Labor Day. The Rodney Dangerfield of holidays. Nobody knows why it’s treated like the runt of the celebration litter. Maybe it has to something to do with our biological clocks being stuck on elementary school time. Deep down in our bones, we’re anticipating the first Monday of September pounding the final nail into the coffin of our vacation signaling a return to whatever scholastic institution we’ve been consigned to that semester. Making it as endearing as thunderheads on a picnic morning.
Labor Day. The last plastic souvenir sports bottle of lemonade on the dying coals of summer. The beginning of the end of the bright light and harbinger of the darkness. Swimming pools close. Ice cream trucks tie up their bells and convoy back into hibernation, And Dad suffers his last second degree hissing bubble burn from the BBQ grill for at least nine months. The dividing line between baseball’s endgame and football’s chrysalis from two- a- day drills into hardcore Bowl envy. The solstice is dead. Long live the autumnal equinox.
Labor Day. As a kid, I was too busy recoiling from the looming specter of the end of my freedom to pay much attention to the meaning or even the name of the holiday. One 24 hour period carved into the almanac to honor the American worker. Seems a bit of an archaic sentiment these days. A gesture almost as empty as the candy counter at a Cineplex after a Labor Day weekend Harry Potter festival, especially what with lean and mean being all the rage. And trust me, there is a lot of rage out there.
Labor Day. Now might be the perfect time to trot out that old chestnut that if it weren’t for the blue collars there wouldn’t be any white collars much less $4500 Brioni grey pinstripe merino wool suit collars. Without labor and the labor movement, we might still be nomads, camping on a frontier, boiling river water to wash down our nightly meal of beans and mush and roots and moss. Getting way too friendly with the livestock. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Labor Day Admittedly, not the sexiest holiday: There’s no fireworks to watch or ugly birds to cook or chocolate covered bunnies to steal marshmallows from. Just one Monday off for all those ordinary guys and gals trying to make ends meet; raising 2.3 kids, juggling a mortgage while trying to cover the monthly cable bill with at least one premium channel thrown in. The lifeblood of America’s body politic has always been its workforce, the people. (claimants before Judge Judy disincluded) I’m talking about real folks who don’t think “work ethic” is a dirty word. Or a dirty two words. Or whatever.
Labor Day. A calendaric conundrum. A day we celebrate what it is we do for a living by taking the day off from work. Paying tribute not to fancy movie stars or stodgy founding fathers or rich and bloated athletes, but us. The real American heroes. You and me. Okay, mostly you. But allow a guy who memorized his social security number at the age of twelve, wish you a happy Labor Day. Go out and buy a new notebook and a couple of pens. And a ruler. Nobody buys rulers anymore.