2016 Responds to Its Hate Mail

You can’t just blame me for everything that went wrong.

Image: Alan O’Rourke

Dear Everyone on Earth:

Hi, it’s me, 2016 — or more precisely, what’s left of me after you all chewed me up and spat me out. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be out of your hair very shortly (believe me, I have zero desire to stick around). I just felt the need to vent about a few things on my way out.

I’ve become aware of a lot of the truly nasty things certain people have been saying about me. I won’t name names, because it’s pretty much everyone on the planet at this point. And I’ve got to say, I think you are being just a tad shortsighted and unfair here, to say the least.

So much has changed over the course of me; you didn’t always despise me. When I first started, you were all so excited to ring me in. I had so much promise; I was the clean slate you all needed to feel some sense of renewed optimism about your miserable lives. You celebrated me on your Facebook feeds, saying stuff like “Welcome, 2016! We can’t wait to start anew!” and “2016 is going to be our #Best Year Ever!” Some of you even had some harsh words to say about my predecessor, 2015, who happens to be a respected friend and colleague. “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, 2015!” some of you said. “Hurry up and get here, 2016!” Now, I’m not stupid. I saw what happened to 2014 and 2013, both of which, incidentally, a good chunk of you had also touted as the possible “#Best Year[s] Ever.” That never happened, though, did it? When 2013 and 2014 failed to utterly transform your sorry little lives for the better, you tossed them on the trash heap like all the years before them.

So, yeah, I wasn’t exactly born yesterday (I’m 2016, for chrissakes, you know exactly when I was born). But I’m not immune to flattery, either, and I must admit, I thought it was cool that everyone was welcoming me with such open arms. It seemed like an exciting way to get started.

I don’t know what I was smoking, but I wish I had more of it now.
Within a month, it seems, about half of you had already abandoned me, primarily because some famous people had died. I get it, it sucks: often, when you humans think about the passage of time and your collective march toward inevitable doom, celebrities are a merciful distraction. They’re like a little piece of immortality; they give you the illusion of timelessness.
Well, here’s a newsflash for you — I’m a year. I’m a freaking unit of time. Time-related things are gonna happen during me. People are going to get older, seasons are going to pass, biological clocks are going to tick, relationships are going to run their course, pet parakeets are going to die. People are going to die, even some who are famous.

And you might not know this, but I have absolutely no say in the matter. I wouldn’t have thought I’d have to explain this to you, but I don’t exactly exist in a vacuum. A year is made up of a whole sequence of smaller, interconnected units of time: months, weeks, days, hours, minutes. Stop me if I’m over-explaining, but you guys really don’t seem to get this concept.

I don’t hear anyone blaming Sunday, which happened to be the day of the week that took out David Bowie, Nancy Reagan, Gene Wilder, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and George Michael. Or how about December, that a-hole of a month that just couldn’t possibly let me peace out of this shit circus without killing John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Princess Leia, and her poor mom?

And don’t even get me started on November — the month which, in addition to robbing the world of Janet Reno, Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill and Mrs. Brady, was also the month you Americans opted to vote an orange fascist into the White House. I’ll politely remind you that as a year, I don’t get to have a vote — I don’t even get to choose whether I’m an election year or not . So you can all cut it out with that noise right now; that one is 100% on you.

I mean, come on: do you think I wanted to be a year when I grew up? Hell, no — no one in their right mind would ask for this thankless job. In fact, you humans literally made me up. I wouldn’t even exist if Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII hadn’t insisted on creating the Julian and Gregorian Calendars. I am a man-made construct, the brainchild of a pizza chain mascot and a freak in a funny hat.

Speaking of Popes and religion, I can’t help but notice that you folks are still pretty big into thanking God and feeling #Blessed and celebrating little Baby Jesus’ birthday, all while you’re gleefully kicking my ass to the curb. Nice. You don’t think your cute little baby Jesus (or at least his dad) maybe has a little more say in the celebrity death department than me, a measly little year out of billions? If, according to your logic, God made you and you made me, how am I the murderer? The glove most assuredly does not fit.

Whatever, though. I stopped trying to understand you humans at least seven months ago. All I want now is another few uneventful days and then sweet, sweet oblivion. I hope 2017 fulfills all of your wildest dreams — it had damned well better, if it wants to stay on decent terms with you divas. I will tell you this: if and when it inevitably disappoints you, don’t even think about crying to me. I’m am soooo out of here.

Love and Kisses,


Jennifer Byrne has contributed to The New Yorker Daily Shouts and Murmurs, McSweeney’s.net, The Rumpus Funny Women, and other online publications.