Uh, look, century, it's just not working out with us

The year 2001 was nothing like the movie 2001. We will always hold this against you.

Oh, boy. This is tougher than we thought it would be. Sit down, okay? Sit down, baby.

Listen, you’re great. You’re going to be a top-notch collection of decades and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it’s just not working out.

Twenty-first century, we’re breaking up with you.

Remember back at the beginning? Remember how exciting everything was? We’d heard so much about you even before we met. The great 21st century! You were the century that was going to end child poverty, rid us of homelessness and usher in a glorious age of global harmony. Politicians described you as possessing “limitless potential” and “tremendous promise.” Bill Clinton personally built a bridge to you.

Then we met and . . . well, we’re just going to come out and say it—what were you thinking with the whole 9/11 thing? We’d just got out of a 100-year relationship defined by global conflict and, in later years, the terrifying, ever-present spectre of complete annihilation. We were looking to chill. And then, boom, you hit us with Islamic fundamentalism. Talk about coming on a little strong.

Whoa whoa whoa—don’t get upset. It’s not you, it’s us. More accurately, it’s us getting sick and tired of you.

You’re crying. Perhaps we should have phrased that differently.

Listen up, baby: you’ve had your moments. The iPod. The iPhone. The new hourglass-shaped marshmallow in Lucky Charms. These are all winners and we love you for them. And believe us—you’ve still got a lot going for you as a century. Really, you do. There’s the return of Halley’s comet in 2061. There’s the next funny joke in a Rob Schneider movie in 2017. Plus, if I’ve got my Star Trek right, we’re all going to meet a Vulcan in about 50 years. You’re no Renaissance, but on most days you beat dying from consumption at the age of 24.

That said, the year 2001 was nothing like the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. We will always hold this against you.

And we’ve got to be honest, baby—part of the problem is how you treat yourself. It’s tough to watch sometimes. We’ve been with you for almost a decade now and your biggest-selling album so far in many parts of the world is by James Blunt. Don’t you have any self-respect? The 16th century gave us the letter J, the Gregorian calendar and the design for the first flush toilet. You’ve given us two pandemics and the personalized ring tone.

And then there’s our inability to communicate. From the outset, we thought we were pretty clear about kids—we were fine with having a few hundred million, a couple billion tops. But already we’re on pace for three billion children in our first 50 years together. There’s not enough spandex in the world to make a century look good after that.

But that’s not the real issue.

Wow, how do we put this without hurting your feelings?

You’re a drag, 21st century.

Thanks to you, everything we used to love doing is now considered bad for us. Buying a house with no money down? Bad. Eating anything with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup or actual taste? Worse. Fast food makes us obese. Fast muscle cars accelerate global warming. Fast and Furious movies make baby kittens cry. Your idea of a good time is a night spent gnawing on organic bark while browsing through our spam filter. It’s enough to make our relationship with the 10th century seem exciting by comparison—and we spent 75 of those years trying to figure out how to calculate the volume of solids.

We know you’re upset, but please stop blubbering like that—you’re submerging Bangladesh.

Look, maybe we just need to take a break, spend a little time apart. That would allow us to play the field a little—maybe see some other time frames. The 23rd century sounds nice: cool spaceships, a longer life expectancy, possibly some Wookiees. Or maybe we’ll hook up again with one of our exes, like the 18th century. Sure, dental care was primitive at best back then and a vaccine against rabies was still the fevered dream of a madman. But we haven’t been with the 18th century for more than 200 years—think of the makeup sex.

Sorry, that was insensitive.

The bottom line is that sometimes we don’t even know who you are anymore. We don’t understand some of the things you do. We wake up one morning and suddenly North Korea is blasting missiles into the sea, Zac Efron is a movie star and we can’t afford to retire. Thanks a lot, 21st century.

One other thing: we had an affair last year with the 1970s. That’s why we grew the sideburns. So sorry.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.