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T.S. Eliot is Wrong. February is the Cruelest Month

“I am so sick of February. It’s the shortest month but it sure doesn’t feel that way.”

-Toby Flenderson, “The Office”

I’ve never much cared for native St. Louisan T.S. Eliot.

Come to think of it, I’ve never cared much for any modernist poets or modern “artists.” The only class I ever dropped in college was an elective art course. I had trouble believing that many of the things we were looking at were actually considered to be art.

One day I asked the professor, “Based on what you’re showing us, couldn’t someone could just randomly smear feces on a wall and call it ‘art?'” She responded, matter-of-factly, that one such artist did exactly that with poo. And it was delightful. The very next day I paid a visit to the registrar’s office and got the hell out of that class.

I tend to believe:

  • If a poem or piece of art is something I could do, then it’s probably not poetry or art.
  • If something is confusing,  vague, super dense, impenetrable, or open to way too many interpretations, maybe it’s not deep at all. Maybe it’s just gibberish. Maybe you’re just on better drugs than I am, so it makes sense to you, but not to me. Maybe, just maybe, the “artist” is simply pulling everyone’s leg.

But back to Eliot, who smeared verbal manure on written pages and called it poetry: I’m hardly the first person to feel this way about him. No less than H.P. Lovecraft did a far more masterful hit job on Eliot than I ever could. When Eliot abandoned America to live in the United Kingdom in 1914, I’m sure most Yanks were overjoyed to be rid of him and his pretentious twattery.

Most of all, I must vigorously dispute Mr. Eliot’s contention from The Waste Land that “April is the cruellest month.” It absolutely is not. Not even close. April can be a volatile month weather-wise, but it’s a total cakewalk compared to some other months. And if you live in the northern hemisphere, as our least favorite bloviating poet did for his entire sorry life, you’d know that in fact February is the suckiest month. And it’s not even close.

First and foremost is the weather. February weather sucks and sucks hard. The days are slowly getting longer, but they’re crappy days, so who cares? Ice and snow predominate through much of the United States. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it makes you yearn for the sweet release of death. This year, even Texas got in on the February winter misery, with disastrous consequences.

The nastiest blizzard to ever hit southeast Missouri struck in 1979. Care to guess when? To no one’s surprise, it was in February. February 26 to be exact. In an area where people go berserk over two inches of snow, we got two feet of thundersnow. I was not quite seven years old at the time, but I remember it fairly well. My dad dug a path out to the cars in the driveway and the walls of snow on each side of the path were taller than me. The roof of my school’s gymnasium collapsed, ruining the hardwood floor. The replacement floor was some sort of hellish blue rubber substance that ruined the knees of an entire generation of kids. Our cafeteria was also damaged and we had to brown bag it for a few weeks.

February has the shittiest sports scene. Football is over and baseball hasn’t quite yet begun. The NBA and NHL are still in their regular seasons. Same for college basketball, which is meaningless for the most part anyway up until March Madness. Which, as the name implies, occurs in March. Definitely not February. The month is a gaping maw of sports nothingness.

The February holidays are also garbage. Nobody cares about Presidents Day. Most presidents are (or were) douchenozzles.

Valentine’s Day is a minefield for all men (taken or single) and a depressing day for singles of any gender (real or perceived.) Back in high school, one of our clubs held a fundraiser every Valentine’s Day where you could send candy canes to your romantic interests. They would be delivered in class in the middle of the afternoon for maximum embarrassment. My incoming candy cane haul was usually close to non-existent, and I’m still angry about it. Plus I once went something like eleven straight fucking years without a Valentine’s date. While I saved a lot of money, it made me loath February even more.

Ash Wednesday usually occurs in February, and few holidays are as depressing as that one. Nothing says buzzkill more than fasting and putting a funky mark on your forehead. Then repeating the fasting thing every Friday for forty days. No thanks. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, moderation really isn’t my thing.) But at least Lent isn’t Ramadan (also known as “Lent on Steroids”), which can also start in February. Ugh.

If you are in school, February offers no relief. It’s the dead ass middle of the school year. Spring break isn’t until March, because nothing good is allowed in February.

Come to think of it, nothing begins in February but misery. Nothing ends in February, either. Except maybe your hopes and dreams.

February should be renamed “The Taint.” For example, this is Saturday, The Taint 27th. Or Saturday, the 27th of The Taint if you want to sound sophisticated. To our Canadian and European friends, it’s 27 The Taint 2021.

Since I’m doing butt jokes, it’s appropriate that February is the second month of the year, because it’s really a number two kind of month. If you know what I’m saying.

Politically speaking it’s also a crap month. At least once every eight years you’re guaranteed to have a new president bragging about the stuff he/she is doing in their first hundred days. Since Congress has no gonads and everything’s done by executive order, what fun is that anymore? Maybe once every four years you get a juicy Cabinet confirmation battle. But still… yawn.

One of the only good things about February is that it’s the shortest month. But every four years you get an extra day in February just to rub your nose in it. Why couldn’t we have June 31st or October 32nd instead? (I’m on the record of being a big fan of October, after all.) Leap Years, as currently designed, are designed for extra (cruel and unusual) punishment.

I will give a shout out to Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, which most often (but not always) fall in February.  And in fairness, February of 2020 was good because it was the last “normal” month before the COVID-19 pandemic wrecked hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of social calendars. In the rear view mirror, February 2020 looks frickin’ amazing. But in true February style, we didn’t know it at the time, so it just felt miserable. As per usual.

I often like to make outlandish statements of things I would do if I were God Emperor. I would definitely outlaw Mondays and Februarys, and double outlaw Mondays during February. The only problem with this, of course, is that people would just complain about Tuesdays and March (or Tuesdays during March.) Human beings love to complain and kvetch. Some of us more than others.

The best thing about this February? It’s almost over.

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