December 2016

Line in the Sand: So What Was So Great About 2016 Anyway?

Author: Barry Kaufman & Courtney Hampson | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Opinion 1: Barry Kaufman

If there is one thing I can say was great about 2016, it would be the emergence of our benevolent mosquito overlords. As I write this, they have already taken over most of Bluffton and Hilton Head, and have begun their incursion into the mainland as they spread their territory like the righteous conquerors they are.

I say this, of course, because the mosquitos have my family, and I’ve agreed to work for them in exchange for their freedom. All hail the mosquitos, with their mighty wings and unslakable thirst for our blood. May we forever give them the nourishment they need to continue their merciful conquest.

But if my kind and just insect masters would indulge me, there were plenty of great things worth mentioning that came before their reign brought 2016 to a close.

In January, we finally saw Iran shut down its nuclear weapons program, allowing an end to sanctions against the only Middle Eastern country to be name-dropped by A Flock of Seagulls. It also paved the way for Iran to begin promoting itself as a tourism hotspot with a straight face. After much deliberation, their tourism board chose “You probably won’t get kidnapped” as a slogan after “What’s the worst that could happen?” turned out to be trademarked.

February saw the healing of old wounds between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches, with the signing of a historical Ecumenical Declaration between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, who Google assures me is the head of the Russian Orthodox church and not, in fact, a Star Wars character.

As the Halloween-to-Valentine’s-Day candy season gave way cruelly to bathing suit season, we entered a spring and summer that decidedly were not the best, I’ll grant you. If any good came out of it, this past summer did see the historic breakup between The United Kingdom and the European Union, two entities who had been the greatest of frenemies (frenementities?) since awkwardly hooking up in 1973.

This historic British dissolution of political ties with Europe, or Brissolution as it was called, was a major victory for the UKIP party, whose policies were brilliantly laid out on a bar coaster I got while I was over there last spring. These policies include, and I promise this is real: scrapping income tax on the minimum wage, expanding the National Health Service, establishing points-based immigration and “standing up for our pubs.”

That led, of course, to the 2016 Rio Olympics, in which Michael Phelps finally left the surface world to spend more time with his family in Atlantis, and Ryan Lochte gave us as a nation our first reason to never talk to Billy Bush. Despite the usual slate of gold medals for the U.S. and several other countries who I’m sure attended, the real winners here were our mosquito overlords. I’d go into greater detail, but I’ve drafted like six Zika jokes and the mosquitos hated all of them, and I’m down to my last few pints of blood at this point.

Which brings us to fall, when we as Americans chose who would lead us, or at least chose who we found the least repulsive. As I write this, the election is just days away so I’m not really sure who won. But I’m sure whoever it is will soon fall before the mighty power of our new mosquito God-kings.

Praise and thanks be unto the mosquitos. Thank you for 2016, and may we live to see how great 2017 turns out under their majestic reign.

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Opinion 2: Courtney Hampson

I am sitting at the kitchen counter, typing, staring at nine bottles of wine, and wondering if the 50 pounds of turkey in the garage will defrost in time. This can, of course, mean only one thing: I have, once again, waited until the last minute to write my column. Thanksgiving is in two days, I just completed the first of what I assume will be many trips to Publix, and I am reading Barry’s column, which my editor often sends me to remind me each month that I write a column and, “Oh hey, we go to print this week, and um, just need it by Tuesday night so my staff can have Thanksgiving off….”

Got it. Don’t ruin the holiday for the staff at C2. No pressure.

In his monthly musing, Barry mentions that he submitted his column before Election Day, so he doesn’t even know who the president-elect is. He submitted his December column before most people even read the November issue. What a show off.

Anyway, the whole purpose of our December duel is to tackle the topic of the best things that happened in 2016. As we now know, I have successfully procrastinated every month this year, which I actually consider a victory. It means I have finally loosened up a bit, and I am not as rigid in my planning or my thinking. You may find this weird, but I was wound pretty tightly for a long time. Today, I appreciate a little spontaneity.

I spent time in Telluride, Dallas, Little St Simons, Mexico, and Grand Cayman, and at year-end will have used almost all of my paid time off. I skied for the first time since high school. I snorkeled for the first time ever. And I was almost convinced to scuba dive, but that damn Dateline special about the guy who killed his wife haunts me; maybe next year.

Garth Brooks toured in 2016, and I schlepped to Charleston with a 101 fever and a raging sinus and ear infection to see him. That man sang for three hours straight, and it was amazing! I also caught Hootie and the Blowfish on stage in 2016. Turns out I only know one Hootie song. Boston played the Johnny Mercer Theater.

Turns out, they are so old they played the same song twice (in the same set). Elton John wowed a sold-out crowd at the Savannah Civic Center. Turns out, I know every Elton song. Last Saturday night, I had the pleasure of introducing Blues Traveler for a private concert at Palmetto Bluff. John Popper may look older, but his harmonica chops and voice are still on point. Not a bad year, musically.

I ran another half marathon, a few 10Ks, and a bunch of 5Ks—two with my niece Erin, which were my favorites. When she asked for a pair of running tights, with pockets, “like yours Nortney,” for Christmas, my heart swelled. Admittedly, I slacked a tad at the gym, as my knees and every other body part are announcing my age daily. But I added yoga to the mix and found a way to actually turn my brain off for an hour at a time.
I recorded my first podcast as a guest on Conviction Radio with hosts Craig Hysell and Jake Walsh, and shortly thereafter became addicted to their podcasts, replacing a 20-year Howard Stern obsession.

Our town was reminded of the meaning of community as we ventured out the day after the hurricane. I will never forget returning home on Sunday morning, pulling into the driveway and then walking to the street where the other neighbors on our small cul-de-sac had gathered. Despite the downed trees and damaged homes, all I was thinking was, “This is home.”

As the holidays loom, we sit back and reflect upon what matters most, and what we are thankful for, and I believe it comes down to the people. My mentor (eons ago) used to say, “The world is about people.” The fact that I am still quoting him today tells me that he was right. None of my favorite moments of 2016 would even be moments if not for the people who shared them with me.

After I finish writing this, I’ll be making pseudo-Mad Libs for my Thanksgiving guests so we can all share what we are thankful for. As 2016 comes to a close, I encourage you to do the same:

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