Cheer Up, Mopey 

It's nowhere near as bad as it'll probably get

Everyone who's looking forward to 2007, hold your hand up. Keep'em up now, I don't want to miss anyone. Let's see ... one, two, three ... four, over there in the corner. Um, anyone else? OK, then, four people are looking forward to 2007, while everybody else thinks it will be a bummer.

Not all of you are expecting the same bummer, of course. Some are uber-angsted that Democrats are now in control of Congress. (I imagine there are those who would rather see the avian flu show up in Starbucks coffee than Speaker Nancy Pelosi as second-in-line for the presidency.) And I know for a fact there are plenty of folks who can hardly bear the thought that we still have to put up with George. (Isn't there some compromise we could reach between letting him stay in power and impeachment? Like, for instance ... couldn't we just put him in a cardboard box and drop him off at the dog pound some night?)

Then there's the prospect of having every word Hillary Clinton utters reported on in excruciating detail, as with Giuliani, Johns Edwards and McCain, Obama and any number of lesser luminaries. But politics isn't the only thing that has folks dreading the year ahead. According to an end-of-the-year poll, 60 percent of Americans expect there to be another terrorist hit on the country this year, while 70 percent see the bad news coming from nature, a la Katrina. This means there is an overlap of up to 20 percent who believe we'll get it from both terrorists and nature. So if we see a radical up-tick in morbid agoraphobia, that might explain it.

And about global warming ... know how disturbing it is to break a tooth? Makes you feel like you're falling apart, doesn't it? I can testify to that particular unpleasantry from recent experience. During Christmas dinner, I lost a chunk of molar the size of Rhode Island. OK, it wasn't that big. But for the effect it had on my mood, it may as well have been. So think how the collective subconscious must have felt when that Canadian ice shelf broke off a couple of weeks ago. And that was the size of Rhode Island! We can expect a lot more of that sort of disintegration in the near future. Kiribati, an island chain off New Zealand, is disappearing under the Pacific, and more will certainly follow. The Marshall Islands. Vanuatu. Micronesia. And does anyone truly believe we'll be doing anything about it?

Oh, yeah, Interior Poobah Kempthorne just announced he is considering the Arctic's iconic creature for the Endangered Species list. But as far as I'm concerned, with Dirk in charge of looking out for threatened animals, we might as well kiss our polar bears good-bye.

And did I mention that somebody has discovered Louisiana is slipping into the Gulf and that the mega-volcano under Yellowstone looks like it's getting ready to pop? Yup, Little Rock could soon be a seaport and everything within a 400-mile radius of Henry's Fork could soon be a smoldering crater.

But hey. I'm not here to make you feel worse than you already do. Let's hunt up some silver lining, what say? Like the Broncos. They sure made you happy, didn't they?

Only ... that won't last. I give it another week until you have to confront the harsh reality that other people--younger, better-looking, physically-fit people--winning a football game didn't make your prospects one bit rosier. Now possibly, when Ms. Pelosi and her new majority bring the minimum wage up to a more reasonable standard, your prospects might improve a tad. But even then, you will inevitably realize that at $7.25 an hour, you'll have to work 44 years to make what Coach Peterson does in one. Gosh, I don't want to bring you down, but can you really be worth that much less than him?

If that thought gets you to feeling really worthless, you can always turn to your loving family for solace, eh? Trouble is, with divorce rates running at 50-odd percent, the chances of you coming home to an empty house and a court order are about 10 million times better than you hitting the Power Ball. After all, there's nothing in Idaho's new Marriage Protection amendment that says she has to keep loving your ever-widening ass, is there?

Sure, you could lose weight ... maybe make some new friends when all your old ones side with the ex. As we're being constantly reminded, Americans keep getting fatter and fatter, all while becoming more isolated from the communities around us. So, were you to ease up on the nachos while sitting on the computer, lying to other chat-roomers, there's a chance you'd slim down and maybe meet some real people. But that's about as likely as a year without an E-coli outbreak, huh?

I know! Let's talk about how much better the situation in Iraq is now that Saddam's had his neck-stretching. And when Bush ships another 20 ... 30 thousand of our boys and girls over there, we'll have that baby in the bag.

Heck, you might even want to sign up to go yourself. Think about it ... that little obesity problem would go away, you'd make lots of new friends, after three or four tours in Iraq, you'd be acclimated for all the global warming they can throw at you. (Keep your head down, though. At the rate it's going, I figure we'll hit 4,000 sometime around the end of October, and that's one benchmark you don't want to be part of.)

So see? Things aren't all that bad. I wouldn't even be surprised if this is the year that outfit you work for decides not to out-source your job to Calcutta. Not as long as you're willing to give up your health insurance, that is. And your profit-sharing plan. And Saturdays.

But you'll be busy, that's what counts. And before you know it, '07 will be over with. Then you can start dreading '08. Now excuse me. I have a root canal to get to.

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