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We guarantee this might happen

Trends for 2001 can't be any more weird than what has happened this past year. Or can they?

Some readers may recall the story last year in which we predicted George W. Bush would lose the popular vote but win the Electoral College, and the presidency, because of 537 votes cast in Florida. Those readers also remember past lives they spent cavorting with Cleopatra on a Nile River barge.

Obviously we made no such prediction, but wish that we had because we'd have put the Lottery out of business by now. Herewith 10 predictions _ no, make that guarantees _ for 2001. As election soothsayer Dan Rather said, "You can take that to the bank."

Restoration Software.

In a fit of tech nostalgia, yuppies send price of DOS 1.0 copies skyrocketing. Programming in BASIC becomes the coffee table book of the year. Interior decorators scour yard sales for Kaypro II's and Tandy 200s, which they use as design touches in finely appointed studies.

Now you see it. Now you don't.

New-wave feminists don veils, refusing to participate in the sexist male fashion conspiracy. The infamous Jennifer Lopez dress turns out to be the last gasp of a couture supernova. Wearing a muu-muu means never having to tape your nipples.

Indecision 2001.

Life on Capitol Hill grinds to a halt and the rest of the country follows suit. A contagion of ambivalence and pussy-footing sweeps the nation as Americans discover the hidden benefit of gridlock: never having to make a decision. Restaurants fail as diners can't bring themselves to order. Bold colors disappear in favor of grayish compromise. One hundred percent of people surveyed report feeling somewhat strongly.

Strap on the feed bag.

Protein-packed dieters send the nutritional pendulum swinging the other way as they develop a taste for silage. The bulk bins at Sam's Clubs give way to neighborhood silos where customers can load up on wet or dry varieties by the cubic meter. Silage devotees mock vegans as uncommitted.

Silence.

Taking a page from the anti-animal cruelty movement, noise opponents campaign to turn down the volume on life. Dressed as mimes, silence activists roam the country, mutely encircling loud cell phone users in "Cones of Quietude." They duct tape movie theater yappers, stuff sports announcers in gunny sacks and disable subway public address systems. They try but cannot stop Monica Lewinsky.

Lapp Rapp.

Reindeer herders from the far side of the Arctic Circle are fixin' to bust a move. The newest addition to the World Beat puts the jingle in retailers' registers. Rhyming in Finnish becomes a fad, with suburban teenagers wearing their animal pelts extra baggy and low on their hips.

A Bug's Life.

Looking to stand out in a crowd, Hollywood celebrities eschew Buddhism a la Spago in favor of Jainism. Millionaire ascetics wear surgical masks to the Oscars, beg alms from autograph seekers and sweep the red carpet with whisks of peacock feathers to avoid trampling ants and other paparazzi.

Prime time and punishment.

No longer content to let television judges and Texas governors have all the fun, the public clamors for a chance to mete out an-eye-for-an-eye-style punishment. Prison convicts have their sentences commuted in return for submitting _ without appeal _ to punishments selected by studio audiences.

Shameboys.

Handheld electronic games tank with the younger set, but tormented adults looking for psychoanalysis on the cheap retrofit Gameboys to recreate embarrassing/humiliating moments of personal history. Easily programable with real names and places, Shameboys offer the chance to rewrite history _ the messy break-up in the restaurant, the repossession of the sports car, the bedwetting incident at sleep-away camp _ but the game always ends with machine asking, "How'd that make you feel?"

These are my profits, which are shed for you.

Faced with a slumping economy and dwindling consumer interest in her time-intensive crafts, Martha Stewart attempts to jumpstart sales with a line of potpourri and bath salts made from her own hair and dead skin cells. Demand for Martha Stewart Leavings so far exceeds supply, however, that a bald and severely abraded Stewart extends her line into organs and other non-renewing body parts. By year's end, profits are restored, but Stewart has ceased to exist.

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