Dear 2020: PHPHPTT! (Nods to Bloom County.)
By the time this gets to print, one of two potential hurricanes will have hit the Gulf Coast with the other right on its tail. Normally we’d all be flabbergasted by this, but not this year. This is 2020, or as some of call it, Jumanji: Level 6. The degree of absurdity we’ve all experienced this year is astonishing but wait! There’s more to come! First, however, let’s consider how we got here. The year began seemingly normal enough. President Donald Trump faced an impeachment trial and was acquitted. The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, ending a 50-year drought and, more importantly, saving the country from having to endure watching the New England Patriots in the big game.
Then came the return of the XFL after 19 years in the dustbin of history. Australia was on fire. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle removed themselves as British royalty and then England left the European Union. Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. Hollywood hotshot Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and other sexual shenanigans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up her copy of the State of the Union address.
Oh wait, that was the normal part of the year. While all this was going on the coronavirus made its way from China around the world to the United States. Now I’m not going to get too persnickety about how it started, but there are rumors of everything from undercooked bats to top secret labs and a slew of conspiracy theories that abound from there – one of them includes a thieving monkey. The thing is, we know it came from China and it is here causing all kinds of mayhem.
Actually, all of this codswallop isn’t from the virus but our response to it. Everything stopped, except a run on toilet paper. The XFL folded, sports leagues shut down, the stock market crashed, and murder hornets began invading Washington State. Fortunately, the invasion was called off because we never heard anything more about it. My guess is the critters freaked out at the first bite of the nincompoops up there and left.
Spring break began for most students and never really ended. No one returned to classes. Everything went online. All of a sudden we were a nation of homeschoolers. (For many, that nightmare is continuing as school resumes this August.)
Then came news that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had died, but that, too, was canceled. Apparently that whippersnapper is still alive and plotting evil deeds in a secret lair. I’m sure we’ll hear more from Un before the year is over.
While we were all hunkered down trying to flatten the curve, officials changed the name of coronavirus to COVID-19, though most of us use the terms interchangeably or simply call it The Rona. It was during this time we re-evaluated what jobs are and are not important. Those with important jobs were allowed to keep working while the rest got to stay home and file for unemployment, which paid them more than they were making in the first place. That’s because the dingleberries in Congress and the White House felt it was best to go a couple trillion dollars deeper in debt to buy votes – er, I mean, keep the economy afloat during the pandemic.
As the year progressed, astronomers lost a star, mystery drones appeared over Colorado and Nebraska, the Pentagon released videos of UFOs, and Planters killed off Mr. Peanut, only to resurrect the mascot a short time later. Netflix made waves with its documentary series “Tiger King” which had everyone talking except those of us who dropped Netflix and subscribed to Disney+ instead. Oh yeah, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed to 2021 (for now).
Then came the great tragedy of 2020 when George Floyd, an African American, died after a white police officer in Minneapolis held him down with his knee on his neck for about nine minutes. The riots and protests that broke out across the land afterward caused all kinds of kerfuffle. The best thing to come out of it was a better understanding of racism and an open dialog between whites and people of color. Apparently the fine folks at The Associated Press were so flummoxed by the whole thing they determined that black should be capitalized when referring to race, but white will not be.
We also saw “peaceful protestors” attack statues and monuments, defacing and tearing down mostly Confederate statuary but also ones that had nothing to do with slavery or the War Between the States. The police generally did nothing in response, which I suspect was largely due to calls to defund the police in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Several liberal cities, including Austin, became so discombobulated over the whole thing, they began slashing police department budgets, which is really going to help provide police with better race relations training and give the citizenry more protection when the riots resume after the Minneapolis cops go to trial. Those pumpernickels in Seattle went as far as to cordon off the police station and create an “autonomous zone.” After that they posted a list of supplies they needed people to donate to them. So much for “autonomous.”
Fast forwarding to now, we find ourselves in extraordinary times. It’s late August and the NBA is playing out last season in a bubble, the NHL is playing for the Stanley Cup without fans, and MLB is playing a shortened season without fans. The NFL is trying to ramp up but will be mostly without fans. The XFL was purchased out of bankruptcy by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his ex-wife and could be returning this spring.
This brings me to politics. It’s a presidential election year and after listening to months of malarky and watching candidates skedaddle from the race, we are now down to the two contenders: A forgetful canoodler – er, codger – and a vainglorious, self-aggrandizing bully.
Both of these flibbertigibbets are flooding the airwaves and social media with enough gobbledygook and poppycock to make us wish the murder hornets would come back and relieve us of this misery.
At this point I must stop and confess that if you thought this was a commentary on how weird 2020 has been so far, you’ve been bamboozled. This column is actually a response to a challenge made to me on Facebook by my friend, Chelsea Walters. I shared a meme about the “best words ever.” She dared me to use them all in a column. I got all of them in except thingamajig and whatchamacallit. And now my mission is complete.