The Cruelest Month

In an email this week, Renee said to me “April is the cruelest month”. I disagree (because, of course February is the cruelest month) but it made me think about assigning human characteristics to the months.  Or days (Monday’s child is full of grace….).  Or anything non-human.

I tend to appreciate this – I supposed because it’s a version of metaphor and I love metaphor. Here is one of my favorite passages in which the non-living becomes living (from Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I)”

“Town” was the local Saturday Mecca. A barren old maid of a place, aged and weathered by all the prevailing winds and shunned by prosperity. Years ago the Town with her rich dot of timber and her beautiful harbor was voted Miss Pacific Northwest of 1892 and became betrothed to a large railroad. Her happy founders immediately got busy and whipped up a trousseau of three-and four-story brick buildings, a huge and elaborate red stone courthouse, and sites and plans for enough industries to start her on a brilliant career.

Meanwhile all her inhabitants were industriously tatting themselves up large, befurbelowed Victorian houses in honor of the approaching wedding. Unfortunately almost on the eve of the ceremony the Town in one of her frequent fits of temper lashed her harbor to a froth, tossed a passing freighter up onto her main thorofare and planted seeds of doubt in the mind of her fiancé. Further investigation revealed that, in addition to her treacherous temper, she was raked by winds day and night, year in and year out, and had little available water. In the ensuing panic of 1893, her railroad lover dropped her like a hot potato and within a year or so was paying serious court to several more promising coast towns.

Poor little Town never recovered from the blow. She pulled down her blinds, pulled up her welcome mat and gave herself over to sorrow. Her main street became a dreary thing of empty buildings, pocked by falling bricks and tenanted only by rats and the wind. Her downtown street ends, instead of flourishing waterfront industries, gave birth to exquisite little swamps which changed from chartreuse to crimson to hazy purple with the seasons. Her hills, shorn of their youthful timber in preparation for a thriving residential district, lost their bloom and grew a covering of short crunchy grass which was always dry and always yellow—lemon in spring, golden in summer and fall. She wore her massive courthouse like an enormous brooch on a delicate bosom and the faded and peeling wedding houses grew clumsy and heavy with shrubbery and disappointment.

I also love commercials that depict non-human objects as having personalities. I really liked the Jimmy Dean sun commercials:

Did you ever name your stuffed animals as a child?

49 thoughts on “The Cruelest Month”

  1. I want to pick up on your reference to actors portraying non-human objects. Most of us remember Tootsie, where Dustin Hoffman’s agent bemoans the way his actor screwed up his role as a tomato. My favorite non-human actor portrayal is this series from Iberzi, a drug that claims it can tame “irritable bowel syndrome.” If you were an actor, would you enjoy playing the role of a dyspeptic lower colon? Actress Ilana Becker seized on this as a glorious opportunity:

    Liked by 1 person

        1. i had a friend who wanted to name his 3 goldfish but he couldn’t tell them apart so he named them all bruce.
          that satisfied him
          i smile every time i think of that

          Liked by 2 people

  2. **BSP** If anyone’s heading down to the Winona area on Saturday, I’ll be selling and signing copies of “Straight River” at Paperbacks & Pieces bookstore from 11-1.



    1. Oops, meant to add “I”d love to meet some more TBers.”

      I met Barbara in Rivertown and Linda (friend of PJs) a few weeks ago at Fair Trade Books in Red Wing. Got my total up to about 10 or so now. 🙂

      Chris in Owatonna

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes, forgot to mention that. Maybe we need to have a TB time warp where morning responders wait until noon to post and evening responders check in on their lunch breaks so we can trade witty bon mots faster. 😉



  3. I never had any stuffed animals. Not that I was deprived of them, I just don’t recall ever having any.
    We were so poor I couldn’t even have a stuffed animal… 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think I had one stuffed animal, a teddy bear, and I did not name it. It wasn’t very cuddly because it was scratchy, not soft.

    The twins, on the other hand, have lots of stuffed animals, many of which have names such as Big Bear and Little Bear. They play imaginative games with them.


  5. I don’t recall having any stuffed animals either. I had real animals.
    There’s a podcast featuring interviews with inanimate objects. It’s called “Everything is Alive”.


  6. The problem with giving names to the stuffed animals is it that does give them more life. And then it’s hard to get rid of them if you need to scale back. Why a was a huge stuffed animal fan when she was little. She never went anywhere without a stuffed animal. I brought her many from my travels until some of those are named for the places that they came from. Mykonos (pelican), Gibraltar (baboon), Cayman (turtle). Her very favorites were Tuesday a black lab, Lappin a big rabbit, and Rajah a great big soft tiger. Because they were her favorites and because they have names I haven’t been able to get rid of them even though she doesn’t have them in her room anymore


  7. Only one stuffed animal that I can remember. A bear with soft golden fur, but I never named him. He died on a funeral pyre in our back yard in Carbondale after his innards had become infested with termites. At least I think they were termites. Whatever they were, they were causing sawdust to spill out of tiny holes all over his body, and spraying with bug repellent only resulted in him becoming stinky and sticky. A final dousing with paint thinner and he went up in flames.


      1. strife
        expensive bristle fur german birthday and christmas gifts stayed pristine forever
        shelf animals
        never tempted to hug, they hurt


  8. I had no siblings, but I had lots of stuffed animals and they all had names. I remember Brownie the bear and a pink rabbit named Pinch. Son had a plush dinosaur he named Emily. Daughter had a large brown teddy named Morgan. I also had a doll named Lulu.


  9. The one stuffed animal I remember had the creative name of Lambie, and my sister had one named Doggie.

    Son Joel had Bunnyrabbit, and then there were some wonderful puppets – a squirrel named Cheeks and Rabbit (from Pooh) come to mind. I’m surprised I can’t remember a stuffed cat, but I guess we didn’t need one because Joel logged in a lot of time as a cat from about age 3-5 – I’d sewn a cat costume that could be lengthened as he grew. In preschool when they tried to see how many letters he recognized, he just said “Meow, meow…”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you would enjoy it. If you remember any of the Ma and Pa Kettle movies from years ago you will recognize some of the characters.


  10. When my daughter was little she had many stuffed toys, none of which had names. They just weren’t important to her. She fixated on a crocheted blanket (called “blankie”) and a doll (“Rainbow Brite”). They went wherever she went.

    Because my daughter destroyed her dolls, Rainbow Brite had a tragic life, ending up like the tortured toys in Toy Story 1. First to go was her iridescent clothing. Then she began losing limbs. She lost her body, becoming a skull, and then the skull lost its hair). With a shudder I remember trekking across a large parking lot on a torrid July day because my daughter had left Rainbow Brite in a movie theater and now she was going to implode if I didn’t go back to find the missing doll. Rainbow Brite, by that time, was a plastic piece of skull (hairless) the size of a business card.

    She acquired a teddy bear in her teens. “Oatmeal” slept with every night until she got married.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. OT – This afternoon a boy of about nine or so rang my doorbell. Turned out to be Marcus who apparently is a budding artist who lives in the neighborhood. He showed me a 14″ x 17″ watercolor painting and asked if I’d be interested in buying it. It’s an abstract piece, and in addition to some pretty watercolors he has used salt on it in some places to achieve a different effect. I told him I thought it was pretty interesting, and asked him what he wanted for it, and why he was selling it. He needed to raise some money, he said, and would take whatever I thought was fair. I gave him five dollars, but could tell from the look on his face that he had hoped for more. So I gave him another five bucks, and he seemed pleased. He then offered to rake the leaves in my yard, an offer I declined. He then pulled a long piece of turquoise yarn from his pocket. He had finger-knitted it into a chain, and offered it to me. I politely declined, but he insisted, saying “it’s for free.” I thanked him for this gift, and he happily biked off down the sidewalk.

    About ten minutes later my doorbell rang again, with some urgency this time. When I opened the door, there was Marcus, with an older sister who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen. Pointing to his sister Marcus said, could you please tell her that you bought my painting. I couldn’t believe it. Marcus had apparently gone home to report on his art sale, and either his mom or his sister had questioned the veracity of his story and took him back to our house to verify it. I thanked his sister for checking up on him, but assured her that I had, in fact, paid him ten dollars for the painting. Thank you, she said, and turning to Marcus her face lit up in a big smile, and she said “congratulations, you’ve finally sold your first piece of art.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m quite pleased with this turquoise yarn necklace that I’m wearing as I write this. Somehow it makes me think of Billy Collins’ poem The Laniard.

      Liked by 4 people

  12. I probably had names for some of the stuffed animals, but can’t remember much. I had a stuffed zebra that I think I called Zeeby. I did not have much imagination. I probably had a tendency to just name things what they were – Bunny or Puppy or Bear or whatever

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Here’s a David Suzuki quote I found on FB the other day that has metaphors in it:
    “The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity — then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.” ~ David Suzuki

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.