As a metaphor for our times, you could do worse than the story of Gimadiah Scrogum. In 2015, the Branson (Mo.) Tri-Lakes News reported, Scrogum was pulled over for driving a white Ford pickup without the headlights on. When the cop approached, Scrogum floored it. According to the police report,
…Scrogum drove at approximately 50 miles per hour down Knox Avenue, where the speed limit is 20, and drove through three stop signs. At the intersection of Knox and BB Highway, the report states the officer saw the pickup go through another stop sign as it turned left on to BB. When the officer reached BB Highway, he could no longer see the pickup, according to the report. The officer turned left onto BB, and as he was driving, he looked to his right and saw that the pickup had gone off the road and down a steep embankment where it had struck a tree and flipped onto its right side. When the officer and a deputy made it down to the pickup, there was no one inside, according to the report.
That’s us, America, driving 50 in a 20, through three stop signs, down an embankment, into a tree, lying on our right, gone. Oh, and Scrogum allegedly stole the white Ford. From his boss. Who had fired him. But there’s a redemptive angle to this pathetic tale. Not about Scrogum the man; it looks like he’s doing eight years. About Scrogum the name. Gimadiah Scrogum is the No. 3 seed in the Chrotchtangle Regional of the 2020 Name of the Year Tournament.
We don’t have to tell you what a shitty year it’s been since the last shitty year in this shitty quadrennium. You, the people, inexplicably elected Pope Thrower as the 2019 Name of the Year. (For the record, the NOTY High Committee chose Jizyah Shorts.) Since then, Trump did not stop being president and tens of thousands of Americans are dead in a pandemic. A microburst blew through our D.C. neighborhood the other day, uprooting 100-year-old elms, toppling chimneys and flattening cars. It’s end times, everyone. Down the embankment of history we go.
The world supplies two kinds of news now. The collapse of society: failed government, desperate hospitals, desolate cities, mass graves. And things to make us feel better about it: 7:00 clapouts, Yo-Yo Ma, John Krasinski storytime. Here at Name of the Year, we like to think we’re in the latter group, delivering to your door—in surgical gloves and an N95 mask, knocking twice and backing the fuck away—a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.
The No. 1 seeds are the stuff of legend. In the Bulltron Regional, Kansas carjacker Mathdaniel Squirrel. In the Dragonwagon, felonious Burlington mayoral hopeful Infinite Culcleasure. In the Sithole, Leeds Green Party candidate Bluebell Eikonoklastes. And, in the Chrotchtangle, Brooklyn children’s librarian Beanbag Amerika. Even if we weren’t ruled by a moldy hunk of limburger, ravaged by a killer virus, staring at a depression and locked in our homes crying to smile—even, that is, if we didn’t think there are odds to be taken that this NOTY will be the planet’s last—we’d think this ballot an excellent one.
We’ll save some backstories for the days to come. For now, a quarantini to lift the spirits, an evening serenade from the balcony of our soul: Dhanmite Slappey, Perfecto Cuervo, Robespierre Bolivar, Billyjack Buzzard,Decoldest Crawford, Courvoisier Dingle, Vanilla Beane. We could just read you the names aloud and our hearts would be full. We wouldn’t even ask you to vote. Though goddamn right you’re gonna vote. And you won’t have to have to risk your health on a Milwaukee sidewalk to do it.
Vote on Twitter @NOTYtourney. There is no time to waste.