This is not the year-end column I had intended to write.
But over supper at McDonald’s, my son Gideon (my favorite 7th-grader) lamented that I write too many serious columns (like my Veterans Day and Christmas essays) and insisted I should concentrate on more tongue-in-cheek romps.
To keep peace in the family, I dusted off my crystal ball, made some extrapolations based on the trends of 2015 and cobbled together a batch of not-completely-unlikely prognostications for 2016. The headlines:
1. Miss Universe Pageant host Steve Harvey is also hired to announce winner of 2016 presidential campaign; viewers unsurprised when “Dewey defeats Truman” is the result.
2. Pope Francis continues his progressive reforms of the Catholic Church, with innovations such as Nerf rulers for Catholics school nuns, fill-in-the-blank Mad Libs confessional forms, FitBits geared for playing bingo and drone delivery of communion wafers; Saint Peter allegedly riled by the pontiff’s publication of “10 Coolest Afterlife Hacks.”
3. Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch, explores the possibilities of uploading her consciousness to an immortal robotic body; Prince Charles explores the possibilities of having the British Navy conquer a country just for him.
4. Anthropologists in Gobi Desert discover a single temporary crown for a bicuspid and announce yet another cousin species to Homo sapiens; grant application promises, “Let us find a premolar to go with it, and we can tell you who brought tater salad to the family reunion.”
5. U.S. officials continue to do thorough job of vetting refugees; one official overheard saying, “Wait! You mean that guy from last week has a conjoined twin? Son of a gun! He didn’t mention that!”
6. A college president is forced from office for continuing to allow graduates to toss caps into air after receiving diplomas; this insidious form of hate speech OBVIOUSLY makes light of the GRAVITY of the situation facing African-American students.
7. President Obama responds to Donald Trump’s plan to spy on mosques by spying on Pentecostal churches; undercover agent declares, “I have had it with these %$#@ snakes in these %$#@ worship services!”
8. Bans on indoor tanning for teenagers lead to Orange Lives Matter movement.
9. Hipster retro trend gets another boost as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un switches all his torture recordings to vinyl; streaming media replaced with streaming bayonet wounds.
10. Defiant China constructs another mysterious artificial island; construction supervisor would love to attend grand opening, but his mommy won’t let him stay up that late.
11. Rather than moving headquarters overseas, major corporation cuts tax bill by undergoing gender reassignment therapy; declares it makes only 77 cents on the dollar compared to rival companies.
12. Rhinos edge nearer to becoming extinct; losers spending a fortune on rhino horn-based aphrodisiacs edge nearer to getting an actual phone number from an actual girl.
13. Fast-food restaurants go beyond using free-range animals by placing consciousness of chickens and cattle in robotic bodies; trouble ensues as a Rhode Island Red addresses Parliament.
14. Another Secret Service scandal erupts; intoxicated agent drives car into Potomac River while rushing to protect President Dewey.
Yes, most of these scenarios could actually come to pass. Unfortunately, the most predictable headline of 2016 is “Body camera video shows officer telling Danny Tyree, ‘Just put the barely used journalism degree on the ground and nobody gets hurt.’”
Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”