Ask around about favorite months, and some people might name June — a nice month for weddings. There’s also October (great leaf colors, depending on where you are), or March madness and the onset of spring.
Almost no one, however, will say January, which might be the most dreaded, hated month of the year. February isn’t too popular, either, but does at least have the advantage of being short. By contrast, January can seem interminable — 31 short dreary days and long frigid nights, with not much to do except contemplate another year long gone.
Or as an old-English rhyme puts it: "The blackest month in all the year is the month of Janiveer."
With so much stacked against it, it’s no surprise that January can seem...well, cranky about its lot. Now that another January is upon us, we rang it up for a chat.
Q: Hello, January, how are you?
A: Swell. Just...swell.
Q: What's the matter?
A: For starters, do you have to say my name like that? It almost sounds like you're holding your nose.
Q: I thought I was just saying it normally.
A: Yeah, that's the problem with my name. January. I've always hated it, you know. Other months have all the fun, and better names, too. "March," that's nice and short and active. Forceful, even. "June," same thing, almost sounds like "jump." "August," what better adjective could you ask for? And all those "-ber" months at the end of the year — September, October, November, December — they just roll right off the tongue. But my name, people almost wince when they say it.
Q: Where does your name come from anyway?
A: The Greek god Janus, whose name means "door." The god of beginnings. He also has two faces, one to look to the past and one to look to the future. February gets the god of purification, March the god of war, May the goddess of spring. But I get this two-faced freak who can't make up his mind if he's living in the past or the future. Just my luck.
Q: Don't you think you’re being just a little defensive?
A: Maybe so. But how would you feel if the only things people associated with you were hangovers, maxed-out credit card bills, busted new year's resolutions and Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Q: Oh, come on. You get all the good football bowl games.
A: But not the Super Bowl, not anymore. That little punk February gets it, the no good so-and-so.
Q: Do things get pretty heated among the months? Do you spend a lot of time ribbing each other?
A: God, yes. March still gets pretty uppity with me, since he used to be the first month of the year under the old 10-month Roman calendar. December is always such a pompous goody-goody. And ever since 9/11, September has been just insufferable. There's talk of retiring that date now.
Q: I'm sure lots of fascinating, important things have happened in January.
A: Name one.
A: The Challenger space shuttle blew up on Jan. 28, 1986.
Q: Oh, no.
A: Jesus was circumcised on new year’s day.
A: And the drinking straw was patented on Jan. 3, 1888.
Q: January, I think we're really reaching now.
A: See what I mean?
Q: Don't you get Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday?
A: Yes, there’s that — Jan. 15. I also get Mozart (Jan. 27) and Elvis Presley (Jan. 8). But also Richard Nixon (Jan. 9).
Q: Hey, a lot of people would probably call that a good thing.
A: You're too kind.