Column: My guiding word for 2021

Braden Hajer, Copy Editor & Columnist

What’s crackin’, Naperville? It’s been roughly a year since I unveiled my guiding word for 2020, “moist.” As I said about 365 days ago, I planned on “letting moist take the driver’s seat while I lie helplessly in the trunk.” I was optimistic that 2020 would be my wettest year ever. Before anything else, I think it’s important to reflect: did that happen?

Not quite. The pandemic was definitely a major towel in my life, and it prevented me from getting quite as juicy as I’d like. Nevertheless, I feel as though I got as moist as I reasonably could without violating Illinois’ safety guidelines. I hope you all did the same.

But that stream’s run dry, so what’s fresh as we spring into 2021? Well, this year’s word is almost like an addendum to 2020’s, a refined variation. The problem with “moist” is that it’s selfish. You moisten yourself, and as we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, that kind of attitude can lead to big problems in an increasingly-globalized world. No, what we need is some good ol’ fashioned Inflation.

Inflation is a giver’s noun. It allows us to think big thoughts and tackle big issues. Is your friend feeling a little down? Sit down with them and inflate them. Are your grades struggling in e-learning? Nothing like grade inflation to tidy those up in a jiffy. Is the economy tanking? You know J-Pow’s the Inflation King. With a few quick cranks of the money printer, he’ll get the money line to skyrocket higher than it’s ever been.

In 2021, I want to inflate myself, sure, but I’m sick of just looking inwards. I want to inflate everybody, whether they like it or not. People are like vacuum cleaners. Over time, they get filled with the dust of life: fights with loved ones, unfortunate random circumstances, blundering their queen on, etc. What they need is to be ripped open, emptied and inflated, and by golly, am I ready to do that. You should be too.

In the spirit of inflation, I feel I need to inflate my reputation with the international community. In the past, I’ve made some very problematic statements about the legitimacy of the state of Liechtenstein. I want to formally apologize to all 12 citizens of the world’s most-passable state that is definitely real, Liechtenstein. I love your… government…? As for Portugal, I’m proud to admit they deserved every word, and I don’t regret a thing. 

The inflation excitement emanating from you, my dear readers, is palpable. I can tell that the moment you’re finished  reading this, you’re going to inflate the nearest creature or first failing economy you see.  However, I must caution you: do not become an overzealous inflater. As every now-nihilistic toddler knows, if you inflate a balloon too much, even if you put your heart and soul into that inflation, eventually it’s gonna pop. 

Inflation demands finesse, and that’s why it’s my guiding word for 2021. It requires us to be better, to think harder. To not just fill, but to inflate. Honestly, becoming moist is not very complicated. Any fool can do it. In fact, I’m sure many of you are moist right now. But is your dad moist? And if he isn’t, how are you going to get him there?

I’ve learned from my mistakes. I entered the pandemic a wet boy, and I… continued much later in the pandemic an inflated, inflating man. So please: in 2021, inflate. I hope this piece inflated your lungs with laughter, your heart with good feelings, and your mind with grand schemes of inflated importance.