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Monday, August 19, 2013


It was all back in the day when July 4th fell on July the Fourth.

It was a Sunday that year. All the big holidays fell on a Sunday that year.
They call it The Year Of Sabbath Merriment in the almanacs yet, sort of combining stern disapproval with a calendrical amazement.

The 5th was a Monday... just the facts, ma'am, just the facts.

So my mother thought that the 5th was the holiday. I told her that the Holiday Bingo that has been done with our national holidays did not extend to certain important ones: Christmas, Easter... July 4th; it still had to be on July 4th. How could it not be? Could Cinco de Mayo be on the 20th?
But the obsessional notion was firmly implanted, regardless of the fact that she did apprehend the absurdity of celebrating the 4th on the 5th, or the 6th, perhaps, if the 4th had been a Saturday... which, I guess, it had been last year, according to the famous scientific maxim of the "Precession of the Days-Off". How we had coped with the 4th on a Saturday, no one seemed to remember... a sure hint that we were dithering, but that never stopped us before.

Now you may find it odd that my mother would obsessionally believe this to be the case: there was no pay-off, no one was going to give her a million dollars for believing that the 4th was the 5th; no one was going to congratulate her on her devotion and faith. It just came into her head, and that was that.
She is a ravin' maven of "a bird in the hand..." school of cognition science :
if the idea is in one's head, it is worth at least twice as much as the reality, which has so far escaped notice.
If we had made reference to the Holiday Anomaly, she would have gone on forever, or - at least until July 8th. She had already culled her memories of youth and college days and WW II to come up with examples and counter-examples to bolster the "5th = 4th" hypothesis. Her major argument was that the Post Office was closed, followed by City, State, and Federal offices. In my hometown, the library was closed; I know for a fact, because I checked it out on the 2nd.

Monday is Garbage Day in their parts, and is pushed back to Tuesday in the event of Monday being a holiday. So the garbage sat sequestered in the hot garage, marinating yet another day. I had to go downtown to Sans Souci - the name of the quaint village - and on my return, I passed the garbage truck.
What excellent refutation! I thought.

So I drove in, waved my arms, and said that the garbage trucks were a-comin'!
My mother reacted by asking me whether I had actually seen a garbage truck. Perhaps she thought I had been hanging around downtown with some "drugstore cowboys", shooting the breeze, and one of the less reputable ones had mentioned that he heard tell that the garbage trucks wuz comin'.
I don't know.
My mother's first response to any situation is to question the cognitive basis of the reported events: whether tragedy or comedy. If someone were to rush in, saying that terrorists had set off a dirty bomb in Sans Souci and best head for the root cellar right quick!, my mother would question the source of this information, citing liberal bias as a basis for disbelief, and probably say that Obama was behind it... ... all the while, a dirty cloud of radiation begins to fall about our ears.

So my nephews and I headed for the garage, followed by my father, who - at 90 - stills thinks we are not quite competent to set out the garbage. Well, we set it out. We set it out at the road immediately across from the garbage of Cornelius across the road. My father caught up and said "he" always put it next to the mail box... about 100 feet to the east. At this moment, the garbage truck rounded the corner off South Channel Drive, and we were the first stop.
So we dragged the smelly garbage up to the mail box. I'm not sure why the mail box is so important. The guys wrestling the containers did not seem to care whether the junk was next to a federally-protected mail box or not. And then they went 100 feet more and stopped and chucked Cornelius' junk into the compactor at the rear of the truck. Then everything was quiet, and we felt the high point had passed. We felt the adrenalin being washed out.

When we re-entered the house, my mother jumped into a discourse about the matter, wondering how anyone could have known, since the 5th was the holiday, and so on and so on. And the City offices were closed. My brother ventured that some people were off on the 2nd, Friday, as well as the 5th, and the 4th had become a four day holiday. I stated that businesses were always squealing about lost productivity, so why would anyone believe that they would chuck two more extra days off to their employees?

I said that I was quite sure - as sure as I was standing there on Monday, the 5th of July, 2010 that Wal-Mart was open and Wal-Mart had its wraith-like employees flitting about their great cavernous, dirty stores, staring at people with empty eyes, muttering "Welcome to Wal-Mart..."  with cadaverous mouths, or their other employees that look like part-time bouncers and roust-abouts up to no good were stalking customers in the aisle maze.

She repeated the fact that government offices were closed. Then I said something I hadn't said in a long time:

"Well, it might not be a holiday for people that have to work for a living."

And that, constant reader, was that.
No one said another word about it. I did not mean that government workers - or people in offices - don't work, but... ... you know what I mean.

And I had carved my codger status in stone; "work for a living", indeed!

We had not only stooped to folly, we picked it up, and we crowned ourselves with it!


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