Jewish World Review Sept. 4, 2001 / 15 Elul, 5761
When I was a kid, school loomed over the final days of August like a circus big top. As the days grew shorter, my parents grew happier -- their summertime nightmare, me, was about to be whisked away to educational professionals for six delicious hours a day. September couldn't come fast enough for my folks.
Still to this day, my mind echoes with the rumbling sound of the school bus that arrived the day after Labor Day. After the dentist's drill, it's the worst sound in the world.
This coming autumn will be no less a horror for me.
First, Congress will be back in session, and we'll have to listen to non-stop accusations about who botched the economy and who's raiding the Social Security "lockbox." That sounds like fun, doesn't it? And there will be the endless soundbites about the ABM treaty, ANWR and the "Kyoto Protocol." Talk about gas emissions!
Besides politics we are also facing a new television season. Do you realize that 7-month-old Baby Bob is the new spokesperson for the CBS network? I know CBS is having trouble with older demographics, but come on! And Baby Bob is also getting his own program to boot. I just hope they keep him away from "Temptation Island." Then again, with our public education system being the way it is, maybe Baby Bob is the only one who can speak to American youth in words they'll understand.
This fall, television will also feature the so-called "reality" programs every day of the week. Some of these things are so convoluted and bizarre Baby Bob will have nightmares for years. All I know is that Americans with questionable mentalities are being sent over to Africa in a survival situation. The State Department fears war may ensue.
Football is also back this autumn -- that is, if the players can survive. So far this year, 11 football players have died on the field. Rumor has it the next commissioner of the NFL will be named Caligula. In my opinion, these performance "supplements" that many athletes are taking are endangering them. Baseball superstar Mark McGwire has admitted taking Creatine to help pump up his body, and now McGwire is having all kinds of physical problems. Studies are inconclusive about the damage these supplements can cause, but I am very suspicious of this entire shadowy world. You've only got one body, don't fill it with stuff you know nothing about.
Autumn also means longer work hours. Ducking out early on a Friday in October will get you a look an August departure will not get you. Work and social pressures re-intensify after Labor Day as families and businesses "gear-up" for the "pre-holiday" season. By the time Octoberfest rolls around, you really need that beer.
The local TV news business is insane in the fall because "sweeps" kick in. These are the months when ratings are calibrated and advertising revenues are set. So that's why you see Betty Lou the anchor on "Eyewitness News" dressed up like a hooker, wandering around the streets late at night for her "undercover" report. And hey, look, there's Steven the anchor warning you that flesh-eating bacteria have enrolled in your kid's school and it is just a matter of time before limbs start falling off. You never see that kind of stuff in July.
And then there are those political advertisements. You rarely see them in the summer, but in the fall they are everywhere. Various candidates accusing each other of being related to Jeffrey Dahmer or being responsible for Chernobyl. And you're against campaign-finance reform?
I like the weather in the fall, I will admit that. Heat and humidity are rough on the Irish, as our genes are waterlogged and chilly from centuries of drizzle. In the summertime, I am always amazed when I see people basking in the sun for hours. Just laying there, enjoying the warmth. If I did that my skin would turn red and slide off my body. I would be a regular on the "X-Files."
So summer is over, and there's nothing any of us can do about it. Baby Bob is on the job, footballs are flying, and politicians are lying. Fall is in the air, and the sap is flowing in Vermont. It is G-d's way of saying He is tired of seeing us in short pants. It's time to get
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy