ODE ON AN ODIOUS MONTH
TS Eliot said that April is the cruelest month.
And most of us would agree that February is the coldest.
But March is definitely the longest -- at least here in the Midwest.
I know this because on yet another dank, sunless day, my usually chipper yoga students will complain about the cold and snow -- again -- and ask why they have no energy.
"Because it's March," I tell them. "There’s no sun."
And as the month draws to a blustery, dark close, the students who aren’t out sick will start saying some very non-yogic things -- like "I hate March" and "Will this effing month never end?"
I see their point. They made it through February and are waiting for their reward. But this is Chicago. There is no reward.
It doesn’t matter whether March comes in like a lion or a lamb or some other Biblical creature. Because it always sticks around like a leech.
In March the average temperature in Chicago is 37 degrees, and 18 of the month’s 31 days are cloudy -- second only to December’s 19. And this year March began with Mother Nature dropping a bomb of snow on the city.
Sure, the first day of spring was on the 21st. But no one noticed.
And yes, there is always a day or two when the sun comes out and the temperature hovers near 50 and fratboys don shorts and blind us with their fat white winter legs.
The next day it will snow, of course, and the shorts and spring jackets will go back into storage (the baseball caps stay out of course).
But in March the snow never sticks around long enough to look pretty. Instead it stays just long enough to mix with the salt and dirt and turn the entire city an even more depressing shade of gray.
March is like a relationship that’s on its last legs but won’t give up the ghost. Both partners are compelled to flog it to death until the bitter end, making themselves and everyone around them completely miserable.
A week later the sun will come out again -- kind of like a wayward lover promising to do better. And he does for a day. And then goes back to his irritating old tricks.
Is it any coincidence that the third month inspired the terms Mad as a March Hare and March Madness? That last term isn’t about basketball -- it’s about losing it during a winter that never ends. This year alone sets a new record for random acts of insanity. On March 12 Brian Nichols killed three people outside an Atlanta courthouse. The next day Terry Ratzmann opened fire at Living Church of God in suburban Milwaukee, killing seven. On March 21, Red Lake High School student Jeff Weise killed ten people, including himself. Two days later a man opened fire at a plumbing store in Arlington Heights, Illinois (he missed). And on the 24th, Rockford, Illinois’ Michael W. Mitchell brandished a box cutter and tried to steal a gun from a store in Florida, so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo." (At least the Midwest is well represented here).
In early Roman times March was the first month of year, named for Mars -- the god of war -- and was actually designated "the time for resumption of war" (which apparently still holds true, seeing as how the US invaded Iraq two Marches ago).
Mostly, though, March just befuddles people -- like the woman with the $300 haircut who walked past me at Jewel grocery store the other day, wearing a flowered rayon skirt, stylish pink jacket ... and salt-covered winter boots.
Like me, she was sick and tired of wearing the same old down jacket and corduroy jeans.
So maybe I’ll defy the weather, too, and break out the miniskirt and combat boots.
After all, the cruelest month is just around the corner.