Wednesday, November 09, 2011

COLUMN: Autumn

Fall is my favorite season. This is the statement I've made with confidence for years and years now. I just can't for the life of me figure out WHY.

First off, the concept of favorites eludes me. Well, I suppose there are some things in life that I can easily play favorites with. I have a favorite restaurant (D'alessandro's,) but in saying so I could hurt the feelings of Ross', my favorite DINER. I have a favorite band. In fact, I have ten or twelve of them, depending on the mood, season, time of day, and about 1800 other factors. I tell everyone that my favorite movie is "Dazed and Confused" in order to hide the fact that my REAL favorite movie is "Twister."

But some things just shouldn't have favorites. I have never understood, for instance, how a person could have a favorite color. Colors are just a part of life that I don't feel should be given preferential treatment. I'll accept that certain colors work well together in design, and I'm not so devoid of artistic emotion as to deny that certain colors can be awfully pretty. Still, I've never thought that one color is innately or inherently prettier than another. I've never been able to declare anything like "Ooh, I'm Team Blue!" or "I'm a Red Man, me!" To me, saying you have a favorite color makes as much sense as saying you have a favorite letter of the alphabet. They're just colors, man. Well, maybe except yellow. Yellow kinda sucks.

And to me, seasons are kinda like colors. Especially given the confines of the Midwest, we have to live the highs and lows of all four seasons, and there's pros and cons to each. There's nothing more magical than a snowy winter night… until you wake up the next morning and realize you have to stand in a -23 wind chill scraping an inch and a half of solid ice off your car window. Nothing's as life affirming as the first blossoms of spring… until they start spitting out asphyxiating pollen. The long days of summer are full of fun and excitement… except when the humidity starts making it actually painful to be outdoors.

I guess that's why I've always deferred to fall as my favorite season. There's not much to complain about when it comes to jacket weather and a bright crispness to the air. Still, though, I've been trying to think about all of the things that go hand-in-hand with fall, and as it turns out, I'm not exactly smitten with any of them:

• Pumpkins - They make for decent pies, I suppose -- but on the whole, they're kind of disgusting. Don't believe me? Cut one open and stick your hand inside and tell me I'm wrong. Pumpkins are slimy, sticky, seed-riddled weirdness that just happen to come in an aesthetically pleasing shell. I just wanna know who the first person was to pull out a stringy handful of pumpkin guts and go, "Mmm, I bet this is GOOD eatin'!"

• Haunted Houses - Wandering around in the dark trying not to get fake blood on your shirt while some kid half your age chases you amok with a plastic axe? And I'm paying money for this privilege? No thanks.

• Halloween - I've made my opinions on dressing up in costume time and again in this column, so I'll refrain from standing atop my soapbox yet again. Suffice to say, when you have social anxiety and a hard enough time making awkward small talk with near strangers, please don't complicate matters by dressing the strangers up as Chewbacca. My parent's photo albums are littered with snapshots of the various costumes they forced me into as a child -- and in every one, I look mere seconds from crying. What are you this Halloween, Little Shane? Sad Uncle Sam. Then next year I'll be a sad hobo. Then a sad ghost. The cycle had to stop, and that time was puberty.

• Cornucopia - Now this I might like… if I only knew what the heck it was. Pictures of cornucopia adorn most Thanksgiving decor, but has anyone actually seen a real one? As I recall from pictures, they're basically oversized Bugle chips full of random vegetables and fruits that I hate, right? So I think I'll take a pass…

• Leaves - That pretty much leaves… leaves. The essential symbol of fall. That magical time when trees shrivel up and die for the year and we're supposed to bask in the beauty of their death throes. Actually, I DO bask in their beauty -- fall really IS quite pretty. At least that's what I thought BEFORE I bought a house. As it turns out, leaves quickly lose their lustre when they start landing on YOUR lawn. And I've got a mammoth tree in my front yard that poops down leaves pretty much year-round. My professional raking career came to a halt last fall when I accidentally raked up a snake and almost peed myself, so nowadays I pay for the service, and it's just not cheap to be a lazy wuss these days.

Still, there are some inarguable wonders to fall. You can't beat a glass of apple cider. Indian corn might be the coolest thing I've ever seen. Long-sleeved shirts are comfy. Bonfires are romantic. The whole town has an awesome smell to it (especially now that you can't burn leaves, for which me and my allergies are eternally grateful.)

At the end of the day, I have no idea if fall's my favorite season or not. All I know is that it's a season of change, and forced change is never a bad thing when you need an occasional kick in the pants like me. Now, I'm off to go look at pretty leaves on and off trees. Except for the yellow ones. The yellow ones kinda suck.

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