NEW CASTLE, PA—Shaken and needing companionship in this time of national crisis, Jordan Rosling, 26, announced Monday that he has decided to postpone breaking up with longtime girlfriend Allison Ward until the current bioterrorism scare is over.
"I've been thinking of calling it off with Allison for a while, but the time just never seemed right," Rosling said. "Now that we might experience another Black Plague, this really isn't the time. I don't want to die alone, pathetic and girlfriendless."
Rosling said it simply makes more sense to wait until the Al-Qaeda terrorist network is completely dismantled before ending things with Ward.
"It's been almost six months since I started feeling like Allison and I weren't a forever thing," Rosling said. "So what's a few months more? If we capture [Osama] bin Laden, and it's clear that nothing worse than these anthrax letters is going to happen, then I can make some of these life decisions. But as for right now, I have serious fears about how long my life will even last."
Despite his urge to end the relationship, Rosling said things are "okay" with Ward.
"Why rock the boat?" Rosling asked. "We're at war. I don't want to be watching CNN, freaking out all by myself the next time something major happens. I've been with Allison for four years, and we've had some good times. It would be just plain stupid to break it off now."
Rosling, who recently read Germs: Biological Weapons And America's Secret War, said the recent anthrax attacks are "nothing compared with the shit that could happen."
"If smallpox is unleashed on the U.S., there'd be millions of deaths," Rosling said. "They stopped immunizing kids for it in 1972, and immunity to smallpox diminishes with time, anyway. If a terrorist successfully spreads smallpox here, one in three people could die. And those odds are too scary to face all on my own."
Also contributing to Rosling's reluctance to break up with Ward is the fact that he has few other people to turn to besides her.
"Pretty much all of my good friends have spouses or significant others of their own. So if something happened, they'd be with them, not me," Rosling said. "I don't want to die as a third wheel, all covered in weeping sores and rasping out my last breath as some couple wished I would give them some privacy."
While his primary fear is bioterrorism, Rosling said he is also nervous about the possibility of a chemical-weapons attack or nuclear strike against America.
"Can you imagine sitting there all by yourself, knowing you're going to die from radiation sickness?" Rosling said. "Then there's the added worry of our current recession. What if it turns into something on the level of the Great Depression? That would definitely not be the time to be on the singles scene."
Rosling insisted that his decision to put off the breakup is not a selfish one.
"Even though I've realized we're just too different for things to work long-term, I really do care deeply about Allison and wish only the best for her," Rosling said. "If she's going to die, I want to be there for her, too. I would feel so guilty if I dumped her in her final days."
Though he termed the scenario a "long shot," Rosling said he sometimes fears that Ward will break up with him and find a new boyfriend right before a major bio-attack.
"Then the new guy would be with Allison for a whirlwind one-month romance before dying together," Rosling said. "She would be passionately falling in love in a time of doom, living every moment as if it's their last. It might even be that Mark guy she works with. I don't think I could handle that."
Rosling said things might be different if there were "women knocking down [his] door," but that is not—and has never been—the case.
"I've never exactly been the ultimate ladies' man," Rosling said. "So let's say I break up with Allison, and in three months, the whole world ends. I might not be able to find anyone to have sex with for the rest of my life. That would suck so bad."
There are other practical considerations, as well.
"If I break up with Allison, I'd probably move to L.A., where I have this good friend who can give me a job," Rosling said. "But the last place you want to be if there's a smallpox outbreak or a nuclear attack is a major city. No, I'd better stay right here in New Castle with Allison."
Dr. Sheila Durkin, therapist and author of the bestselling crisis-management guide Calm Down!: Staying Sane In An Insane World, said Rosling's behavior is not surprising.
In times of imminent danger, our self-preservation instinct takes over, and we seek out personal bonds that bolster our feelings of security and comfort," Durkin said. "Given the circumstances, it's only natural that Jordan would behave like a spineless, self-centered prick."