I hate August.
Not my dear friend and brother in Christ by the same name. Thankfully, that August was born in July. For him I have nothing but fraternal love and respect.
The month, however, is a spiritual boil in the most uncomfortable place possible on the ethereal being.
August is a nasty, noisome, nagging, never-ending month. It is hot, humid, hopeless and humorless. August is like a summer cold. It won’t go away, and serves no purpose except to sap the soul, and to lead to awkwardly alliterative assemblies of sentences that never seem to end.
There are a few good things about August, namely birthdays of several folks close to me, but August is generally as cuddly as Dr. Suess’ proverbial seasick crocodile. Indeed, August’s effects on Your Writer would make a pre-epiphany Grinch back slowly away, avoiding eye contact.
When I was a kid, August meant we were in the last days before the loom and gloom of the start of school in September. Church and scout camps were over. Our parents and the leaders of various groups were tired of us. We were largely allowed to go semi-feral, but due to the heat and humidity, there was no motivation to enjoy what was left of our summer freedom. At least today’s generation can go back to school earlier and enjoy air conditioning.
Some of the problems from that tender young age still hold true.
In August, it is too hot to fish. Most of the self-respecting fish have gone deep, and only eat at night, when mosquitoes the size of redtail hawks drive Deet-resistant daggers into the veins of anyone foolish enough to go outside. My beloved catfish are hungry, but ammunition has gotten so expensive I can’t afford to fish and shoot mosquitoes.
August always leaves me hungry. It is too hot to eat, which is something I love to do. The idea of a contentedly full belly in hundred-degree heat is repugnant, so I go off my feed like a hunting hound and growl a lot.
August, I despise you.
August is the eighth month, and while I am no numerologist, I am sure there is something unlucky or illegal or irritating associated with the number eight. It even looks suspicious – but that could just be because I am hungry, hot, hurting and enmeshed in the angst of August.
One thing I value almost as much as food is sleep, and in August, sleep is fleeting. It’s too hot, too disheartening, and too something I haven’t thought of yet, since it’s August and I am short on sleep.
I’m fairly sure MacBeth’s soliloquy on sleep occurred in August. I mean, think about it. He was running around killin’ people, had drank and eaten himself into a stupor, and was arguing with his wife when Shakespeare had him utter the words:
“Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast…”
I guess technically it wasn’t a soliloquy, since he and Lady MacBeth were arguing at the time. Likely she couldn’t sleep either, and opted for a pre-dawn domestic dispute since judgement is often fouled by the fugue and fog and foolishness that is August.
August is always either too hot or too wet. There are other months with meteorological mishmashes and missed schedules, of course, but August consistently has too much of one and not enough of the other. Either the wildfire danger is high, or we’re nervously eyeing the tropics as a weather system in the Sahara desert burps, and the Atlantic develops indigestion in the form of a low-pressure system that eventually becomes a hurricane that aims at our coast, but can’t make up its mind about where to hit.
I was chasing one of those storms one August when it stalled several thousand miles away. Some friends were kind enough to invite me to spend the resultant wasted weekend at their home near the beach. We took their boat out to one of the islands the next day, to play in the rough surf, catch a few fish and have some fun.
I was exploring behind a sand dune when my friend Thompson began hollering for me to come see what he had found. I trotted over the dune and had picked up a full head of steam when all of my weight drove my right foot into a hidden patch of cactus.
In an hour, my foot was swelling. Thankfully my friend’s wife was a nurse, and spent a very gentle hour and a half pulling tines from my foot so I could drive a stick shift truck two hours home that evening. Then I spent a few days fighting an infection. For years, tines would occasionally calcify and work their way out, reminding me of why I hat August.
Proof positive of the evil entity that is August was exhibited the next month, when we returned to the island and the patch of cactus was completely gone. A storm sweeping over the beach might have had something to do with that, but I prefer to think it was just a variety of cactus that only attacks in August. I have often wondered if we had accidentally discovered a new type of cacti. I would name it augusticacti horribilis paininfootus.
Indeed, now that I think of it, August is like a cactus: stubborn, immortal, prickly, and mostly inedible.
I despise August.
I lack the time, space, words, or will to count the ways, because August wears one down like an embittered, hyper-caffeinated mother-in-law wearing perfume that smells like honey badger musk on a road trip to see someone neither of you care for, in a compact car with a broken air conditioner, trapped between the three worst students from remedial driver’s ed class and a trucker whose Red Bull consumption passed the legal limit several days back.
But after a mere thirty-one days of torment, torture, trouble, terror, traumatic, muddle-fuddling (that’s an actually word, by the way); just 744 hours of sweat-soaking, swearword-inspiring, spittle-slinging, doubleknit polyester galling, rash-inducing waterboarding; 44,640 minutes that are akin to arguing with a late-night telemarketer who only speaks archaic Azerbaijanese; a mere 2.67 million seconds of sticking a wet finger in a light socket – after all that, there is blessed relief that is September, the Golden Month of Promise.
Were it not for the hope that is September, I doubt I could survive August. Indeed, it is the foulest month – at least until February.
But for right now, I will happily, hungrily, wholeheartedly hate August.