Here’s What Will Happen Next

Here’s What Will Happen Next
Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP, Getty Images

The president of the United States has a deadly, airborne disease that has already killed more than 207,000 Americans and more than 1 million people worldwide. The U.S. now faces a national security crisis, the economy is in ruins, and we’re a month away from a contentious presidential election on which the very future of American democracy depends.

In this context, in a year of unfathomable horrors, Donald Trump contracting covid-19 is the thing that has people finally admitting that nobody has a fucking clue what will happen next. As far as politics is concerned, that is absolutely true — nobody knows because nothing like this has ever happened before.

Of course, “nothing like this has ever happened before” is something many of us have been saying for the past four years. The shock of obliterated norms, disregard for laws, percolating social unrest, and an ongoing global pandemic has induced a collective nausea that makes it hard to even think a whole thought, let alone feel happy and content.

Then came Trump’s covid-19 diagnosis. When we learned that the man responsible for much of this all-consuming upheaval contracted the very virus he called a “hoax” as Americans died, it cracked our mental paralysis.

It gave many people disgusted by Trump a jolt of schadenfreude — a dark, twinkling reassurance that karmic justice exists, even if it might somehow make everything spectacularly worse.

To be clear, I am not happy Trump has the virus, though I get that many people are. Do I hope that it might make it less likely he will be president for another four years? Yes, he’s an authoritarian tyrant and the world’s biggest shitbag. Do I think he had it coming? Yes — I’m amazed it took this long, given his aversion to science. But I don’t want anyone anywhere to suffer from illness. Really, I just want to never think of him again.

Regardless of how you feel about Trump, the president’s covid-19 diagnosis only adds to the uncertainty in a time defined by rapid-reveal impermanence. But some things will not change. In an attempt to find some solace amid a year defined by distress, I tried to think of a few things that we can all be sure will still be true tomorrow. Let’s see here…

  • A week will be seven days long, according to the Gregorian calendar

  • A dog will still be cute, also according to the Gregorian calendar

  • The sky will be blue, and pedants will remind us about refraction

  • Earth will continue to warm, bringing us closer to extinction

  • Chocolate will remain delicious to many people but still be deadly to dogs, proving the amorality of the universe

  • Light will travel at 1,079,252,848 km/h in a vacuum, a square will have four sides, calculus will still be hard

  • Jeff Bezos will be richer than me

  • Washington state will still have a county called Skamania, and its annual fair will continue not to feature any ska bands to my knowledge

  • Mathematical proofs will remain immutably true; manner will never be created or destroyed

  • My wife will still have never seen The Matrix

  • I will still have never seen Parenthood

  • Caring for someone else will always be worthwhile

  • The only social constant will be disagreement

  • The dress will be white and gold

That was harder than I expected. Also, I doubt most of these things will make anyone feel less anxious about the future. Maths? If that’s where we’re at in terms of reassurances, then we really are doomed.