Future perfect

We’re all set. We’ve got an old Ouija board, a deck of well-incensed tarot cards, a set of dice that the Lizard of Fun swiped from a casino, and a shiny new Magic 8 Ball. It’s time to make predictions.

"Say," says the Lizard, shaking the Magic 8 Ball. "What if we predicted for the whole millennium, instead of just for this year?"

"No," says the Magic 8 Ball.

"No way," I add. "You, the king of instant gratification, would regret it. At this rate, I’m wondering if we should even predict the future as far as next month."

"Awww, come on," says the Lizard. "We’re already halfway to next month. Let’s get to it."

I smirk. "Well, if you hadn’t been too hung over to even roll out of bed until this week ..."

"It was the flu, I swear," the Lizard protests. "Now, about those predictions."

"OK," I say, hauling out the crystal ball. "Here we go. Freak Girl and the Lizard of Fun’s predictions for 2000."

January: Not to be outdone by the AOL/Time-Warner merger, Bill Gates announces a $200 billion takeover of the U.S. government. The new computer / legislative giant is known as Bill, Bill and Billions. "That’s the cost of doing business in today’s economy," says CEO Bill Clinton.

February: In an effort to stem the loss of productivity caused by an especially virulent flu season, corporate America sets up a national work-at-home policy. It eliminates sick days altogether, but allows workers to declare themselves federal disaster areas for up to nine days a year.

March: Controversy over 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez finally dies down – and Hollywood deals start picking up – when the boy proves himself to be a computer whiz in the making. After hacking into the new AOL/Time-Warner/Disney/Microsoft/U.S. government consolidated Web site, he posts a doctored picture of Fidel Castro saying, "Capitalism Rules!" Gonzalez is declared a national hero.

April: Census Day coincides with April Fool’s Day, a timing glitch that goes unnoticed until a vast population of centenarians, trained dogs with master’s degrees, and people named Lizard O. Fun turn up in Detroit’s demographic tallies. The Census Bureau issues a statement saying that the city’s population is more than 1 million, but that trained dogs cannot be counted toward the final tally, no matter how well-educated.

May: Tired of waiting for winter to finally kick in, Southern Michiganders shrug and put away their unused snow shovels and snow blowers, and get out the lawnmowers and garden spades. An Alberta Clipper shows up with 26 inches of snow and freezing rain, just in time for the very first Memorial Day ever to be declared a snow day.

June: The Lizard of Fun discovers it has an evil twin, the Lizard of Faux, who runs a successful painting business. The discovery is made when the Lizard of Fun fantasizes about hiring a contractor to paint lizardy scales on the Spirit of Detroit statue, but the contractor wants to give it a nice marbled look instead. A battle ensues between good and evil, and the Lizard of Faux is finished.

July: Realizing he’s going to be old one day, Bill Gates decides to retire and give up the world of cyberdomination. Unfortunately, his plans to stay home and paint watercolors are scotched by his new Microsoft Everywhere "smart" appliances. Gates is held hostage by his own refrigerator, microwave and bread machine, which demand, "You gave us brains, now give us legs!"

August: Citing fears of cyberterrorism, the world refuses to help Gates escape from his own appliances. He is last heard from on a streaming video from his Web site, in which he is seen furiously trying to flip a power switch "off."

September: The New York Stock Exchange buys the Times Square crystal New Year’s ball, which it plans to use for a countdown when the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches 20,000 early next month.

October: A stock market crash ensues. Pieces of crystal shards are found as far away as the New Jersey Turnpike. Witnesses say it looked just like a UFO landed, complete with little green creatures with tails and martini glasses. The Lizard declines comment.

November: In a tie vote that makes electoral history, both Bill Bradley and Donald Trump are elected president. After three recounts show the same numbers, they forge a coalition government called the Reformed Democrats, and declare themselves time-share presidents. The nation goes wild for a government that not only has vast riches, but wants to share its wealth with the people.

December: December 31, 2000 rolls around, and with it comes a global computer crash even worse than the Y2K bug was once feared to be. In the aftermath, experts will discover the problem: The world’s computers were programmed only to recognize the real millennium.

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