The real thing


have a good friend who is an artist (professional) and comedian (decidedly amateur) who creates his own holiday cards.

This year, my card said on the cover: "Have a happy century."

On the inside, it said, "It probably will be your last."

Besides revealing my pal's delightful, sick sense of humor, the card acknowledged what we knew despite last year's hoopla: The second millennium could not end until the 2,000th year ended because the counting began at year 1, not year 0.

When influential men, mostly churchmen, decided to number years from the presumed date of Christ's birth, they had no concept of the zero.

(Taking trivia to new heights, here is more: The zero was born in India by the sixth century but did not get to Europe until the 12th century.)

Moving along to a little modern folly, let me ask:

Has the real millennial turnover felt better than last year's trial run? There are reasons to think so. In no particular order, I offer these:

  • There was no threat of a computer meltdown this time. You did not have to worry that your business would come to a screeching halt or that your clients would be falling from the sky when airplane computers failed. (But, does this aura of good feeling hold for clients leaving from LaGuardia?)
  • Of course, our Y2K fears had no special link to the new millennium; we would have had the same worries if we had been passing from any year ending in 99 to any year ending in 00.

  • All those seven-night world's-most-wonderful-ever New Year's blowouts priced at a bargain $9,999 per person were 1999's headaches.
  • Wasn't it nice to deal with more or less normal price hikes and sold-out situations over these holidays?

  • Without the distractions of the above issues, you had more time to make New Year's resolutions.
  • Aren't you glad you promised yourself to lose an extra 10 pounds? Or that you're newly committed to selling zero-money-losing products? (Clearly, you understand the meaning of zero.)

  • Finally, henceforth, when someone refers to the "last century," you will know for sure the speaker means the 20th century because, from now on, everyone will agree we are in the 21st.
  • There is one other thing, though. In our lifetime, the words "turn of the century" referred to the turnover to the 20th, although there were many century "turns" before that. Now, when someone refers to the turn of the century, context will have to tell you which turn.

    It's a communications issue. I worry about such things.

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