industry conferences, that would have been easy to do. As it turns out, that wasn't the main reason, although it probably was true also.
So I started having some negative feelings about my dad at this time, but he was busy "buying" my love. He flew my kid brother Kyle and me down to Houston on the company jet about every other weekend when he was in town for the court awarded visitation rights. He took us out to the best restaurants in Houston and shopping expeditions to the Mall where we shopped till we dropped. In the summers, he took us on trips to Europe in the Corporate Jet, a Gulfstream V, or on National Park adventures in the big ass Diesel Pusher Class 1 Motor Home which was bigger than a Rock Star Tour Bus and even had its own Hot Tub! What's not to like with that life, right? So, even if mom was unable to forgive him for the indiscretions that I had conjured up in my head, I was able to. At least I was then.
When I got my Drivers License at 16, at the HUGE Sweet 16 Party he threw for me in an exclusive Houston Marina on the Cruise Ship size Yacht of a Saudi Sheik he was friends with, he handed me the keys to a brand spanking new Tesla Model X SUV and a custom ZEV Electric Scooter capable of highway speeds and 120 mile range that accelerated faster than a Harley! He got Bon Jovi to play the party also and flew in Lynn Hill so I could meet her. I even got to go climbing with her in the Grand Canyon after the party. What a dad!
Zipping around Missoula in the Tesla and on the ZEV during my senior year, my popularity SOARED and all the boys were chasing me. I dated a few of them, all assholes in one way or the other, and all constantly trying to get in my panties. It wasn't that I didn't want to have sex or had any big hang up about maintaining my virginity, but they were such jerks I couldn't bear the thought of any of them being "the first". I only let a couple of the jerks get to Second Base. lol.
There were other boys floating around who I didn't date, because they weren't considered cool enough. One of them I found really interesting though was a boy named Kenny, who was always launching into tirades at the lunch table about how industrial civilization was going to collapse, nobody would have electric lights or gas for their cars anymore and the climate was going to change making most of the world uninhabitable. He got labelled "Kenny the Kollapsnik". Everybody made fun of him because of this, along with the fact he had to mow lawns to afford gas for his really old and rusty Ford van he had at that time. Kenny's wheels were very uncool, and besides everyone criticized him for being a hypocrite since he drove this van around and used fossil fuels to power his Zero Turn lawnmower, Chainsaw, Weed Eater and Leaf Blower. Kenny was tough though, and he didn't let any critiques bother him at all, and he seemed not to care at all that he wasn't very popular. That was strange to me.
Even though I wouldn't date him if you paid me at the time, unlike most of the rest of the kids I was hanging out with, I didn't make fun of him. At least not too much anyhow. I listened to some of his rants, and some of it actually started to make sense to me. I brought these things up with my dad when visiting with him, but he patiently explained to me why this was all a crock of shit, and in reality fracking of Natural Gas would tide us over until we could have a full Renewable Energy future and all EVs for Happy Motoring like my Tesla and ZEV. He was very convincing on this stuff, at least until Cassandra came a-calling on the Houston Ship channel in 2017, and basically destroyed everything in it's path, including my Dormitory at the University of Houston.
Dad had convinced me to come to Houston and follow in his footsteps as a Petroleum Engineer, so in my Freshman Year at UoT Houston, I was studying basic sciences and math, in the typical engineering track. When Houston looked like it would be Ground Zero for the hit from Cassandra, my dad advised me to GTFO of Dodge until it passed through, and rented me a Ryder to take all the toys he had bought me and pull the Tesla with me on a trailer out of town. He still didn't admit this had anything to do with Climate Change, but he wasn't stupid either and could read a Weather Map on the NOAA Hurricane watch page as well as the next scientist out there. He ALSO exited stage left from his Houston McMansion and jumped the company jet out of town to his main vacation home in Aspen, and both of us avoided getting sucker punched too bad by Cassandra, although dad's McMansion did lose the roof and got flooded.
I drove the Ryder and all my stuff back up to Missoula to wait out the storm, with the intention at the time of driving back to Houston when it all got cleaned up, which I figured might take a couple of weeks. It turned out to be a good deal longer than that, in fact the entirety of Houston and South Texas didn't get back to anything approaching "normal" for close to a month, and the UoT cancelled the Spring Semester that year. It didn't look like things were going to get going fully normal for a while, so I enrolled for the spring semester at the University of Montana in Missoula. I was still a freshman though and didn't have to declare any major, but they didn't offer anything in Petroleum Geology. So I just took more basic science courses, but got intrigued by Ecology courses, which they had many of. I signed up for one of those.
My professor Dr. Kepler in the ecology course was VERY COOL, and for an old guy around 40 pretty sexy too. I lost my virginity to Dr. Kepler, but he was fucking all the coeds in the class and it wasn't much of a relationship. Still, in a more academic way he was saying much the same stuff as Kenny the Kollapsnik did at the lunch table in High School. Cassandra got me thinking that climate change was for real, and that fossil fuel burning was probably part of the problem. Dr. Kepler assigned us a huge number of peer reviewed studies which seemed to confirm this fact, despite what my dad the Geochemist had told me.
Another bigger effect for me from Cassandra was that in the aftermath my dad's company went bankrupt, and then right after that he was arrested for securities fraud. It was then my mom told me the real reason for the divorce, she was aware of what he was doing and couldn't stand to be in the same room with him anymore, much less sleep in the same bed. Dad was sentenced to 20 years in the Federal Penitentiary for violation of at least a dozen SEC regulations and EPA violations, and then a few years later after the crash of the monetary system a bunch of revolutionaries overran the prison and he was sentenced to death by them for crimes against humanity. He went under the Guillotine in July of 2023.
It was just after dad was arrested that I was out with some friends at the local underage non-alcoholic hangout called Max's Montana Munchies where I ran into Kenny again. Even though Max didn't serve any alcohol many of the patrons brought their own in water bottles and spiked up the drinks. Besides that there was plenty of ganga smoking out back and numerous other drugs and prescription meds being passed around. I personally did not partake of any of that though, which was starting to make me uncool in the eyes of my friends.
Kenny walked in not surprisingly by himself and sat down at a table in the corner. He had changed a lot since high school, a lot more rugged and muscular although he still had a boyish face. Something came over me and I got up from the table with my clueless crowd of friends and walked over to Kenny's table to say hi.
"Hi Kenny. Remember me from High School? I'm Kirsten Klark."
Kenny turned his eyes up from the menu with a look of genuine surprise. I almost laughed it was so funny, but I managed to keep it to myself. Then the look turned to one of suspicion. He probably thought I came over to his table as some sort of practical joke.
"Uh, sure. Everybody knew you in HS. You were Polly Popularity." he replied sarcastically.
I laughed, since although this was true, nobody had ever called me Polly Popularity before. At least not to my face anyhow.
"Yea I know. I was very image conscious back then. Not so much anymore. Do you mind if I sit down?"
Kenny's expression relaxed some and he turned up his palm and gestured to the chair facing him. He was very self assured, and even if this was a practical joke he probably was curious as to how it would play out. He didn't have any problem with being the butt of jokes, since he had been all through high school and was accustomed to it.
"You were pretty well known too, you know. "Kenny the Kollapsnik", I said with a wry grin.
"Yea, I was pretty passionate and outspoken about collapse issues in those days." he said. "Nowadays I'm not so loud about it. Wouldn't be good for my business."
"Really? You're in business? You're not going to college?" I said. I was genuinely surprised about that, because even though Kenny was the butt of jokes, he was in all the same Honors classes and AP classes I was. It also was rumored he got a perfect score on the SAT, although all he ever said when asked was "I did pretty good". At least that was what he said to me on one of the few occassions I spoke to him in High School, the week after everyone got their results and were comparing them.
"Nah. College is a waste of time and money. It's just another big racket and Ponzi Scheme." he replied.
I laughed. "Well, it's pretty clear you're still a Kollapsnik, even if you don't advertize it so loudly anymore. So what sort of business are you in?" I inquired.
"I have a landscaping business." he said nonchalantly.
"So how's it going?" I asked. I figured he was still just cutting lawns and I didn't want to insult him.
"It's doing pretty good.", he replied. That sounded suspiciously to me like what he said when asked about his SAT scores, so I decided to confront him on this since I had always remained curious about it.
"Pretty good? Like how much money does it make? And while I'm asking here, what did you REALLY score on your SATs?"
Kenny laughed at this.
"You're an inquisitive one, aren't you? Don't you know it's not polite to ask somebody how much money they make? Far as my SATs go, that's between me and the ETS. Well, probably the NSA knows them also, but otherwise nobody else since I never sent off any college apps."
I got a good laugh out of that as well. "Still Mr. Secrecy and Conspiracy too! So you still are convinced Industrial Civilization is going to collapse and we're all going to be living like Amish farmers?"
"mmm, If we end up like Amish farmers, we will be doing very good." he replied.
"So what about Near Term Human Extinction?" I asked. This topic had been coming up quite often Dr. Kepler's Ecology class and I was genuinely curious if Kenny had heard the term at all. I just tossed out the question to see what his reaction to it would be. It was amazing, an expression I had never seen before on anyone, his eyes squinted and went on fire.
"You have changed Kirsten.", Kenny said. "NTHE is a very complex problem, and a lot of nonsense is being pitched around about this. You have to look at many variables here, and the outcomes aren't certain."
Kenny went on in great detail about many of the things we had discussed in class, but with a much different perspective. He seemed to know as much if not more about the topic than Dr. Kepler did. We batted the topic back and forth for a couple of hours, along with many other collapse topics that I hadn't even considered at that time. Kenny started to connect the dots for me, and I wanted to know more still. Even after 2 hours, it seemed like Kenny could go on forever about collapse topics.
"How did you learn about all this stuff Kenny? You aren't in college and a lot of it I haven't even heard about in school either!" I said.
Kenny smiled. "Well, that's a long story, but if you're interested you could start with a blog called the Doomstead Diner. There's a fellow there RE who has been writing about this stuff for a decade or so. That's where I started when I was still in Junior High. The Diner linked me to a lot of other sites with people who write on these topics, Steve Ludlum, Albert Bates, Ugo Bardi and many others. It's a lot of material though, you won't read through it in a day. Not stuff you find in a college curriculum, that's for sure." he laughed.
I wanted to know more RIGHT NOW though, but Max's had emptied out and it was near closing time. We were the last two people left and the waitstaff was looking antsy for us to leave the table so they could bus it. I decided to get brazen and make Kenny an Offer He Could Not Refuse.
"Maybe we can talk more about it tonight Kenny? You can come back with me to my dorm room and we can talk more there. See how college girls live!" I offered.
Kenny looked visibly nervous when I suggested this.
"uhhh, no I'm going camping this weekend and I have to drive a ways and get up early tomorrow." he said with a shaky voice.
I couldn't believe it! He was turning me down to go camping! There wasn't a guy at the table of friends I had come in with who would not have given his right arm or left nut for that opportunity! That made me REALLY determined!
"You like to go camping? Me too! I like to rock climb too. Maybe we can go camping together?" I asked.
"uhh, sure." he replied looking still more nervous.
"How about next weekend? I don't have any classes on Friday, we could leave Thursday Night if you don't have any landscaping jobs to do on Friday.", I suggested.
"Uh, yea OK, that sounds fun." he said.
"Great!" I replied. "Here's my number." I added, writing it down on a napkin. "What's yours?"
Kenny wrote his number down on a napkin too, even though his hand was shaking. It was very cute.
We headed outside of Max's, and Kenny's van and my Tesla were the last two vehicles in the customer parking lot.
"It was great talking to you tonight Kenny, and I sure am sorry I didn't get to know you better in High School. I can't wait to go camping next week!"
Kenny stood there looking kind of dumbfounded and didn't say anything. I kissed him on the cheek and got in my Tesla Model X and drove back to the dorm.