Writing Switch: How can 2020 get any worse? | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: How can 2020 get any worse?

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith

Imagine a world where there is no tomorrow. Or no yesterday. No future or past, only now. All there is is today everyday. That sounds super scary, doesn’t it? Well guess what, baby, it’s not the chorus to the worst song ever — we’re living it.

What’s next, Yellowstone erupts? Donald Trump’s wig falls off and there’s a big 666 carved in the back of his head? The four horsemen show up? We don’t want to get carried away with speculation and somehow it miraculously occurs. Just remember at one point we were like OMG CAN YOU IMAGINE QWARANTEIN all sarcastic. This whole thing feels like we’re writing to Tom Marvolo Riddle.


SB: The government earlier this year kind of yada yada yada’d that there have been UFO sightings but it was lost in Tenacious Donald’s endless stream of xenophobic comments, policy, etc. So an alien invasion is not out of the realm of feasibility for 2020.

The main concern is what kind of aliens would they be? Obviously the “Independence Day” aliens would not be ideal. I could hang out with some of the “Men In Black” aliens. Maybe not the Mexican(?) roach things. Not because of their Latin influence but more because they’re gross bug things.

It would be cool if a foreign planet sent a rover-type vehicle. It would give us an opportunity to communicate with them but also allow us to fortify our defenses in case they’re trying to take over planer Earth. What I don’t want is for us to discover “aliens” but in reality they’re just like a couple amoebas. It’s some ribosomes and nuclei and that’s it. Like when you click on one of those articles that says “New species discovered” and it’s a new variety of a gnat.

Also, is it still policy that whoever discovers something gets to name it? Because if I happen across aliens, I’m naming them all Ben, so if they are hostile, the name Ben becomes synonymous with the enemy. People regularly yelling, “DIE BEN!” or saying things like “Don’t sleep with the Benemy” would be delightful.

And if they’re cool, it’s just a few trillion new people named Ben, which really waters down the possibility of Ben making a name for himself.


BW: Jesus messed around with the water a couple times in the Bible, turning it into blood one time and wine in another instance (many chapters apart). Well, just as both of those events can be explained by the eruption of a volcano, so too can it be that water plus fluoride plus lithium equals an addictive, creamy substance suddenly glopping out of our pipes — and we can’t get enough of it.

Addictions, like many other things, are powerful. I love ranch to the point where it’s a personality trait. Once I even got busted trying to steal a “Hidden Valley Road” street sign because I thought it would look hilarious next to my neighborhood watch sign. But when the bottles are stacking up like College Jenga in your recyclables pile because you’re out of 20 cent paper bags and you haven’t been to the grocery in eight days and you’re eating the MREs out of your bearproof cannister, you know maybe you have a problem.

But then again here I am, going down the salad dressing aisle randomly looking for something else unrelated, when I spotted it — and on the top shelf even, which is basically an omen from God because I can barely see that high: Kranch.

Ugh, it’s not on sale — I only reserve those kind of expenditures for White Castles. But, now that you mention it, dunking White Castles in Kranch sounds delicious. I’ve spent way, way more than $3.69 on things much, much stupider than Kranch. Plus it also has “a special blend of spices” in addition to the ketchup and ranch, which is why you can’t just buy a bottle of each and swirl your nuggets around.

If I were on the Green Mile, my last meal would be a jumbo bag of Tyson chicken strips (ovened, not microwaved), and an industrial ice cream-sized tub of Kranch. Plus a couple squirts of Cholula.

I don’t even know why I would be on death row; I’m old enough that it’ll be found unconstitutional by the time my appeals go through.

But anyway I heard you can get whatever you want for your last meal, so that’s what I would pick, since we’re on the subject.


SB: I feel like we’re running out of bad things to happen. Between the pandemic, a wildfire and recession, all you need is Godzilla to hit for the natural disaster cycle. This year is too weird for a normal, Hollywood monster. Instead of Godzilla, we’ll get like a 22-story crane.

With the Earth finally hot enough due to climate change, the ancient eggs will hatch. It’ll probably kill off like lobster or something else universally loved. All outside activities will become gambles, hoping you don’t get picked off like a bald eagle snagging a toy poodle.

“Did you hear about Mark?”

“No, what happened? COVID?”

“No, not COVID. You know that monster crane thing? Scooped him up off Rio Grande like a ground squirrel.”

Nobody can hike Highland Bowl or float North Star because the big ass crane turned the Bowl into his aerie and North Star into his mating grounds. It’s not so much the plague as it is just a really annoying inconvenience. Massive feathers break down and clog your car exhaust.

Donald Trump makes it his Moby Dick, reallocating virus relief money to build a blimp or something inefficient to track and hunt the great bird.

“The DEMS want to save the CHINA crane. My MEGA MAGA airship will kill the CHINA crane faster than any other airship in the history. #KILLTHECRANE”


BW: Ever wonder what those cicadas have been doing underground for the past 16 years? Searching for corpses, probably.

There are two different kinds of zombies: A) undead rising up, and B) infection spreads and takes over people. At this point in the world’s current trajectory, the smart money is on scenario B.

As a species, a people, I think we could get through scenario A, assuming literally not every dead person ever just popped up out of the ground. I can’t even stand to watch bodycam footage of cops executing people on their doorstep, how am I going to handle zombie Hercules or zombie Grendal running around and tearing my neighborhood apart?

People love to think “Oh I’m a badass, I would totally survive the zombie apocolypse.” No, you wouldn’t. You’re scared of spiders. Five cans of Beefaroni and two bags of ramen aren’t enough. Walmart steak knives aren’t weapons. The water has turned to ranch dressing.

And would you even want to be some random renegade warrior in a post-zombie-ravaged world? I’d give up pretty quickly. Once I see my first live zombie I’m like “ehh all right, come and take me. Maybe at least ya’ll got some good food.”

If we treated coronavirus like zombies, it would’ve been a different thing. When the first case pops up — of zombies — no matter where in the world, there’s no “well dang, sucks for them.” It’s “OMG THERE ARE ZOMBIES.”

“Most victims won’t even turn into zombies.” Whatever, I still don’t want to take that chance. I don’t even want the sniffles. I don’t want a cavity. I don’t want ringworm. I sure as hell don’t want to maybe but probably not turn into a zombie.

sbeckwith@aspentimes.com bwelch@aspentimes.com