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BERRY: February gets no respect, and probably doesn't deserve any

• Mar 1, 2018 at 3:00 PM

If you ask anyone in West Michigan what their favorite month of the year is, few would say February. February is the doldrums of the calendar. It's the time of the year when you just sit there waiting for a gust of wind to fill your sails and carry you into March and April, when the weather is warmer, things are growing and it's light outside later than 5:30.

February is the month that all the other months bully and pick on. It's cold, dark, lifeless and short. Even when you add a day for leap year, it's still the shortest month of the year.

I can imagine March saying, "Hey, February, it's time for spring cleaning. Could you knock those cobwebs off the ceiling? Oh, I guess you can't. You're too short." And all the other months laugh in unison.

February is also hard to say and spell. I don't know anyone who pronounces February Feb-roo-ary. It is always Feb-yoo-ary. The "r" is silent. That makes it a nightmare to spell. If it wasn't for spell check, I would have spelled it three different ways (Febuary/Feburary/Febrary), and none of them would have been right.

The proper spelling doesn't really matter because nobody ever has much of a reason to spell February anyhow. February is denoted with a "2.” It's the second month of the year. Nobody remembers second.

Here's a quiz: (A) Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. Who was second? (B) George Washington was our first president. Who was second? (C) Charles Lindbergh was the first aviator to cross the Atlantic in a solo flight. Who was second? (D) Joe Namath was the first quarterback in the NFL to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. Who was second? (E) Adam West was the first Batman. Who was second?

As if giving up warm weather, daylight, and all manner of plants and animals wasn't enough, the Catholics plopped Lent in February. Now they have to give up something else they enjoy.

February is cruel and unforgiving. Probably because of all that teasing and bullying from the other months.

I have to give credit to our well-meaning forefathers who tried to punch some life into the bleak, stagnant, humdrum month of February. They gave February Groundhog's Day, which can also be a negative if the groundhog sees its shadow. Or if it doesn't. I can never remember which one signifies six more weeks of winter. Besides, I don't think a groundhog is any more qualified than a meteorologist to predict the weather, but it's close.

Presidents’ Day was given to February even though only four U.S. president's were born in that month: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison. And Harrison was only president for a month.

Being born in February explains why Washington, Lincoln and Harrison never smiled. Reagan smiled a lot, but he had dementia and probably couldn't remember his birthday. Nonetheless, I'm sure our former presidents are thrilled that their special day is celebrated with a big sale at a furniture store.

When I was a kid, we celebrated Abraham Lincoln's and George Washington's birthdays. We never celebrated Millard Fillmore's or Rutherford B. Hayes' birthdays. Until the onset of Presidents’ Day, I guess the disregarded presidents were satisfied just having a highway named after them. The mention of Fillmore and Hayes begs the question: Who names their kids Millard or Rutherford?

The Super Bowl used to be played on the last Sunday in January. I guess the NFL felt sorry for February because now the Super Bowl is played on the first Sunday in Month No. 2. Super Bowl Sunday is undoubtedly one of the highlights of February. It's a time when friends get together to watch commercials, drink beer and devour heaping mounds of guacamole.

The next morning, many of those commercial-watching, beer-guzzling, guacamole-chomping employees will call in sick. Super Bowl Monday gives employers another reason to dislike February. We can put a man on the moon, win a revolution, fly over the Atlantic, throw a football 4,000 yards and continue to support Batman movies even when the main character keeps changing, so why can't we move the Super Bowl to Saturday?

Arguably, the most important event in February is Valentine's Day. It is an obvious attempt to juice up those hibernating pheromones. And to also sell lots of candy, cards and flowers. This year on Valentine's Day, my wife and I worked, attended my daughter's basketball game, fed our children, and made sure their homework was done and their showers taken. After that, we flopped into bed and were sleeping within minutes.

The point of this column was to write about how much I love and appreciate my wife, Amy. I wanted to make up for our lame Valentine's Day by writing something sweet and heartfelt, but I got so indulgent on the introduction, I don't have any space left. 

Answers to quiz: (a) Buzz Aldrin, (b) John Adams, (c) Bert Hinkler, (d) Dan Fouts, (e) Michael Keaton. None of whom were born in February.

— By Grant Berry, Tribune community columnist

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