You okay, November? It seems like you’re going through some stuff.
I’ve already gotten two solicitations from male friends wanting me to support their facial hair over the next 30 days. And “Your Novel” sent me an e-mail some days ago saying, “Write Me,” which was disturbing on a number of levels. And now all the marathon pictures and marathon posts are flooding in.
What is going on with our Novembers?
April is the cruelest month. February is the shortest month, with Valentine’s Day, that gauntlet, plunked in the middle. January is resolution month. March is in like a lion and out like a lamb, ides and assassinations. May is the lusty month when everything goes blissfully astray. June is weddings. July is Patriotism and Extreme Heat. August “is what it isn’t, and it isn’t really anything,” if our Style section is to be believed. September, back to school. October, spooky, with gourds. December, “The Holidays,” with capital letters and snow falling and sad people drinking alone in the airport to fill out the Dark-Night-of-the-Soul montage portion of their films.
What’s November? November used to be The Month Of Continued Gourds, But Less Spooky, More Pilgrims. It still hosts Thanksgiving, but the rest of the month is mutating and bursting at the seams. This is the month of violent Black Friday stampedes in which people are sometimes killed, all to buy half-price blenders. This is the month when Guy Fawkes lost it, or perhaps didn’t, depending on your opinion of the Stuart monarchy. Wikipedia informs me that not only is this National Novel Writing Month, it is also National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), National Pomegranate Month in the United States, International Drum Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month, No Shave November, Movember and National Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. Awareness of all those first ones inevitably leads you to the last one, as the blood starts surging in your ears.
I haven’t seen this many bizarre resolutions since the seven endings of “Return of the King.”
My newsfeed is filled with them. “Yeah!” everyone says. “Couldn’t run a marathon in April. Way too temperate! It’s NOVEMBER all the way! Mm, feel that brisk autumn air! I’m going to go learn how to can things and buy those little disposable flossing doodads that you see in stores but never in commercials, but someone must use them, surely!” I don’t know if they actually say this. I have never experienced the urge to run a marathon in any kind of weather. Whenever a friend announces that he or she is doing so, I feel betrayed, but grudgingly impressed, like I imagine James Bond feels at the end of 50 percent of his relationships.
Look, I love a good mustache. I love a good mustache as much as I hate a playoff beard.
I like having novels at hand to read. Last year I tried writing one myself during Nanowrimo, which turned out to obey the law that The More People You Tell About A Project, The Less Likely It Is To Come To Fruition, because the effort of telling people about it so exhausts you that you stagger home each evening unable to get any work done, the same thing that stymied my efforts to find and tip a cow.
And marathons — well, I feel about marathon runners the way Will Rogers felt about heroes. “We can’t all be heroes,” he said, “because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
It’s just odd that all of it seems to spring on us at once. You fall asleep at the end of October, then wake up to discover that all the friends you were planning to drink through the month with are turning in early to work on their novels and mustaches, respectively, and someone has changed all your clocks. It’s — unsettling.
I think I understand the logic behind it.
We look at the year that is past and realize that, contrary to our initial goal, we did not eat an average of one banana every day. But it’s not too late to change that! By December our chance will have passed. But November — we might actually get around to that novel! It’s the last-minute scramble of months. This is the month when they decided to end World War I, just to make it as metaphorical as possible — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (which, as a sidenote, tells you everything you need to know about how vital World War I was to everyone’s national interests, that they could just switch it off at 11, but never mind). November has that last-minute, urgent but not deadly, when-you-can-still-get-things-done quality about it. Most months, when you grow weird facial hair, this is just a sign that you need to get out more. But November it marks a real commitment. And showing up at Thanksgiving dinner with a handlebar mustache always adds a certain threat to the conversation, like if things went really badly you could hop onto a bicycle with one big wheel and go zooming off to the World’s Fair.
One of these would be enough to sink an ordinary month. If we ever weren’t online, this one might pass, too. But we’re stuck here. One man’s Weird Online Resolution month is everyone else’s Wealth of Beard Updates and Novel Chapters. It’s strange. It’s intense. It’s too much.
November, calm down.