It was the best of lists. It was the worst of lists. Also the most, least, biggest, smallest, flattest and roundest of lists.
‘Tis the season when experts on everything roll out their report cards of the past year. There are the usual: Best Books, Worst Books, Best Movies, Worst Movies, Most Popular Baby Names, Most Popular Pet Names. And there are unusual, for example the 20 Most Popular Dog Names of 2019 That Would Totally Work for Your Kid Too. I didn’t make that up.
Nor did I make up the Most Notable Cryptozoology Deaths, the Scariest Clowns or the Best Mannequin Pranks of 2019. Honest. And what a year it was for mannequin pranks.
There are the lists of best and worst products of the past year, for example, the Top 10 Cordless Pet Hair Vacuums, the Worst Technology and the Best Snow Shovels of the past year. We use our regular vacuum to suck up cat hair, so I had no idea there were enough pet hair vacuums to make a list. And I know without looking at the list what the best snow shovel is. It’s the one anyone besides me is willing to use in my driveway.
There are the lists we all wish we could be on, for example, the World’s Highest Paid Athletes/Celebrities/Models and the People Who Mattered in 2019. It’s worth noting they’re not the same people.
There are the 500 Richest People in the World and the Top 10 Smartest People in the World. I’m always happy to see there are more rich people than smart people on the list. It gives me hope for my financial future.
There’s the World’s Most Beautiful People, which sounds like a good list to be on until you realize hardly anyone gets to be on the list two years in a row. Either beauty truly is fleeting or it’s a really tough year.
There are the lists you’re relieved you’re not on, first and foremost, Famous People Who Died, but also Biggest Celebrity Scandals (with photos) and the Biggest Celebrity Breakups. That last one is full of surprises for me every year. I rarely know that the couples on the list broke up. Sometimes I don’t know they were ever together. Or who they are.
There’s the 10 Most Embarrassing Moments of 2019 (with video), which I’m proud to say I haven’t been on—yet. I hope they never expand the list to 20.
There’s the list of the Dumbest Criminals of the Year. The top honor frequently goes to someone who was caught after posting photos from the crime scene on Instagram. Maybe “top honor” is a poor choice of words.
List makers take great pleasure in listing the mistakes of others. There’s the Worst Political Mistakes, Biggest Movie Mistakes, Biggest Password Mistakes and the Worst Celebrity Fashion Faux Pas of the past year. I couldn’t find a list of the biggest mistakes of list creators. I may put that one together myself next year.
Doesn’t it seem like before someone somewhere creates the list of the Top 100 People of the Year or the Most Annoying TV Commercials, there ought to be a vote? I wouldn’t be much help with the Best Performing Stocks of 2019 or the Top Ten Architectural Websites, but I have some suggestions for the Dumbest People of the Year. Also the Dumbest Lists of the Year.
Not only that, I started seeing lists summing up 2019 in early November. I sympathize with list makers wanting to take the holidays off, but how can they compile a list representing an entire year before the year is over? A lot can happen on New Year’s Eve.
No, list creators should definitely wait until January if they want to be fair and accurate and include any embarrassing moments I have in late December.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Worry About, Humorous Essays on the Hazards of Our Time available in early 2020. Contact [email protected])