The unhappiest phrase I read all year, is “Happy New Year,” in a thousand emails from people who supposedly mean well.
God almighty, I even catch myself writing it myself—still, on January 17.
It’s called a new year, but what it is, is a new January, and there’s nothing happy about it. Because January is the Monday of the year. Proportionately speaking, it’s two Mondays. Experientially, it’s 31 Mondays. (With the subsequent promise of 28 Tuesdays, 31 Wednesdays and 30 Thursdays before we see the Chicago sun again.)
Pipe-bursting, gray-skied, hopeless wintry-mix Mondays during which everyone you meet is like the raspy, sick-eyed, gray-skinned guy who works at CarX and looks like he has congestive heart failure and when you ask how he’s doing and he always drones, “Livin’ the dream.”
January is a greeting card from Kierkegaard. January is two Newarks. January is a shit sandwich on moldy bread. January is the kind of month that’s brightened up considerably by a root canal. January even sounds cold, and the only pleasure most of us can find it it is to watch professional football players drive each other into the frozen ground.
January is so joyless that some people don’t even mind not drinking during it. “Dry” is the least of January’s problems, and alcohol doesn’t even cut January. “Drinking more,” a friend reported to me one January, “and enjoying it less.”
Of course, lots of assholes say “Happy Monday,” too. That’s offered either ironically, or with toxic positivity—gallows humor or forced cheer. You can’t tell on email, and no one would ever say a thing that egregious to your face.
Let’s skip “Happy New Year,” and quit “Happy Monday” while we’re at it.
We’re just making each other feel worse than we already do, which is really saying something.