<em>“But February made me shiver, with every paper I delivered. Bad news on the doorstep. I couldn’t take one more step.”</em>
—From the song “American Pie”, by Don McLean
The greatest thing about Latin is that it is simple. We—those who invented, practice and subsequently butcher the English language—have made Latin tough. And so it is with the word February. The second month in the Gregorian calendar comes from the Latin word februaris…which means atonement through purification. Apropos.
February is awful! It’s cold. The bright-eyed enthusiasm for the new year has long worn off. Most of us are still in debt from Christmas. We have that stupid, fake, commercial holiday on the 14th. Did I mention it is cold? Well, I could write that twice if I want; because it’s usually twice as cold.
February is so bad that there was a time when it did not exist. The original Roman calendar only had 10 months. Then Julius Caesar, in an act that proves he was indeed a tyrant, added January and February for the silly notion of accuracy in measuring a year. Pfffft!
At least February is only 28 days. There are many theories as to why this is so. I would like to think it was an act of mercy.
February. Football is over. Baseball is coming, but not soon enough. Most TV programs put their best episodes on this month. It is called the “sweeps” month. It is when advertisers check to see which shows are popular and which are flops. Why February? Because there isn’t any football or baseball; and everyone is inside their house watching TV…because it is so damn cold out.
Every four years we get a break and have the Winter Olympics in February. I mentioned in my column last week that I am that guy who will be up at 5:30 AM to watch Olympic curling. Would I do that if curling was in June or November?
My three children were born in November and December. Do the math. That is what February has wrought. What else is there to do?
I love the cable channel Turner Classic Movies. It shows Oscar winning movies every year in this pathetic month. When AMPAS moved the Oscars up to the end of February (this year, March 2nd) they did us all a favor. We can lose ourselves on our couch and watch these great films. It beats trying to go somewhere…because it is so damn cold out.
However, there is a dark side to movies in February. After the Christmas and Oscars movies that make the rounds throughout December and January, what is left is the awful films that studios release under the hope and prayer that someone (anyone!) will be stupid enough to waste money on their garbage pictures. 2014 might break the tradition. The Lego Movie and the Robocop remake are coming out this month. I was looking forward to seeing both films when I heard about them. Then it was announced both films would be released in February. Uh oh.
Eddie Murphy hates this month. In February 2007, he was on track to win an Oscar for his performance in the movie “Dreamgirls”. Then his film “Norbit” came out. Universally panned, it is now Oscar lore that since voting for the Oscars was open during that week, Murphy was punished for making such an embarrassing film.
The tag line for “Norbit” was, “Have you ever made a really big mistake?” Ominous.
* The month that starts with a fat, furry rat telling us we are screwed for another six weeks.
* The month whose birthstone is an amethyst—a word that when translated into English means “to be drunk.”
* The month where we are plagued by those vomit-inducing commercials from Kay Jewelers and Jared, all because of that fraudulent event known as <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/opinion/article_4db5233e-7141-11e2-a241-001a4bcf6878.html” target=”_blank”>Valentine’s Day</a>.
* The month that used to have separate holidays honoring the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Then some genius came up with the idea of morphing these events into a single holiday: President’s Day. Now, we get to celebrate the dubious, undistinguished administrations of Grover Cleveland, Rutherford B. Hayes and William Henry Harrison.
And how do we honor the former Commanders-In-Chief on President’s Day? Mattress sales. We go to furniture stores and we buy a mattress at 30 to 50% off.
It makes sense for furniture stores to push mattresses in February. All people want to do this month is lie in bed doing nothing—because it’s so damn cold out.
(Columnist’s Note: Most of my columns are about 1,000 words long. This column was under 800 words. That is my homage to February, the shortest month.)