Since last I joined you people, the Cubs won the World Series and we got a new President-elect. 

The Cubbies were the team of my childhood. Baseball never again means as much as it does between the age of 7 and the awareness of girls, so I was the perfect age to be absolutely devastated in 1984, but we persevered together, the Cubs and I, until 1989 or so. They got there this year, which was nice. I’m not going to claim longtime hardcore fandom — I’d trade the pennant for a Super Bowl win, for one thing — but I was pleased for the people who wouldn’t make that trade, and who would in fact have traded a kidney for the World Series win. 

About the election the less said the better because we have social media now, and you never know what you might say that could be interpreted by the Red Team or the Blue Team in a way that causes an offhand joke to go viral, making you a feature of the news cycle and a target of rabid activists. I have no comment on the winner, the loser, or the methodology. I held up my part in the election; the rest is out of my control. 

The intensity of feeling around both things, though, and the whole rest of 2016, have left me with an interesting realization:

Let us say it is a crisp autumn day on Madison Street. Sunny but cool; light-jacket weather; people are strolling. Not lounging outside with coffee or cake — it’s too cold for that — but ambling along agreeably, maybe a few errands on foot, maybe walking the dog. If you were to go up to one of those people on the street, someone you did not know and who did not know you, and you were to say to them this:

“This isn’t real. None of it. Think about it. You can tell, can’t you? None of this is real.”

You could not be dismissed as a crackpot. How amazing is that? You could walk around with a sandwich board that says “THE END IS NIGH,” like a cartoon crazy, and people would take you seriously. I posit you would even get many thoughtful nods. The people you address would mull what you’ve said, and possibly think of you from time to time, as the next chapters unfold. 

None of this is real.

It’s eerily plausible, isn’t it? I’ve posed this notion to a half-dozen reasonably sober citizens — as reasonable and sober as my friends ever get, anyway — and the results have been kinda unsettling. No one dismisses my notions as absurd (I’m used to that). They don’t sign on outright, I mean, and there is some disagreement between the competing ideas of the simulation’s code decaying vs. the idea that one of us is in a coma somewhere and this has all been a dream — but no one yet has responded with a dismissive “Pfft” and changed the subject. I mean, the Cubs won the World Series in the same year that the nation breathlessly watched an armed militia take over a wildlife museum, Britain vote to repeal two decades, and the two people vying to lead the free world bicker on Twitter like seventh-graders. 

Run the program here: Look over the last 11 months. Start roughly with the death of David Bowie — which, full disclosure, I thought was overblown at the time — and just watch the events of the year unfold. 2016 starts rough and gets weirder and weirder and weirder. The last month, it’s gotten weird enough to tip us over. The Cubs won the World Series. The election result was a great shock to everyone. Nothing is predictable. Every outcome is plausible. 

None of this is real.

You can tell, can’t you?

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