So Long, Mom! — Some Tips for Those Who Come After Us

D. R.
5 min readMar 2, 2022


“I feel that if any songs are going to come out of World War III we’d better start writing them now.”

— Tom Lehrer, introducing “So Long, Mom (A Song for World War 3)”

A model posing in front of a nuclear bomb’s mushroom cloud in Nevada.

Well, we finally did it. For a few decades we managed to forget about those little fellas. They were sitting gathering dust in Siberia and Montana, relics that brought on feelings of warm nostalgia, akin to finding an Alf plush doll underneath your bed. I suppose anyone reading this would most likely be an ALF themselves, considering that anything left over here probably won’t be able to read for at least a couple million years.

Hopefully you don’t mind radiation, even better if you live on it! There’s a lot of it now, in fact that’s about all that’s left.

“Little Johnny Jones
He was a US pilot
And no shrinking violet
Was he, he was mighty proud
When World War III was declared
He wasn’t scared
No siree!

“And this is what he said on
His way to Armageddon:

“So long, mom!
I’m off to drop the Bomb
So don’t wait up for me
But while you swelter
Down there in your shelter
You can see me
On your TV!”

What happened was, see, we let a few folks get the idea into their heads that the world itself, and all the funny little people on it, belonged to them. They drew lines in the sand, sewed some cloth together, dyed it, and patted us on the backs and told us we were the good guys. There were a lot of “good guys,” we all thought we were the “good guys.” A group of these fellas asked another fella, one of the smartest fellas, to create something that would force everyone to agree that they were the good guys and that the world belonged to them. They were able to say the latter because this device would destroy the world otherwise — we called this diplomacy.

Anyway, this device worked exceptionally well! The only downside, it seemed, was the aftereffects that the device caused after getting rid of some of the bad guys. The aftereffects threatened to hurt the good guys by making our water unsafe to drink, our air unsafe to breathe, and our planet unsafe to live on. Other than that, it was a home run!

So, in an effort to finally settle who the world belonged to once and for all, these good guys built thousands of these devices — just in case anyone got any funny ideas! Unfortunately, another group of good guys figured out how to make the device as well. They thought the world should belong to them, so they built even more of these devices! We called this diplomacy as well.

A few more good guys decided to partake in the fun, all until a majority of these good guys got together and said they needed to prevent the bad guys from building any of their own. In this case, the bad guys were those who didn’t build one of these devices in time to be considered a good guy.

That reminds me of a saying we used to have — “while the going is good.”

Feel free to take that one for yourselves, we’ve got no use for it anymore.

“While we’re attacking frontally
Watch Brin-k-ley and Hun-t-ley
Describing contrapuntally
The cities we have lost,
No need for you to miss a minute
Of the agonizing holocaust!”

Some important things to remember about this place. You’ll want to write these down, so grab a pen.

  1. Nature heals, the dead don’t.
  2. Assume that this is the “golden rule” of life on Earth — “leave the place better than you found it.”
  3. Don’t allow small groups of people to hold the world hostage.
  4. Don’t allow these same small groups to reassure us by saying “don’t worry fellas — if they shoot, we’ll shoot as well!”
  5. Water the plants, if there are any left.
  6. Don’t leave the lights on, we have to be mindful of the remaining climate.
  7. If possible, avoid labeling people as either “good” or “bad.”
  8. Assume this is the only home you’ve got until proven otherwise.
  9. If proven otherwise, still refer to these rules.
  10. Don’t look for anything underground, it ain’t worth it.

“So long, mom!
I’m off to drop the Bomb
So don’t wait up for me,
But though I may roam
I’ll come back to my home,
Although it may be
A pile of debris!”

I wish I could provide you more explanation for why we allowed it to happen. There isn’t a rationality behind it or anything, call it falling asleep at the wheel. We all fell asleep to some degree, we had to.

I suppose it doesn’t matter much now, our ship has sailed.

That’s another one you can use, just remember to give us credit!

One doesn’t really think to wonder what the dinosaurs thought about their own extinction, nor does a cop ask a murder victim to give their side of the story. We had it better than the dinosaurs at least, our extinction took place within the time span of an average episode of television — no commercials!

“Take advantage of Ford’s ‘Summer of Savings’ before the fallout reaches you!”

Ford was a company that made cars. Cars ran on some of that stuff that I highly advise you avoid looking for underground. See, if it wasn’t those aforementioned devices, it would’ve been that sticky stuff underground that did us in. You can’t say we didn’t have a variety of options!

Anyway, I’ll let you have a look around, see if you like the place. Some of the areas that most likely haven’t changed too much include the Mojave, the Sahara, the Chihuahuan, etc.

Bring some sunscreen and shades if you can, wouldn’t want to get skin cancer now, would ya? Speaking of, best not to breathe the air for a while either.

Unless, again, you live off of radiation. In that case — Bon appétit, it’s an all you can eat buffet!

“Remember, mommy,
I’m off to get a commie
So send me a salami
And try to smile somehow!
I’ll look for you
When the war is over
An hour and a half from now!”

I’ll try to leave you with something poignant, to show that we weren’t completely pointless. Be kind to our memory if you wouldn’t mind, we tried our best.

Ah, here’s a good one, from an old song:

“Here’s my moral, plain as day,
Old Man Atom is here to stay.
He’s gonna hang around, it’s plain to see,
But, ah, my dearly beloved, are we?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident:
All men may be cremated equal.”

— Vern Partlow, “Old Man Atom”

Sincerely, the good guys.



D. R.

Agitator, banned-book list hopeful, failed-politician, suit-wearer, soul music-fanatic.