At last, we come to the end. How it is that 2020 wound up lasting 36 months or so we’ll never know. That’s a problem for the eggheads up at the college maybe, though whether you should contact Quantum Physics, Poli Sci or the Philosophy Department to try and crack that nut is anybody’s guess. But whatever the case, here, after long and terrible months, we come to the end of the dread year of 2020.
The Observer heard somebody say once that Americans are the only people on earth who just automatically assume things will get better next year, and the next, and the next. Still, short of the dead rising from their graves or a full-on asteroid strike that splits the earth down the middle from Smackover to the Rock of Gibraltar, it’s hard to see how next year, the Year of Our Lord 2021, could be any goddamn worse than this one. If the soon-to-be-shed Trump Era has taught us all anything, though, it’s that “Always Expect the Unexpected” isn’t just good advice, it’s the only thing other than death and taxes that one can count on for certain.
It’s at this point in the year that The Observer usually takes a minute to jot down some New Years’ Resolutions of a sort, whether to make you chuckle or nod knowingly or just share with us for a minute another tick of the great cosmic clock that counts us down through all the days of our lives. While the coronavirus did send most of The Observer’s resolutions from December of last year knickers-over-teakettle, there was one we made that paid off in spades, pointed out to The Observer by a pal recently on Dr. Zuckerberg’s Soon-To-Be-Heavily-Regulated Electric Book o’ Faces. Take it away, December 2019 Observer, you dewy-faced naive child of ignorance at what was to come:
“In 2020, Yours Truly will try to laugh more and gripe less, though that might be a tall order, given that in November of this very year, we’re all going to be faced with the choice between whatever basically decent human being the Democrats stand up and the addled, bigoted orange creature slouching eternally toward Mar-a-Lago to be born, fat little thumbs always at the ready to spread some more cruelty on Twitter. It has been a minor miracle that over the course of the last three years, we haven’t had a large scale, history-changer event like a 9/11, ’29-level stock market crash, Cuban Missile Crisis or Pearl Harbor, as one can only imagine how badly our current White House occupant could screw up any one of those. Give him eight years, and eventually we’re all gonna get unlucky. Saddest thing is, all these Republicans defending him like he’s their dear sainted father know exactly how bad it would be if anything approaching an existential crisis strikes on his watch. But still they cower on.”
So, you know: ding, ding, ding. Good news on the “basically decent human being” part, and — spoiler alert! — he won! As for the other stuff, it’s kinda hard to imagine how Trump could have better fulfilled The Observer’s prediction of his ineptitude in a true crisis, short of him sending infected MAGA nuts door to door to personally cough in the face of every 15th American, but there’s always time, we suppose. Our failure, if there was one, was to assume it would take Trump another term to soil the national bed this badly. Against all odds, he got impeachment and a massive national catastrophe done in one term. But we digress.
All this is to say that The Observer is having a little bit of trouble coming up with resolutions this go-round, other than “Don’t Be the Last Person in Arkansas to Die of COVID-19.” The trouble is two-fold. First, just the folly of trying to plan for the future when 2020 has seen a deadly pandemic, a president who was content to go golfing on fairways littered with corpses, and so many named hurricanes that they had to stop giving them names and go to Greek letters of the alphabet. It’s been a hell of a year, to the point that it kind of mocks the idea of resolutions.
The other part of it, though, is just how content The Observer is over whatever comes, once we’re able to leave this house. No more President Trump, and once we’ve got a vaccine in our arms, no more COVID. No more masks. No more plastic barriers and not being able to hug the ones you love. No more Zooming when you’d rather be there. That’s where we’re headed, and putting any kind of restriction on that, even one so mild as a resolution, seems shortsighted. So, check with us next year. Maybe we’ll have some for you then.
For now, this is all The Observer can think about 2021, other than not being the last man sent home in a bag from World War C: Think of how much you will enjoy the next concert you attend. The next potluck at church. The next night out. The next Arkansas State Fair corndog. The next movie on the big screen. The next reunion. The next hug you get from a friend you bump into on the street. The next ballgame. The next parade. The next time when strangers are all around, breathing the same air, and you don’t care. Imagine that. Imagine how free that will feel to be together again, unmasked. The Observer doesn’t know about you, but when we emerge from this, we’ll never take anything for granted again. We’ll never take YOU, the strangers with whom we share this city, this state and this world, for granted again.
So. Where are you going first when you get that stick in the arm? Wherever it is, The Observer wishes you and yours a healthy and prosperous New Year.