Below are a few predictions for the year 2010.
• It is revealed within the next few days that at the annual David O. Dodd memorial service last week, the Boy Martyr himself appeared in zombie form, his head bobbing wildly at the upper end of his 5-foot-long neck, but that he was discreetly wished back to his resting place in Mount Holly Cemetery by an attendee-admirer, a man named Griffin Dweeb, using a mysterious monkey's paw.
• An unannounced and uninscribed Zoroastrian monolith rises on the State Capitol lawn next Christmas; Family Council blames godless abortion advocates.
• ED crisis threatens Duggar Guinness pursuit.
• Like a sawblade in the cake, Betsey Wright attempts furtive entry into the Miss Arkansas pageant as Miss Cummins Unit.
• Oaklawn Park announces that its spring race meeting will reduce the payout on wagering to 0 percent, with all proceeds, minus taxes, going to the track. Payout on poker machines in the casino also reduced to 0 percent. Bettors barely notice the policy change, since the bottom-line outcome for practically all of them is little affected.
• Frank Broyles experiences transfiguration, oinked off to glory by winged and ululating cherub boars.
• As a change of pace, the Gillett Coon Supper this year features possum innards.
There are more predictions where those came from, but I want to use the rest of today's space to make an apology. I know you're already at least a week beyond being sick and tired of New Year's predictions columns, and this offering is even harder to justify inasmuch as the year is already 4 percent gone. Making predictions for 96 percent of a year is not timely journalism. It's about as stale as the journalism gets in a publication as cutting-edge as this one. About as lame as it gets, too.
But this isn't altogether my fault. Our Arkansas Times publication schedule here in the bleak midwinter is a little unconventional, and this being our first regular issue of 2010, it's my first opportunity to peer into the 2010 glass ball and give you a fair and balanced report on what I've espied there. The ball remains cloudy until the year actually turns, so those prognosticators who plunged early were just making stuff up. They're no different from astrologers or necromancers or televangelists mind-melding Biblical prophesy.
If you wonder why they even bother — why the charade — I can answer that. It's because bogus predictions are a lot easier of composition than hard-thought treatments of important topics such as politics, finance, education or dog-peter gnats. If even the op-ed feebs at the local daily can hoke up a few predictions that are either too earnest or wholly lacking in earnestness, and get them published, then you know that there can't be a hell of a lot to it. So they get a little extra holiday time off to be with their families, probably to their families' considerable dismay.
If you're a week past being sick and tired of columns looking ahead to 2010, you must be two weeks past being weary of those looking back on 2009. My guess is that you were already worn out thinking about 2009 along about mid-May, and that by mid-October you had quietly resolved that if you made it through to the end of the son-of-a-bitch, you would put it out of your mind for the duration.
History or psychology ought to develop a process similar to the judicial one that would allow a year like 2009 to be declared a nullity and then put away some place in a musty archive where it wouldn't trouble immediate memory. I don't mean ignoring history or rewriting it like the Soviet or Oceania drones — because then we'd have to repeat the sorry thing. But what would it hurt to put the memory of it in a drawer with a Don't-open-for-50-years sign on it like on Mark Twain's blasphemies or John F. Kennedy's brain?
The denouement of 2009 not only brought out the usual depressing year-end rehashes, it also obliged you to to look back in sorrow over the decade that's being called The Aughts. I thought it should be called the Double Aughts, like the buckshot, because each of its crummy years had the two zeroes in the middle. Jethro Bodeen, recalling the spy, would have called it the Double Naught decade.
It was a vile decade — the most inane of the seven I've lived in or through. Willful ignorance was ascendant and boundless greed ruled, obnoxious guised up as clever, and courtesy died, as did felicity of public expression, and the old-time cheerful willingness to agree to disagree. The Double Aughts threw journalism to the dogs, and tried to do as much for science. And maybe the worst thing about it was how shallow it got, and stayed. Imbeciles rose to prominence in the Double Aughts. If you had gumption enough to come in out of the rain, you probably didn't fare as well.
Let the dead bury the dead, it is written. Double Aught ghoulies and boy martyrs with stretched necks. The late stinky ano. To the extent that I've been complicit in keeping them topside and a-dangle, I do humbly beg your pardon.