Saturday, August 27, 2011

Is It September Yet?

Aaaah!  August in Alabama!  We residents of this great state enjoy endless days of blue skies, cricket song in the evening, lush plant life, mosquitoes, drought, and hundred- degree afternoons.  We sweat in line with our panting animals at the rabies clinic, shop for a back-to-school outfit in flip-flop weather, drink a gallon of sweet tea daily, and kid each other that there's a hint of fall in the air at 3:56 a.m.  We trudge through these dog days of summer by pulling up scraggly tomato plants, mowing with all manner of stupid hats on our heads, and buying football magazines at a time when no one would seriously contemplate sitting in a stadium.  We cannot change the ennui of summertime that has worn out its welcome.  What the month of August needs is a holiday.

Other months are saved from themselves by having this small but important perk.  For example, January would be a stretch of rainy skies and dark mornings without the faux celebration of Super Sunday.  Likewise February, except that we can clip coupons and talk ourselves into braving the Presidents' Day sales as we nibble confectioners' sugar hearts that say TXT ME.  March is home to St. Patrick's Day, which gives us permission to break our Lenten solemnity with green beer, and June boasts Flag Day, a dress-rehearsal for July 4th.

August?  It's the desert of the desk-calendar, the white board still erased clean from the last day of school.  August lacks a holiday, however contrived it may be.  (Contrived holidays do work--How many of us have enjoyed an unearned splurge because it was Bosses' Day?)  I submit the following for your approval:

How about another patriotic holiday?  I suggest Long Island Day.  On August 27, 1776, the American colonists fought the British in the Battle of Long Island.  We would not become too New York Centric with this holiday because, in fact, the British won the battle.  It would be a sportsmanlike gesture on our part to remember their fallen and ours and to let them know that they fought the good fight, they were honorable, and we forgive them.  We won the war, after all.  It would be a day for visiting beaches, riding ferryboats, and drinking Long Island tea.  We'd take the day off, most of us, but retailers would swoon with happiness, decorating their stores with American flags and Union Jacks and offering 17.76% off all school supplies.

Church attendance is pretty low in August, what with guilty Catholics staying awake all night and blameless Baptists sleeping in.  So how about a religious holiday?  It would not carry the clout of Easter or Christmas, nor would it be as time-consuming as Hanukkah or as demanding as Ramadan.
It might simply nudge us out of our too-warm beds and into a summery outfit purchased just for St. Batholomew's Day!  August 24th is the saint's own feast day.  St. Bartholomew met a bad end, even for a martyr.  It's said that the Armenians flayed him alive and crucified him.  St. Bart is the patron saint of tanners, which isn't funny.  But August finds many of us still working on our tans, and there is a Caribbean island named for St. Bart, so maybe we could honor his labor for Christendom by stretching out on "some beach, somewhere."  Wearing a swimsuit on St. Bart's Day would become similar to wearing green on that other saint's day.

Finally, if religion and patriotism succumb to heat and drought the way tomatoes do, I propose an invented holiday.  Just as Secretaries' Day, Bosses' Day and Grandparents' Day were the brain children of greedy florists, greeting card publishers, and restaurateurs, an August holiday can be created by hardware dealers, bait-shop employees, and teachers needing a little more summer before Labor Day.  I propose Bug Day, an educational celebration of all that crawls.  On August 16 of every year, young and young-at-heart, will capture each and every creepy-crawly in sight.  It can be caged or boxed, pampered or petted, but never, ever squashed.  Repellents and insecticides will be banned on this day as will fly swatters, roach motels, and bug lights.  Children will attend parties decked out as their favorite critter, and they'll swat at spider-shaped pinatas filled with--you guessed it--gummi worms.  Adults will attend Bug Out parties and sip cocktails called Mosquito Mist, Long Island Tea-tse, and of course, Grasshopper.  Women's magazines would get in on the fun with recipes for adorable cakes and cupcakes that look like bees.  For the romantic couple and the friend-who-has-everything, the upscale department store will feature bejewelled dragonflies with smooth emerald wings and tiny ruby eyes.  They'll cost a fortune, but hey--Bug Day only comes once a year.  For those of us on a shoestring budget because no one has any money at the end of summer, there will be cards.  I'm liking Bug Day more and more!  Bug Day sales, Bug Day barbecues, Bug Day vacation packages, Bug Day education materials for Kindergartners!  Let us begin our celebration today.  I shall claim the distinction having written and sent the world's first Bug Day card to all of you:
                                       Bug Day Greetings Across the Miles
     You're my friend though far away
     And thoughts of you bug me today.
     Your chirping voice, your mantis smile,
     Your stinging wit, your waspish style,
     And most of all, your ham & eggs.
     I'd crawl to breakfast if I had six legs.

Happy Bug Day!  Happy St. Bart's Day!  Happy Long Island Day!  Stay cool.