2016: The year in review

While perusing my Facebook newsfeed these past few days, taking in the reactions to recent events, one status in particular stood out from rest. It focused on the attention journalists have been giving to celebrities and pop musicians over the election results: “I’m not really sure how to comment,” this person wrote. “I’ll just shed a few more tears of frustration and disbelief into my coffee.”

I put down my phone and gazed down into my own cup of coffee, picked up a nearby spoon and gave it a good stir. The tears, I have found, provide a pleasantly savory, salty taste to the coffee, which pairs well with eggs and toast. And while I know I would probably enjoy the coffee more without the tears, I have nonetheless grown accustomed to it.

The past year has brought a series of calamities that have proven difficult to reconcile. We have lost David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Janet Reno, and now Leonard Cohen (whose timing seems impeccable in retrospect, as if he saw Tuesday’s election results, mulled it over for a second and said, “Well, I think I’ll be going now. So long,” and slipped away from this world. Can’t say I blame him for it). We have witnessed Brexit, numerous police shootings, ongoing armed conflicts in various parts of the globe, and a widespread infestation of invisible Pokemon.

And now we have just elected Donald Trump as president of the United States.

The election was going to be historic regardless of the outcome. Hillary Clinton would have been the nation’s first female president; Donald Trump, the nation’s first orange president.

We got the first orange president.

I think the natural question to ask at this point is, how did it come to this? The answer, of course, is not easy to discern. These things never are. And yet, in this case, there may actually be a clue to what, finally, went wrong.

The long-awaited World Series win for the Chicago Cubs happened in 2016, breaking a 76-year pennant drought and a 108-year World Series drought. It is the longest such drought in professional sports. A short list of things that have happened in that time: two World Wars, modern sewage treatment techniques, the widespread adoption of the automobile. In short, it has been a while. The long drought, according to Chicago legend, can be attributed to the “billy goat curse,” when one William Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley Field during game four of the 1945 World Series due to the odor of his pet goat. According to legend, William Sianis levied a curse upon the team and its fans that they may never win another World Series.

And for 71 years, the curse held true. Until 2016.

Curses, as we all know, only strengthen over time if not properly dealt with, like a stubborn weed patch in the garden. This curse has only become stronger over the years, making it more and more difficult to dislodge. It would require something extraordinary—possibly several things—to overturn it.

And while I cannot say for certain that the Cubs invoked some sort of blood ceremony of the dark arts in order to secure a Cubs victory, I can say that, if one would sit down and do the math, the numbers add up: Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Janet Reno, Alan Rickman, and, perhaps the most powerful and darkest Faustian agreement, a Donald Trump presidency. Added together, they could conceivably be strong enough to break a curse that had been building steadily in power for 71 years now. Numbers don’t lie. While all of the evidence is circumstantial at this point, it’s something worth looking into.

There is nothing we can do, of course, to bring back those we have lost. Yet there may be ways to resist the ascendance of President Trump, a candidate that has made campaign promises to restrict the rights of ethnic minorities, utilize torture techniques, restrict the freedom of the press, and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to a recent article, the destruction of Donald Trump’s walk of fame star in October, in which a man smashed the star with a sledgehammer in the wee hours of the morning, has effectively rid the world of one of the seven Horcruxes it would take to vanquish the president-elect. According to the piece, “Stabbing a copy of The Art of the Deal with a basilisk’s tooth is the next step to eliminating Donald Trump.”

There are others, of course (HINT: the hairpiece is probably one of them, but with his Secret Service detail it will be difficult to get close). Trump Tower may perhaps be another.

So take heart; there is still hope. We can resist this thing if we band together and act now.

In the meantime, I recommend a squeeze of lemon to accompany the tears shed in 2016. It goes quite nicely with a warm cup of Earl Grey tea.