Copyright 2004 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved


Crank's Corner                                                            January 22, 2004


                                    The Monday of the Year


    It's January, the first month of a new year, and I wonder who's bright
idea it was to begin the year in the coldest, bleakest month of the twelve.
Just our luck, for living in the Northern Hemisphere.  South of the equator,
one doesn't get a white Christmas, but neither does one get slammed with
post-holiday credit card bills in the middle of heating season.
    If you think of November and December as a weekend, a time
crammed with extra household tasks, entertainments, and family gatherings,
then January is definitely a Monday.  No more parties, no more visiting, just
sitting down in front of the bills and trying to figure out how to make ends
meet.  The income tax forms start showing up in the mail; that might be a
good thing, if you expect to get a refund, but for a lot of people it's just
another inspiration for dread.  The sun seldom shines, and when it does, it's
usually a sign that the temperature has dropped far enough for witches to
start digging out their thermal brassieres.  Going anywhere in a car requires
massive efforts with shovels and brooms and ice scrapers, and that's
assuming the car is willing to start and to run in the first place.  The roads
are hazardous, and all the other drivers are idiots who, despite prior years of
experience, have forgotten how to drive on snow and ice.
    To add to the fun, real estate taxes are due in January.  You think you
might be coming down with the flu, the wind is sucking the heat out through
that window you meant to caulk last October, the red ink on the utility bills
does not mean that the gas company is in a festive mood, and the "good"
news is that the county appraisers think your property is worth more than it
used to be, so they've raised your tax assessment accordingly.
Unfortunately, their rating formula doesn't take into account the facts that
the the roof is leaking because of the ice dam on the rear eaves, the drains
have developed a surly reluctance, and the tiny spot of mildew on the
basement wall has enjoyed a growth spurt and is now a moldy patch the size
of Cleveland.
    Piling insult upon injury, television in January is nothing but re-runs
and sports.  How much televised ice skating can there possibly be?  February
is a ratings sweeps month, full of specials and new programs; the networks
use January to soften us up and make us desperate for any fresh offerings, no
matter how dreadful.  My favorite programs have been shuffled around to
different nights of the week, and, if there are two shows I like on any given
evening, they are bound to be on competing networks during the same time
slot.  Have you ever noticed that, if you've seen only one episode of a
program because it airs opposite a program you like better, but you decide to
watch it because the one you usually watch is a repeat, it inevitably turns out
to be the episode you've already seen?  How do they do that?
    January sends millions of students back to school, where they kick the
new semester off to a roaring start by exchanging all the fresh germs they
picked up from out-of-town relatives over Christmas vacation.  When I was
in college, professors lecturing in large halls were frequently drowned out by
the chorus of sneezes and coughs generated by sickly students in January;
we'd barely recovered from the round of illnesses we'd exchanged after the
Thanksgiving holiday when we returned home for fresh germs at Christmas,
and our weakened resistance guaranteed that January was always a month of
misery.
    Bills, bad weather, taxes, illness, and re-runs..........a few clearance
sales and Superbowl commercials don't compensate for January's
drawbacks.  Have you gotten used to writing the new numeral at the end of
the date, or do all your checks have a scribbled-over "3" on them?  We're
grumpy and moving slowly, recuperating from the holiday "weekend" and
reluctantly returning to the work of living an ordinary life.  Spring is months
away, as is the "payday" of a summer vacation; I don't like Mondays, and
January is the Monday of the year.

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