2020. What kind of a year is that?
2020. What kind of a year is that?
It doesn't even look like a year.
It looks like a vision test score, or a tie game, or the latest smartphone.
I, for one, will struggle with this one.
It was hard enough to start writing "20-" instead of "19-" on my checks; writing "20" twice is not going to happen without a lot of frustrated scribbling.
Not that I write checks anymore.
These days, on the rare occasion that a paper check is necessary, my pen hovers over my checkbook while I try to recall what my mother taught me before I left for college: recipient here, amount there, amount again (written out in words this time), and so on.
That was the beginning of years of check-writing. When my daughters were growing up, I wrote checks to department stores, to the grocery, to school, to summer programs -- filling out the blanks the way a casino worker deals out cards: wap wap wap wap, without even looking.
Now my checkbook is at the bottom of my purse, crumpled and ripped, all but abandoned. The checks themselves are creased and bear the faint scribbles of the uncapped pens that rattle around in there with them.
I'm embarrassed to write a check that looks like I plucked it from the chicken house, but I can't choose a cleaner one because it turns out I'm down to my last check. I've probably been down to my last check for 13 years.
I consider writing "Sorry so messy" on the "for" line, but a vestige of self-respect stops me. "If the check is good, you don't need to apologize for its looks," I tell myself.
Still, I'm reminded of the times I took my small daughters into town to grocery shop or visit the library and noticed only after we were out in public that their coats looked like they'd been rolling in wet gravel, which they no doubt had been.
Then the decision was whether to mention loudly that, goodness, we need to go home and put those coats in the washer, don't we! or lift my chin and carry on without a word.
Now my decision is either to accept this ridiculous-sounding year or fight it with all I have. I'd like to choose the second one, if only on principle, but in the end, we all know where fighting gets a person: nowhere.
It's as useless as fighting the change from 1999 to 2000, when everyone was placing bets about what the world's computers were going to do at midnight. Would they roll over as smoothly as a car's odometer or explode like so many pinatas, with a gush of confetti and fun-size candy bars?
So fine, 2020 it is -- unless it's pronounced "two thousand twenty."
For most of the past decade, I went with "two thousand one," "two thousand two" and so on until I realized that to be consistent, I'd have to say "two thousand twenty-one, two thousand twenty-two" when I had not said, "One thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine" when we were living in the olden days.
Obviously, it's time I joined the 21st century. In no time, we'll be talking about the '60s, and we won't mean the distant past of the counterculture, war protests and the Beatles -- though the background music of the 2060s surely will include "Yellow Submarine" and the "na na" part of "Hey Jude." Life won't change that much, I hope.
From now on, then, I plan to mention the year loudly and often. "Now that it's 2020, I guess I'll finally make tweeting a habit." (No, I won't.) "Of course, I stream live TV! It's 2020, after all." (No, I don't.) "Do I know the meaning of yeet? It's 2020; what do you think?" (I had to look it up just now.)
But wait. Two grandchildren, now in first grade, will be members of the class of 2031.
The one now in preschool will be in the class of '34. Maybe '35. I'm afraid to calculate it.
On second thought, I'm going to fight this with all I have.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.