2016 Gives Final Interview Before Upsetting You at Least Once More
2016 has been called unconventional, horrific, and inexplicable, but all the century’s boldest year wants is for you to “stay ready.”
I am sitting in a speakeasy-themed bar, purposely dodging the hipsters of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, while I closely watch 2016 in search of a clue. The annoying setting is perfect for a year reveling in irritation. The room’s bothersome nature is likely why 2016 chose it. Generating and fueling frustration are 2016’s superpowers.
I’m able to smell 2016 before I see it. Not only does it adorn itself with aggravation, it also bathes in vexation before spraying on a perfume with the distinct odor of disappointment. The closer 2016 comes toward me, the more I want to move.
I question first what comes next for a year that’s done so much with so little, but the answer eludes me. 2016 is wily that way.
Its eyes are infused with a mischief and knowing I’m unable to discern until a few hours later when the world learns “Growing Pains” actor Alan Thicke unexpectedly died of a heart attack. It’s another 2016 coup.
“What y’all are going to learn is to respek all I am and all I’ve done,” 2016 says harshly. “I’m done playing with y’all. I’m more than a celebrity killer. I’m an icon.”
Thicke’s death parrots the majority of 2016's surprising moves, typical yet totally without precedent. And this surly year plans to do much more.
The unpredictability is less astonishing for a year curveballs, bombshells, and chaos have come to define. 2016 gleefully displays those characteristics along with confusion, the accidental, and the unusual. Its actions remain permanently parked at the intersection of nonplussed and bemused, and that’s just the way 2016 wants it.
“I told you after I killed Prince and Muhammad Ali in the spring, I’d be the most memorable year on record. I’ve achieved that goal,” 2016 says. “In this millennium, who’s been more impactful than me? No one and I’m unfinished. I still have a few weeks left. Stay ready.”
2016 always has been incredibly vocal about its total disregard for feelings and human life — look at the crisis in Aleppo, the Pulse nightclub massacre, or the deadly Dallas police ambush as examples; but it wasn’t until the summer that 2016 showed off its greatest skill: Pettiness.
“Almost anyone can be reasonable. That’s boring. 2008 was reasonable and now I’ve basically ensured it’ll be erased from history.”
2016 boasts nearly all its decisions have been rooted at a trifling level, which has gone undetected by most.
“Honestly I’ve been so bold in my grime, people shouldn’t even trust babies born this year,” it says. “My influence goes beyond these 366 days,” 2016 adds with a suspicious laugh of someone with more insight than the rest of us.
2016’s malice was so forward thinking it secured a coveted leap year position, adding an extra day to a year participants already wanted to end early. The 52-week-span’s harshest critics have been those who came before. They believe 2016 ruined the reputation of previous years.
“In 12 months, 2016 guaranteed the years 2008 to 2015 will cease to exist. They’ll be erased with little hope of restoration,” 2006 said. “It’s maddening.”
“2016 managed to squeeze all the turmoil, tragedy, and uncertainty of our entire decade into a brief timeline,” the 1960s said in a group statement. “We needed every single year to have this much resonance.”
“There’s no way 2016 isn’t suffering from a severe mental illness — at least I hope that’s true,” 2011 said. “I don’t want to believe a year could be entirely reckless merely for brand recognition. What the hell is 2016, a millennial?!”
Watching 2016 playfully choose among the available spirits, I know it’s no millennial. It’s a year within its own time and space who’s concocted its own beverage and absorbed so much of our focus, no one else notices 2017 cowering on a corner bench. For a moment I leave 2016, who looks to be plotting at least three other things before year’s end.
“Go on. I’ll still be here, but you might not be,” it says with a creepy smirk. “I’m kidding. Or am I? Meh.”
2017 looks stressed — as if it’s longing to be in utero to avoid taking its place on the calendar. The not-yet-realized year goes unrecognized in plain sight, with a breath so rhythmic passersby know it’s the drumbeat of an unavoidable future. Pant. Pant. Panting. Breathe in...slowly. Exhale. Repeat. 2017 is trying desperately to muffle the sound of foreshadowing with this exercise. The effort is futile, but 2017 is either unable or unwilling to stop.
“This is not what I want for my life,” 2017 cautiously whispers, eyes darting around the bar likely in search of its tormentor. “Another year should go before me. 2016 has set me up to fail. It’s not even my choice whether to be merciful or merciless. I’m going to spend all my time handling 2016’s leftovers.”
The smothered drumbeat gets louder as 2017’s anxiety grows.
2017 is quivering, near tears when 2016, the menace from which it’s been hiding, screams, “Stop all that crying you little b****! Year up! Don’t be a punk.”
A startled and visibly fearful 2017 rushes out of the bar, but not before sliding me a note reading, “Help me. Pray for me. Don’t forget me. I want to be better, but I’m not sure I can.”
With the swagger of a schoolyard bully, 2016 sashays toward the newly vacated settee with fervor.
“It’s not my fault I don’t give a f*** about people’s feelings. If anyone had been paying attention, they’d know I was at least 25 years in the making,” it says. “I’m really the culmination of previous choices. History matters.”
“Before judging me, society needs to do some self reflection,” 2016 says then pausing to gaze at the floor where it’s spilled its salty drink. Saltiness is what’s fortified the year. Saline is its lifeblood.
“And they should realize David Bowie really did hold the universe together. Suckers!”