Have you looked at a calendar lately?
Well, I’m sitting here, in shock, staring at my 2009 calendar. The awful truth has struck me: We’re about to start a new decade.
We’ve got Halloween, we’ve got Thanksgiving, we’ve got Christmas, and then, bam, we’ll have to start breaking in the 2010s.
I am nowhere near prepared for a new decade. Not that I’m crazy about the 2000s. But doesn’t it seem like yesterday that we were hoarding food and shooting interlopers during the Millennial Apocalypse?
In my mind, the 2000s are still new and unformed. Nobody has even come up with a label for this decade yet. Are they the Swingin’ 2000s? The Roaring 2000s? I don’t think so.
What are the other options?
•The W Decade? Fine, except for that thing that happened in 2008, when America elected the anti-W.
•The “American Idol” Decade? Sure, it was the biggest TV show of the decade. But that just sounds sad.
•The Britney Spears Decade? Even sadder.
•The Cell Phone Decade? That would be like calling the 1840s the Telegraph Decade.
•The Great Recession Decade? Yeah, probably.
•The 9-11 Decade? Yes, even more probably. Unfortunately.
But enough about the 2000s. They’re about to become irrelevant. The real issue is this: We need to prepare right now for the 2010s and whatever fresh hell or sweet heaven that they might bring us.
Brief column digression: Please don’t write and tell me that, from a strict mathematical standpoint, the decade doesn’t start until 2011. Don’t tell me that the first year started with Year One, so every decade thereafter must begin on the 1 instead of the 0. You are right, of course. But you’ll just confuse everybody and convince nobody, because everybody knows that 1960 was in the 1960s and the new millennium began in 2000. Period.
Meanwhile, there is one reason for rejoicing: This new decade will be much easier to enunciate. We’ll be able to save one syllable. The 2000s were hopelessly awkward. We had to say “Two thousand four” and “Two thousand five” and so on. You couldn’t call 2005 “Twenty-five.”
People would have thought you were referring to the reign of Emperor Tiberius.
Now, we can finally use the “twenty” strategy. Next year will be simply “Twenty-ten.” Then we can go right up the ladder to “Twenty-eleven,” “Twenty-twelve” and so on.
You know, I just realized that we still won’t be completely free of the 2000s, even after Jan. 1.
After a decade ends – that’s when people really need to have a convenient label for it. Before that, you can get by with calling it “now.”
So in 2010 our first big communal problem will be, “What do we call – and how do we make sense of – this strange decade that just happened to us?”
Our second problem will be making sure we don’t repeat it.
Let me offer the fervent hope that the Twenty-tens will be an improvement over the Two thousand aughts. We should have known no good would come from a decade called that.