Happy NYE 2030 (A New Year’s Fantasy)

I know, I know, you’ve heard it all before… Next year, things will get better. They can’t get any worse, right?

That’s what we all used to believe. But we thought we knew so much a decade ago, back in 2020, during the early days of The Sickness. In the words of Bob Dylan, “I was so much older then—I’m younger than that now.”

If only.

Still, I try to be positive. Every time New Year’s Eve rolls around, I like to focus on the progress we’ve made against COVID. Tonight I’ll celebrate a dual milestone with my wine-tasting club: the ringing in of the year 2031, and the Thousand Hours of Zoom that we’ve spent getting hammered together since the beginning of The Sickness ten years ago.

I cannot understate the significance of the year 2030. After all the false starts, all the mutations, and all the new generations of vaccines, we’ve finally turned a corner. Because this was the year when we discovered how people really get infected with COVID.

At the beginning, of course, we were told that the virus lived on surfaces and remained deadly for days and even weeks. My grandchildren, who love to hear stories of the Pioneering Days of The Sickness, howl at this antiquated notion. Believe it or not: We actually thought if we forgot our gloves and opened our mailbox four days after the postman had touched it, the chances of dying, on a scale of one to ten, were roughly…thirty-six.

Then, after months of disinfecting every surface in sight with bleach wipes—for those of us lucky enough to secure them—the health experts said “oops”—it’s not on surfaces, it’s airborne. Deadly aerosol droplets could be propelled as far as six feet, contaminating everything in their path. Make that twelve feet. No, twenty feet.

It took several more years of studies to determine that under extreme wind conditions, the virus could travel twenty-six miles down Santa Monica Bay. Let’s not forget that well-documented case in which an asymptomatic surfer who sneezed in Malibu transmitted COVID to a jogger on Torrance Beach, who also remained asymptomatic. We never quite understood what that proved.

Then, “oops” again. Scientists this year made the game-changing discovery that the real culprit all this time has been the way coronavirus particles adhere to Nylon/Lycra/Spandex blended fabrics. This accounts for the stubbornly high rate of infection among yogis and workout enthusiasts. The mandated worldwide closure of all Lululemon outlets has on its own resulted in a forty-one percent decline in new cases.

This important breakthrough has led to several noteworthy improvements in personal protective equipment. It goes without saying, the biggest change we’ve seen this year is the invention of the body mask. Now that we know how the virus transmits, we can continue to wear our favorite stylish activewear as long as we cover up in an antiviral body stocking.

True, body masks are not easy to move around in, and they’re frightfully hot in the summer, but the good news is…no more pesky face masks! We now know that laughing, singing, coughing, spitting, and even projectile vomiting are harmless activities—not dangerous super-spreaders, as we once mistakenly believed.

We are now free to smile at each other, laugh, frown, wrinkle our noses, and even stick out our tongues. After years spent trying to read the crinkle lines around our friends’ eyes above their masks, we once again know what they are all thinking.

Yep. They’re thinking, I’m sick and tired of this fucking virus.

But this time, after ten years, we really and truly have turned a corner. Now that we finally understand this enigmatic microbe, we can function more safely under the latest protocols as we wait for the vaccines to be tweaked yet again.

President Harris has committed to a multi-pronged attack on safety violations. The entire fleet of U.S. Coast Guard ships has been repurposed to sweep the coastlines to identify walkers, skateboarders, and beach volleyball players who are not wearing the mandated body masks. Citizen volunteers with trained dogs will patrol the streets with the same objective.

Violators will be arrested and thrown in jail without hope of parole. Kidding, of course! This is America, after all. But those people will be given a stern talking-to and reminded that we are all in this together. Oh, and that it’s not about politics.

Tonight, before my New Year’s Eve 2030 Zoom party, I’m going to do what I do every week: log onto Uncle Joe’s Fireside Chatroom. I loved it when President Biden started this weekly tradition in his first term in the White House to reassure us during The Sickness. I’m delighted President Harris has allowed him to continue with it even after leaving office.

It’s so comforting to scoop myself a bowl of peanut butter ice cream (Joe’s favorite) and listen to him talk on and on in that calming, sleep-inducing voice we’ve come to know and love, as he plays some nice classic rock tunes on his record player.

From there, on to the Zoom celebration. Being in California, we’ll take advantage of the three-hour time difference and ring in the New Year at 9:00 PM Pacific time, when the ball drops to a once-again empty Times Square. Because who wants to stay up until midnight, alone in our homes at another pretend party, while we spread pretend cheer that next year will be better?

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Who knows anymore? But in the meantime…Happy New Year to all!

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