It is the last triple date of the century, very likely the last time you will be alive (presuming you don't have special powers, are immortal, or have discovered and consumed that fountain of youth everybody was looking for way back when) to see the dates roll off the calendar in repetition so perfectly. That's right, it's going to be hard to beat 12/12/12 for a while, since the next calendar year is a '13, and the months just don't go up that high. Or, as ABC News' Susan Donaldson James writes, "The next time three numbers will align as they did on 9-9-09, 10-10-10 and 11-11-11 will be on Jan. 1, 3001, or 1-1-1"—presuming, of course, that the world doesn't end, in which not only would this be the last repetitive date you'll see but also, well, there's not much time left for any dates. But don't worry about that—NASA says it's not gonna happen (and the government agrees!). Worry instead about these 12 things you absolutely need to do on the only opportunity you're going to have to do things on 12/12/12.
1. Read this newspaper article from the New York Times, dug up by New York magazine's Stefan Becket. It's a 100-year-old "fluff piece" printed on the occasion of the previous 12-12-12, during which very few of us were alive. Yep, that's 1912. Highlights include the old-timey spelling of "to-day" and the old-timey recommendation of what to do to-day: "For those who delight in that sort of amusement to-day is a day to celebrate by writing a great many letters and dating them, each and every one, 12-12-12." Whee! And there are some pretty eerie spot-on predictions, too: "When again a person takes pen in hand to indite a letter with the figures 12-12-12 in the date line, an entire century will have passed, and the earth will be peopled by quite entirely another generation." A generation of people who don't even use pens! Golly.
2. Get married. This is an auspicious date for marriage, so ... do it. What are you waiting for? Alternatively: pregnant? Book yourself a C-section, like mothers around the globe (apparently) who want to ensure that their children have fortuitous births.
3. In order to do No. 2, MEET SOMEONE FIRST. Surely said individual will marry you if you tell him or her that 4. It's 12/12/12 and 5. The world might end in a week. But then ...
6. ... Consider why you are insisting on getting married in the first place, on this date, at this time. If the aforementioned person is really so keen to marry you, after only knowing you a few hours, not even 12 of them, is that a signal that perhaps he or she is not the One, or that you just don't know yet? Are you rushing into things? Also, consider marriage in general, as a thing, as a lifestyle choice: Why must a person marry? Is marriage for you? Do you even want kids? You know nothing of this person! You are not even so sure about yourself.
Have an existential crisis. Let that take you through much of the day, in which you will ponder and put your chin in your hand and frown and knit your eyebrows, thinking and plotting and wondering what all of this means, what is this thing we call life? Ultimately convince yourself that there's no need to rush things, love happens when it happens. What's so great about 12/12/12 that can't be even greater on, say, 6/15/2016, when you have enough money for a down payment on a small house or apartment and can really do things the "right" way?
7. Buy some coffee. This has nothing to do with 12/12/12, but it's been either a very long day or a very short morning, and those thoughts you've been having are pretty intense, and you need a pick-me-up. We're all tired, right? It's that time of year. So, coffee. If it's been a long day and it's after, say, 5 p.m., you have my permission to make this a cocktail. Do not drink 12 of them. Do not drink 12 of anything on this day, except maybe glasses of water, and even then, you're pushing it.
8. Meet 11 of your "best friends" and have your photo taken together, for posterity, making "12" symbols with your hands. Ignore the bartender's grimace when you request unending do-overs. It's 12/12/12, after all. A once in a lifetime experience!
9. Realize that the "12" symbol does not come easy, so divvy up "1s" and "2s" instead of trying to each make a full "12." Get "2" and can't figure that out, either—even if you put your whole arm into it it just looks like a dying swan; with two arms, what is that, even? Find some posterboard and a Sharpie and draw a large 12. Take 12 photos, two of which will be good enough to post on Facebook, whatever that means. Tag 9 of your friends, because 2 of them refuse to be on Facebook.
10. Realize maybe someone already had this idea for a blog post. Are there things to do on 12/12/12 that we haven't thought of? There always are! Google. Find many articles listing things to do on 12/12/12. Peruse them thoughtfully, without judgment, conserving the best tips for yourself. For example, Boston.com's editors suggest you "eat festive cupcakes" (12?), hum "the 12 Days of Christmas" (and then take in a showing of The Nutcracker), and get a $12 pitcher of beer. You could also eat some cheese (always recommended) or tour Fenway park, if you're in Boston or its environs. If you're not, over at MLive.com, there are other suggestions. If you purchase a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts today, you'll get a dozen free. Not a donut fan? Buy a Powerball ticket, or wish a kid who turns 12 today happy birthday, or, well, look for yourself, you have eyes, too. Meanwhile, from ABC News: Get deep. Consider what the day portends.
11. Wonder what the people of Twitter have to say about all this; they're always up to something over there! Learn the following:
i declare today national mic check day: "check 121212...."— Questo of The Roots (@questlove) December 12, 2012
Everyone is like its 12/12/12 ahhh wow so cool!I'm like...it's Frank Sinatra's Birthday...come on people.#getreal— Matthew Lariscy (@mlariscy) December 12, 2012
Yes, 12/12/12 is a "once-in-a-lifetime" date. EVERY date is once-in-a-lifetime. That's how time, and the keeping track of it, works.— jennifer laughran (@literaticat) December 12, 2012
Also, note this game-changer! It's not only a date ... it's a TIME, too!
What are you doing at 12:12 pm today? Happy 12.12.12— Alice Lipowicz (@AliceLipowicz) December 12, 2012
12. Go home and go to bed, eventually—probably at the end of the day is best—counting 12 sheep (are there really 12, or is it just 1, jumping over a fence again and again?) and considering the soothing words of "Underwood Dudley, a retired professor of mathematics at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and author of Numerology," quoted by Donaldson James: "It's just a cute day," he said.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.