Hi, my name is Candice, and I’m a preptard. ("Hi, Candice!") If you’re unfamiliar with the term, allow me to educate you. A "preptard" is a person who loves to prepare for future events. I’m not talking about birthdays, holidays, or vacations; those scenarios are far too sane. I’m talking about events that have taken a hard left on Wonky Road straight into Bonkers Territory: zombie outbreaks, the Biblical apocalypse, and the end of the Mayan calendar incurring the annihilation of the world (I’m still not totally convinced this hasn’t already occurred and we’re actually all dead and caught in some kind of very boring limbo).

The definition of a preptard is, "One who prepares in great detail for highly improbable scenarios, while they cannot be bothered to set out clothes or a sack lunch for tomorrow’s work day." It is a disease that plagues millions of people across the globe, every waking hour. Most people don’t even realize they’re affected. They believe that setting aside bundles of grenades and a chest full of shotgun shells in lieu of the impending Chinese invasion is just good common sense.

But what’s worse is that preptards are contagious. A virulent case of preptardness can soak into the crevasses of surrounding impressionable minds, leaving in its wake hundreds of storage spaces stacked with dusty MREs, and WordPress sites flooded with all-caps rants in lime green Comic Sans on a black background.

From what my drinking buddy tells me about his AA meetings, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. But before you can admit you have a problem, first you must recognize if you are, indeed, a preptard. The following are some of the key attributes all preptards have in common.

1. Per definition, you have a written list of supplies and plans on where to go and what to do when the zombies come, but no idea what you’re going to wear or eat for dinner tomorrow.

It isn’t necessary that this instruction manual be drafted, framed, and hung over the mantle beside your shotgun and DVD collection of Doomsday Preppers. Maybe you have it memorized and every night after being tucked into bed, you must recite it aloud to yourself to fall asleep. Either way, your frozen lasagna is still stuck to the bottom of your freezer and you’ve long foregone the sensation of wearing clean clothes.

My husband and I regularly discuss our End of the World plans. We argue about the choicest weapons to wield, whether or not the enemy is a "zed head" coming for my brains or a lunkhead coming for my supplies. While we both agree on a 9mm pistol and 12 gauge shotgun (used only in dire situations, of course), he also favors the crowbar. While crowbars are useful on many levels, I prefer to remain as far from assailants as possible. That’s why I insisted on learning to bow hunt.

My self-titled redneck father-in-law was delighted by my sudden 180 from liberal artsy-fartsy-pants to bow-hunting babe. He bought me a bow and taught me the ropes on archery and hunting. I have yet to skewer a non-foam animal with my newfound skill. In all honesty, I’m indifferent to hunting. I buy the licenses, shimmy up trees, and huddle in pop-up blinds, but mostly with the goal of racking up stealth points than long-range-shanking a deer to death. All I care about is learning to consistently hit my intended target (zombies being the most difficult, since the kill shot is limited to their creepy craniums). Even my workouts are designed to afford me the strength and stamina required for the eventual running, ducking, and arrow slinging that will be my life post-zombie-outbreak. Fitting into skinny jeans is just a happy side-effect.

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While my apocalypse-archery skills improve with persistent devotion and discipline, I still have yet to fold and put away my laundry. The clothing pyramid on my bedroom floor could be considered the eighth wonder of the ancient world by now. At least they’re clean.

2. You have a constant sense of impending doom.

Some might call it paranoia. You refer to it as "cautious awareness of all the signs and connections." But you aren’t frightened by the inevitable peril. On the contrary, it fills you with a giddiness usually reserved for raging nerds at Comic-Con.

I logically understand that the probability of some kind of historical, world-changing disaster occurring in a way that it directly affects my own personal survival here in the Midwest is so low that contemplating it for even a minute of my existence is a waste of time and energy. But deep down, there is a North America-size sinkhole that cannot be filled with first-world problems, like new boots that won’t stay zipped up, not paying my internet bill on time, and worrying that George R. R. Martin will die before finishing A Song of Ice and Fire.

3. Only you and a handful of others know the truth—what’s really going on.

What some may call "conspiracy theories," you call "undeniable reality." You may shun the non-believers, insisting they are just too closed-minded to see the truth. Nevermind that the overall consensus is that your beliefs are not concurrent with reality. You know better. You feel special for knowing more than them. Maybe you even feel like you were chosen to know these terrible truths.

If others try to prove you wrong, you have a tendency to use the argument that everyone also once believed the world was flat or that the sun rotated around the earth. All other theories were deemed unpopular and discredited by the majority. So why should your unpopular theory that shape-shifting alien reptiles are actually taking over the world be so easily invalidated?

Pfft. Silly majority.

I have developed a tendency to see the universe as a culmination of probabilities. Everything that has occurred, is occurring, and will occur is attached to a probability of its development or existence. Depending on the circumstances, factoring in all of the variables in a given situation, there is a way to determine the probability of something happening. Whether that something is a tornado, a child celebrity meltdown, or a New World Order implanting brain control devices into the base of your children’s skull, there is a statistical probability for that thing to transpire.

For instance, the likelihood of a tornado demolishing Bob’s Beef Bar in Bungtown, Kansas in the merry month of May is far higher than, say, a tornado flinging sasquatch into Seattle’s Space Needle in January. However, that’s not to say that the latter scenario could never happen. It’s just (far!) less likely.

4. You own a fully-functional bomb shelter/bunker.

Zombie apocalypse bunker in backyard 

Not only do you own one and keep it well-maintained, but you regularly perform drills to ensure the success of your plans when shit hits the fan and Big Brother’s drones come to drop a weaponized Ebola-Smallpox hybrid on your house.

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Living in an apartment complex doesn’t afford me the luxury of building or owning a nearby bomb shelter or underground bunker. I e-mailed my current apartment complex manager about my dilemma:

"Hello. I was wondering if we humble tenants have access to any bunker or shelter in the case of a bioterrorism event or zombie apocalypse (or, at the very least, a tornado or, heaven forbid, a zombinado)? Thanks."

Not only was their response replete with bungled English ("We are share the storm shelters"), but apparently the residents at my complex don’t technically have our own shelter. The company that owns our complex built shelters for another complex down the road. That means, in the event of a crisis, we would have to either run or drive down the road through the storm, past the reanimated corpses, and around the other panicked tenants to the shelter. Assuming we arrived without bearing fatal wounds, the shelter might already be packed to the max by the complex’s tenants. Also, I assume they were built to provide protection solely against tornadoes. Nowhere in the e-mail did they mention the shelter’s capacity to withstand bio-engineered weapons or invasions by the undead. So, no, I don’t have a shelter or bunker.

5. Everything about you, down to the type of vehicle you own, where you live, and who you married, has been carefully and deliberately orchestrated to account for your fight or flight plan.

Nothing about you or your preptard plans are half-assed. Your whole existence is one strategic maneuver after another, meticulously calculated to beat the odds and survive the coming apocalypse or socialist government take-over. You have left nothing up to chance. When the time comes, you realize with full gravity of the situation that it may be up to you to repopulate the earth or defeat the invading alien forces. And you are more than ready for the challenge.

I married for love. While working side-by-side for over six years at a TV news station, he and I inevitably bonded. There were other aspects that he and I had in common. Namely, that we shared a penchant for horror movies and, should one of the ghastly tales bar us from a life of normalcy, have devised genre-appropriate survival plans.

6. When doomsday hasn’t yet arrived, you’re a little disappointed.

You may even start to plan a way to get the ball rolling, Helter Skelter style. But your disappointment does not last for long. You begin discovering other signs that indicate the end of the world is near-at-hand. Soon enough, your enthusiasm reigns once again, and you count this as an opportunity to be even more prepared than you were before.

Now, with all that being said, let me clarify that there is nothing inherently wrong with being a preptard. Live in the woods, build your bunkers, stockpile ammo and canned goods, star in an episode of Doomsday Preppers. What do I care if you forget to pack your lunch or wear clean underwear? Just know this: If whatever crazy, irrational, totally misappropriated use of your mental faculties type of loony theory you hold dear happens to come true…I knew you were right all along.

Can I stay in your bunker?

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