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Slack Tide: Meditations on October

A Liver Awareness Month to remember.

By Geoff Kirsch

You know how I know it’s October? I’m wearing pants (at least in public). Also, it’s getting dark again, and I mean really dark, like Trent Reznor drinking espresso at a Tim Burton film festival. Although on the flipside, I’ve resumed soaking naked in the hot tub under cover of night. Suffice to say my neighbors got a breathtaking view of a lot more than just Mount Roberts this past summer.

With the arrival of October, naturally, comes a fair amount of indoor time (naked hot-tubbing aside). This leaves a body with plenty of opportunities for sitting and thinking… or at least entering search terms into Wikipedia. That’s like thinking.

Did you know October gets its name from the Latin “octo” meaning “eight?” Originally the eighth month in the 10-month ancient Roman calendar, October became the 10th month after the addition of July and August. So really, October should be December, which, according to some supermarket displays, it already is.

In the Southern Hemisphere, October is the seasonal equivalent of our April. In other words, October is April’s evil twin, much in the way La Croix is a Diet Coke addict’s methadone.

Encroaching dreariness aside, October experiences its fair share of observances.

Most notably, there’s Oktoberfest, but that’s actually celebrated in September for some reason, sort of like how “inflammable” actually means “easily set on fire.” And, of course, Halloween, which happens to fall on the very last day of National Dental Hygiene Month, so you can feel okay about letting your kids eat candy for breakfast the next morning.

But how many of you knew October was Vegetarian Awareness Month? You hear that, everybody? The vegetarians are out, and they’re hungry! So, beware!

But October is also American Archives Month, American Pharmacist Month, National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, National Dental Hygiene Month, Liver Awareness Month (you have a liver, just be aware) and National Infertility Awareness Month. This one bears special meaning for me; infertility runs in my family.

Sadly, we already missed Peat Cutting Monday in the Falkland Islands this past Oct. 1, as well as Mongolian National Tree Planting Day on Oct. 9. But don’t despair! There’s still 18 shopping days left until Earthquake Disaster Prevention Day in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

But wait, there’s more. Oct. 11 is Canadian Thanksgiving—I’m assuming they celebrate with some kind of metric turkey?—and October 12 is World Egg Day. Unfortunately, National Bacon Day is celebrated in September, traditionally the Saturday before Labor Day. Can’t we synch these up? That’d be a nice, safe bi-partisan issue to tackle (although, who am I kidding, the sausage and ham lobby is gonna be pissed, not to mention the VEGETARIANS… forget it).

Oct. 3-9, was the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. It was also Fire Prevention Week. As a wise man once said: “Only you can prevent forest fires.” And that man’s name was Smokey Bear. But on the other hand, another wise man once said: “We didn’t start the fire; it was always burning since the world’s been turning.” And that man’s name was Billy Joel. So, two differing viewpoints.

Coming up: Oct. 17 is National Fossil Day—be sure to send a card to Don Young—and, of course, October 18 is Alaska Day. I’m thinking about going as either William H. Seward or Sexy William H. Seward.

Naturally, October means postseason baseball, mid-season football and pumpkin-spice insanity. It also marks the onset of seasonal affective disorder, but then also brand new seasons of many of your favorite shows, so they cancel each other out.

“October” is also the second studio album by U2, if you’re into that sort of thing. And this month always makes me think of “Hunt For Red October,” starring a trim, young Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst Jack Ryan and Sean Connery as a Russian nuclear submarine captain with a Scottish accent. I’m telling you, if you do a Connery impression—and, quite frankly, who doesn’t?—you should study this film.

Anyway…

One last tidbit: October’s birthstones are tourmaline and opal, the latter once said to grant invisibility if wrapped in a fresh bay leaf and held in the hand. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. At least not yet. Although I think I’m starting to feel a little tingle… No, that’s just carpal tunnel. I’m still here. $%@#.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.

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