Sometimes I’m amazed that someone else in the world is thinking the same strange thought I have in my head, but, there you go, it happened again. I’ve been treading water day to day, realizing that the month of August is a stagnant interlude in an otherwise busy calendar. Everything’s closed, no one works (except me, apparently), the good people are all on vacation and there isn’t even comic relief since Jon Stewart is AWOL from his nightly show.
Then I came across a like-minded fellow, Editor David Plotz, who wrote a piece in Slate magazine in 2001 suggesting that we shorten August to 10 days. Brilliant. Where have you been all my life, David? Mr. Plotz reminds us that August is the “Mississippi of months,” horribly humid and distinguished by an undistinguished history. He recalls that the U.S. dropped the atom bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August. It was the month Anne Frank was arrested. Elvis and Marilyn died in August, and there are no real holidays for the entire 31 days.
You know how certain months have various uplifting honorary celebrations, such as National Hotdog Month in July and Apple Picking Month in October? The best August can offer is National Psoriasis Awareness Day, National Panini Day and Neurosurgery Outreach Week. I appreciate the offer, but I’m busy that week. No brain surgery, please.
As usual, Europe is way ahead of us in eliminating August. Basically, Europe closes up shop in the eighth month of the year. If you travel to France or Italy or Spain, you won’t find a single native speaker, since all of them are away on vacation. You will, however, be able to chat with all those nice American tourists who take over the continent. Believe me, the McDonald’s in Venice is standing-room-only.
If you happen to come undone during August, you’re pretty much twisting in the wind. Traditionally, psychologists and psychiatrists take vacation time in August. They have people covering, of course, but who’s available in August? Most likely someone who couldn’t find anyone to go away with, or is afraid to travel or is in a desperate financial situation. I mean, who else would choose to work in August?