Verner column: My crystal ball has some cracks
One of my favorite parts of the New Year — besides the collards and black-eyed peas — is reading psychics’ predictions about the extraordinary events that will transpire over the next 12 months. You know, the bold predictions that generate tabloid headlines like “Ghost of Elvis to play pivotal role in Romney administration” or “Obama shocker: Birth certificate will prove authentic, but golf handicap is totally bogus.”
This year, I was especially interested in the predictions of “Nikki, psychic to the stars” (www.psychicnikki.com). Nikki is my kind of Nostradamus. While some psychics tend to hide behind tepid generalizations, Nikki’s crystal ball is clear and specific, if nothing else. For instance, whereas less acute prognosticators might simply foresee “upheaval in the White House,” Nikki’s prediction lays it on the line: “Sex scandal in the Obama administration.”
I also thought this one showed some originality: “The Holy Grail will be found.” (On eBay, no doubt.)
And this one, too: “George Clooney has to watch for danger.” (Must be driving through Salisbury.)
But this one seemed a bit lame: “New York and Boston buried in snow.” (That’s not a prediction. It’s just winter.)
I’m not in the prediction business. Most of us can’t even agree on what happened in the past, including events we personally witnessed. Even if someone could snatch glimpses of the future, I doubt their import would be obvious without the full context of those future times. Besides, as an editorial writer, I already have ample opportunity for public humiliation and ridicule without raising the ante. But in cleaning out last year’s dusty databases, I came across three predictions that I jotted down early in 2011.
Against my better judgment, I’ll share them with you now:
• In 2011, local officials will break ground on a new school central office. I’ll pause here for the laughter to subside. Whatever came over me, I’ll never know. Maybe I succumbed to the irrational exuberance of a new year and a few too many sips of champagne. Or perhaps I lingered too long over the collard pot. Whatever the inspiration, this prediction was about as accurate as a gubernatorial campaign spending report. By my count, the school office selection process has now encompassed at least four presidential administrations, 10 school boards, three of John Edwards’ hairstyles and all of Newt Gingrich’s marriages. How much longer will this go on? There’s no predicting. We should just be thankful the ancient Egyptians didn’t settle in Rowan County. Otherwise, we’d still be arguing over whether the great pyramid should be erected in Salisbury, Bear Poplar or China Grove.
My next prediction was about as naive:
• In 2011, the Alcoa relicensing standoff will be resolved. I also made this prediction in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Not only did the standoff continue, but diplomatic relations broke off, and an all-out public-relations war broke out. By some lights, Alcoa suddenly morphed into the corporate incarnation of Darth Vader, while poor Stanly County officials were alternately depicted as property-grabbing socialists or delusional Midases besotted by visions of public revenue gold perpetually flowing from Alcoa’s hydroelectric turbines. Yet, having spent time over the years with white-flag waving emissaries from both sides, I find them by and large to be reasonable, pleasant people. Maybe it’s time for President Obama to convene a “beer summit” to settle the Alcoa dams dispute.
Nah. It’ll take more than a couple of Heinekens to break this Yadkin River logjam.
And finally, my third prediction:
• In 2011, “Smokeout” will return to Salisbury. This was a real longshot, but I keep hoping the annual biker fest will come rumbling back. I never personally participated in Smokeout, but during the weekend it was here, I always enjoyed seeing all the flashy motorcycles, the interesting tattoos and the latest in lady biker fashions. Rumor has it that things sometimes got out of hand, with raucous carousing, drinking and general rowdiness. Sometimes brawls broke out, but the participants also threw around lots of money during their sojourn here. In other words, it was like playing host to the Democratic National Convention every year. Smokeout’s return is about as likely as Happs Grill adding a veggie burger to the menu, but I’ll keep holding out hope.
As for predictions about the coming year, I suppose I could simply recycle the same three. Instead, I’m going for events that have a greater likelihood of actually coming to pass.
In 2012, pigs will fly, wars will cease and Kim Kardashian will find everlasting love.
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Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.