Ethan turned 14 last Friday. As we were celebrating his birthday it occurred to me that his arrival is about all that I remember of the year 1997. I scratched my head, but all I could recall was that the comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997--that plus the accompanying cult mass-suicide. And I'm sure that the only reason I remember the comet is because of something personal--in this case, work-related. I had to attend an Easter sunrise service at 6:00 AM that year, and the comet in the eastern sky was breathtaking.
Was 1997 really such a forgettable year? Or do memories of my petite wife's swelling belly crowd out all other memories? I've looked up 1997 on Wikipedia and it turns out that yes indeed, it was the year that nothing happened.
True, there was a plane crash, but there always is. Gianni Versace was gunned down, but somebody always gets murdered. Bill Clinton attended his second inaugural, but someone always gets inaugurated every four years.
Ah! How could I have forgotten? That was the year that Princess Diana died! (I'm scanning the Wikipedia article while I write this post). I know. That was 26 days after Ethan was born. I must have been sleep-deprived.
We need another year like 1997. 2011 is barely half-over, and look at the toll it's taken:
- Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan.
- U.S. credit rating downgraded.
- Eurozone on the edge of collapse.
- No jobs, no jobs, no jobs.
- Partisan paralysis in Washington.
- Tornadoes destroy Joplin, Missouri, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and plenty of other places.
- War in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Iraq.
- Mass shooting of teenagers in Norway.
On the other hand, if the Arab Spring and the death of Bin Laden put Arab despotism and militant Islam to bed, perhaps 2011 will look better in retrospect than close up.
Nevertheless, 1997 can not possibly be "the year that nothing happened." Why, that's the year we procreated! The advent of our firstborn! A year of magic and portent!