Last night I dreamed of Marisleysis. She, Uncle Lazaro and the two grandmothers were on that island watching Richard Hatch take his clothes off. Regis dropped by to perform the wedding ceremony for Darva Conger and Vladimir Putin (I must say, they made a stunning couple). Then we all went down to the N.R.A.-theme restaurant on Broadway, where everyone gave Charlton Heston a cold, dead hand. Suddenly Barbra Streisand got up onstage and yelled, "Do you know what it is to have to walk around in high heels and sing 35 songs a night, to have to diet and get into those dresses?" Do I ever!
There was other news, you know. And in case you're thinking that nothing this year could have been of greater significance than The Election, you may be interested to learn that in the year of the now famous Hayes-Tilden mess--of which no one took note until two months ago--Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, Brahms finished composing Symphony No. 1 (op. 68), Renoir painted Le Moulin de la Galette. And Hilarion Daza was made President of Bolivia. And a juvenile reformatory was founded in Elmira, N.Y.
So there. So there were lots of noteworthy extra-electoral events this year. So if I were trying to divine the real meaning of 2000, I'd turn to the Today show, where, on the same morning that James Baker appears, trying his level best to look like a principled human being, a Latvian chef will also teach us how to stuff a banana with rabbit, and someone will announce that in the next half-hour we'll talk about a new cure for Parkinson's disease..."plus, live from the plaza--Jewel!" That's history for you. That's Bruegel's Icarus, as Auden pointed out in his poem on the painting; sensational events mingle with the run-of-the-mill till you cannot discern the amazing from the amazing.
You, for example, may choose as an amazement of the year the moment when George Pataki, deriding a reference by Hillary Clinton to E.B. White, said, "I don't know who that guy was, I don't know what he wrote...but it sure doesn't sound to me like that guy was a New Yorker." Mr. Pataki, a Yale graduate, is Governor of New York.
I, for example, might pick the response of radio's Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who, when asked about her statement that gays and lesbians represent "a biological error," said, "We have vaginas and penises." I could not agree more.
Looking for amazing? Indiana's Bobby Knight was fired after 29 years of behaving toward his players like Stalin in a bad mood. Bobby's loyalists pleaded for Indiana to give him one more chance, so that he could actually kill someone. Believe it or not: vast numbers of citizens are reading a new translation of Beowulf; Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Woody Allen were not in the news every day; the homeless were not in the news, either, giving rise to speculation that they must have disappeared. Also, Clarence Thomas is a Supreme Court Justice!
Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche broke up this year. But the two Koreas are getting together. That's pretty amazing. So are the hot new mechanical toys that are supplanting living things. There's The Sims computer game that allows you to create a digital dysfunctional family in case you're dissatisfied with your own. There's Sony's "entertainment robot," AIBO, which looks like the first draft of a dog and exhibits "free will." I myself am inventing an unemotional roller coaster.