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Saturday, February 15, 2014

February Is the Cruelest Month

February 2014.   
            A nor’easter is churning the back bays and thrashing through the tree branches.  A robust 35-mph wind is singing in the electrical wires outside my bedroom window.  Migo, my dog, is buried beneath the covers.  Friends in PA, MD and NH are buried beneath snow and ice.
            But I guess I should be grateful that I woke up today.  I still have all my underwear.  I still have a roof over my head.  There are no parakeets in my oven.  My house has not been burgled. My car has not been stolen.
            Of course, the month isn’t over.  I still have a healthy respect for Murphy’s Law:
            Nothing is as easy as it looks.
            Everything takes longer than you think.
            Whatever can go wrong, will.

            All of the above happens to me in February.
            Actually, like its weather, February for me is really a month of extremes.  I met one of the loves of my life in February, at Cardinal Dougherty High School’s Valentine Dance.  Although we eventually went our separate ways, he probably saved my life that night:  the very next day I had the courage to break up with a very abusive young man.
            But February is also the month when my sisters and I awoke to discover we had no underwear.  I can still remember all of the Fox girls popping out of our bedrooms simultaneously and shrieking, “ Mo-om, I don’t have any underwear!”  My mother’s skepticism sent my sister Diane and I to check the laundry in the basement, where we discovered to our horror that the basement window had been broken and the door left ajar.  We learned later that a disturbed adolescent boy in the neighborhood had perpetrated his personal panty raid on all of the families with teenage girls.  But that was a small matter:  on that same day the following February, I didn’t even have a home!
            February brings nasty weather, blizzards, and other natural disasters.  I was 22 when my roommate (for whom I had innocently advertised in the Philadelphia Inquirer) decided to stop taking her medication and had a bipolar manifestation, which included her attempt to put my parakeet in the oven. While that incident eventually engendered my compassion for such illnesses, at the time I was only scared to death.  Yet, that same week, the CYO play I directed came in First Runner Up at the diocesan competition.  See what I mean about extremes?
            Because February – Valentine’s Day to be exact – is also when I was matched with my Little Sister, Rosie, through Big Sisters of Philadelphia.  Over 30 years later, we are still sisters (Happy Anniversary, Rosie!).
            Of course, February was the month when my house was burgled.  Lucky for me, Walnut, my German shepherd mix,  met the burglar at the top of the stairs and sent him out the back door.  With nothing to show for his effort but an obsolete pocket calculator.
            In an attempt to avoid the month’s cosmic mood swings, I have often vacationed in February.  Or tried to. I returned home one year to find my car had been stolen from the airport parking lot.  Then there was the year I decided to spend the entire month of February in Hawaii under the naïve assumption that the Furies wouldn’t find me there.  However, that January  I broke up with the man with whom I had made the plans.  Because both of us were too stubborn to forego the trip,  we spent a month in Hawaii barely speaking to each other.  Does that trump the February vacations I spent traveling with another boyfriend…and his mother?
            So, as I watch the trees throw fits outside my window, I accept the fact that, in February, nothing that happens will surprise me.
            Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will join Migo under the covers.  I am just grateful it's not a Leap Year!
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images:  "Car-maggedon"  coined by KYW newsradio broadcaster for 100-car pile-up on PA Turnpike 2/14/14)


  1. Mary, knowing all this makes me really happy I didn't accept a ride home with you on Tuesday night :)
    And, I learned another former connection I either didn't know or forgot--I also directed CYO plays ( for St. Ambrose.) I wonder if we're the ones who beat you that year?
    With your February history, I don't blame you for staying under the covers.

  2. Mary,

    Thank you for the laughs and for putting my own February blues in perspective. Thank God it's also the shortest month!!!

  3. Love this! Makes my life seem "normal".

    Julie V.

  4. Mary, I loved your post and how you're able to put all your February days in perspective with loads of humor. Funny how many of us have personal "worst" months - mine is January. I think it has something to do with the short, dark days and unhappy anniversaries. Under the covers is sometimes the best way to handle it, right Migo?

  5. Mary, It seems like bad ju ju follows you in February no matter where you are, so good luck with the half month that still lurks in your future.

    Funny that we remember the bad times so much more than the good ones. Perhaps it's because we survived them and can smile in retrospect.