A decade in verse


We scan a thousand years of mankind east and west;
And reflect, too, on the century and list the worst and best.

We talk of all we're doing for the millennium that's pending,
But we're paying scant attention to the decade that's just ending.

So raise your Cosmopolitans, your Snapples, boutique beer!
And give it up for the good ol' '90s one final, rousing cheer.

It was a time of great prosperity, when it became the status quo
To make millionaires of office clerks with each dot-com IPO.

There were cell phones every place you looked. The sound! Like Dante's hells!
The pollution of the '90s came in buzzers, beeps and bells.

The '90s gave us the coffee set, no longer a cup of "joe."
Now it's half-caff no-fat latte with no foam or sugar to go.

Four-wheel drive was once just used by guys who hunted moose.
Now soccer moms drive SUVs with special slots for gourmet juice.

A night on the town could include a tattoo, and a part of your body could be pierced through and through.

The rave was the rage, also Ally McBeal,
and E-Trade allowed us to make the big deal.

The '90s had a soul, of course chicken soup, professor Morrie,
Angels, Oprah, a light embraced, and McCourt's best-selling story.
Our kids were stuck on Hogwarts school and Pokemon and Beanies;
As adults we turned to good cigars and found, again, martinis.

In sports, we got to watch in awe great Mark and Sammy slug,
We'll remember Brandy's Nike bra and a limping Kerri Strug.

We had our controversies, too not all bad, it seems to me.
We scuttled a World Series but nailed the IOC.

The Tour de France had a big drug scandal
And the baseball strike was a lot to handle.

Mike Tyson, Marv Albert could go out one night
In the spirit of Christmas and just grab a bite.

Tonya Harding caused a frenzy with her special brand of skating;
But the scandal paled in every way to a president who's dating.

Newt and Rush and Linda Tripp and
Starr all did their best;

But the president's impeachment hung on a blue Gap dress.
Bill dodged the truth, accused his foes, and wallowed in self-pity.
Hill stood by him like Tammy Wynette, then escaped to New York City.

We lost a princess in a car underground,
And Camelot ended in Nantucket Sound.

Mother Theresa roused us to pray,
And Joltin' Joe has gone away.

Gretzky won't skate, and Jordan won't soar
And Lucy won't tease Charlie Brown anymore.

Montana and Elway no longer remain;
Nor Jerry and Kramer and George and Elaine.
But we begin the New Year in a much brighter vein
As we listen to Bush, Bradley, Gore and McCain.

We have hope in hearts as they talk and they stump.
But the new decade's done for if the choice is named "Trump." (Copyright 1999 Newspaper Enterprise Assn. Joan Ryan is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Send comments to her at her e-mail at joanryan@sfgate.com.)

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