In 1974, I said Richard Nixon would never resign. Ten years later, I announced that Walter Mondale would defeat Ronald Reagan in a landslide. A decade after that, I was sure O.J. Simpson would be found guilty. In 2004, I envisioned a John Kerry victory over George Bush.
That’s why it’s always safer to make long-range forecasts. For example: By the year 2350, all disease will have disappeared, and the average human lifespan will be two hundred years. For all we know, everyone’s immune system will have fallen apart by then, and they’ll have to go to the emergency room when they get a paper cut. But anyone who hears or reads the original prediction won’t live long enough to know that you completely blew the call. On the other hand, if you say Nervous Breakdown is going to win the next Kentucky Derby, and then the horse comes in eleventh, you’ll never hear the end of it.
Incapable of avoiding exposure to ridicule, especially when there’s no good reason to approach it, I offer here my best guesses for the coming twelve months. And while I could refer to them as prophecies or prognostications, that would only invite even more taunting should they fail to come true, which they probably will.
• Astronomers will be stunned to discover that the sun and planets do orbit the Earth after all, and that we really are the center of the universe. However, no one else will be the least bit surprised, and that afternoon everyone will post the news as their own personal status update.
• Long thought to be extinct, the Dodo, a flightless bird from the islands of the Indian Ocean, will be found living in large numbers behind a gas station near Pittsburgh. While healthy and well-adapted to its new habitat, most of the flock will be suffering from low self-esteem, no doubt a result of the name given to it by Dutch sailors in the sixteenth century. Biologists will also be shocked to learn of the name the Dodos have, in turn, given to Dutch sailors.
• The list of medications that patients want to discuss with their physicians will continue to grow. In order to keep track of the potential benefits and side effects, people will record the relevant ads and commercials onto phones for playback during their annual check-up. For this reason, a typical visit to the doctor will be more than five hours long, and waiting rooms will be expanded to the size of airline terminals.
• A new study will reveal that water consumption causes dehydration.
• The use of mobile banking apps will become commonplace as more customers learn that they can now deposit checks simply by taking a picture of them. In a similar development, matrimonial law will become much more streamlined when people find out they can initiate divorce proceedings by emailing the judge a snapshot of their spouse.
• In early March, a new television program will be aired that portrays what actually goes on behind the scenes in the production of a reality show — including how the scripts are written in such a way that they seem to be unscripted, how the footage is edited in such a way that it seems unedited, and how the characters are enhanced with make-up, lighting, and costumes to make them appear completely natural. This will be the final series in the decades-long obsession with reality shows, to be followed immediately by a return to Westerns with cardboard trees, game shows that require contestants to smear each other with whipped cream, and family sitcoms that show everyone dressed up for Thursday dinner.
• Publishers will be forced to pull all Sudoku books from store shelves when they finally figure out that every single one of the forty billion puzzles is exactly the same. Most sudoku enthusiasts will claim they never noticed the repetition, and thought they were just getting smarter.
• A twenty-three-year-old from Mongolia will join the Portland Trail Blazers in October, becoming the tallest basketball player in the NBA. The man, at a height of nine-feet-ten-inches, will be able to slam dunk from a kneeling position and run the length of the court in three steps. A month later, all of the other players will quit out of frustration, and the league will disband. The NBA will secretly resume its schedule the following spring, but without any media coverage, when the man returns to Mongolia to raise rabbits. Basketball player action figures will continue to be sold in retail stores, but will come disguised as enormous shoe salesmen.
• It will be decided once and for all that bowling and golf are not sports. The new designation will include the requirement that competitors in a given activity must, at some point, get out of breath. Further, participants in all games that involve the use of tight-fitting gloves will be lumped in with gardeners and dental hygienists.Law
• Rhode Island will repeal a long-forgotten statute, on the books since 1733, that prohibits women from operating a coffee grinder. Ninety-seven people, all convicted in the early nineteenth century, will receive posthumous pardons.
• The number of suspicious fires will show a dramatic decrease in the second half of the year when, in early July, a man named Arson turns himself in to the police.
• The value of every one of the world’s currencies will shrink in late summer when someone notices that all gold is really zinc decorated with shiny paint.
• Sometime in late April, computer hackers will steal the account data of ninety million credit card holders in the United States and Canada. However, the information will prove useless when it is determined that all of the cards are already maxed out.