McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Spring Forward, Fall Into Perpetual Darkness.
If you’re anything like me, you probably take a lot of medication.
This might be because you’re tired, bored, have too many children, or have run out of coffee. But for some, the changing of summer into fall, also known as the “Cornucopia of Sadness,” is a time of year that calls for an aggressive chemical lobotomy.
At the onset of fall you may notice a shifting of vegetation from vibrant green to yellow and brown hues before shriveling up in pain and falling to the ground. That is the effect of the cooler climate creating an environment so unsuitable for foliage that it slowly ceases to live and withers before your eyes, perishing over the course of a few weeks.
As our hemisphere turns away from the Sun, the air takes on a chill, and we begin to get a small taste of what life would be like if Earth rotated so far away that it spun aimlessly out into space, hurling through the dark and cold, without light or warmth, forever. Some cultures have theorized that this is nature’s way of reminding us, annually, that we are always on the precipice of utter emptiness and obliteration. Just something to ponder as you drive home from work in the dark.
With our furtherance from the Sun also come shorter days. A day still lasts twenty-four hours, but we spend more of those hours in total darkness. Want to use the extra darkness to sleep more? Too bad. You still have to continue to function as if the world isn’t ending. This will mean using a flashlight to walk to the bathroom in the morning and watching the sunset from your office window soon after you’ve had lunch.
In Europe, the word for fall is autumn, because it sounds fancier and is more likely to lead to sex. Autumn comes from the Latin autom, literally translated as, “all the nice things are dying all around you.” In ancient Greece, Atto was known as the god of waning pleasure and was responsible for summer’s end. In modern culture, the name Atto is still evoked in the face of poor weather, evasive orgasms, and that thing of when a restaurant is really great and then it changes management and the service starts to go downhill. By the sickle of Atto!!
At the end of the 18th century, some menfolk who wanted more time to play golf implemented the practice of Daylight Savings Time from spring until fall. This could have been adopted as a year round practice, but wasn’t, because our society is amused by the discomfort of those who require a certain amount of sunlight to want to continue to live. Also, extra daylight between Halloween and Easter is useless when you’re a simple hemp farmer. With slaves. I digress.
Many of us employ certain methods for dealing with this change.
Some turn to sports this time of year. Not the playing of sports- the watching of other people playing sports, whilst yelling and occasionally leaking the salty bodily fluid known as tears.
Parents send their children to school come fall because they’re too sad and tired to continue to look at their filthy faces all day while inventing forced craft projects.
Countless others wipe the dust off their slow cookers, unearth the goat intestines they have buried in the back yard, and get to work on a four day stew.
And still some find solace in maxing out their credit cards on yoga pants from Patagonia, which they will wear while grocery shopping and waiting in line at the DMV.
Another coping mechanism that we’ve readily embraced is the flavoring of many unrelated food items with the member of the gourd family commonly called “the pumpkin.” The pumpkin has become a symbol of fall because of its prominence in the annual Pagan celebration of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and also because of Charlie Brown.
But pumpkin flavored food is not, in fact, pumpkin flavored. It is actually pumpkin-pie flavored. Pumpkin pie is a common delicacy served at the second fall holiday, Where We Eat Starch and Ponder our Debt and Fight Day, also known as “Thanksgiving.”
For many Americans, the requirement of all things to taste like a specific type of pie made of a puréed gourd and sugar is a successful defense tactic against circadian disorientation. Why is there no Peach Spice Latté? Because when peaches are in season you can see your hand in front of your face at three in the afternoon.
If you are lucky enough to have natural immunity to the Cornucopia of Sadness, take it upon yourself to look out for your fellow tribe members straggling behind the pack. They can often be found napping in parked cars, alone at the movies on a Monday, or gently weeping in the Target bathroom.
If you come across one of these people, take them out for a taco supper. They probably need the protein. Then, when they get up to empty their bladder of the fourth margarita you’ve ordered them, drop ten milligrams of Lexapro in their drink (or Welbutrin or Zoloft- all of these drugs have the exact same effect on everyone). You will need to do this every day around the same time for about two weeks for it to really take effect.
When you confess your scheme to them two weeks later, their seratonin re-uptakers will be so well calibrated they won’t even be mad. They will probably thank you and offer to reimburse you for all the Lexapro, which will be good because it’s extremely expensive out-of-pocket due to unfettered capitalism.
HAPPY FALL, EVERYBODY!