A Bitter November

Me (going into the kitchen and finding someone going through the fridge): Who’s there?

Strange Yet Oddly Familiar Person: It’s me, you idiot.

Me (peering to get a better look): … November? Is that you? What are you doing here?

November: Eating some of your leftovers. (Holds up Tupperware) Mind if I finish off your cranberry sauce?

Me: No, that’s fine. What I meant to say is that I thought you had already left.

November: What’s the date?

Me: Uh… November 29.

November: Right. I still have today and tomorrow, you know.

Me: I suppose you do.

November: Damn right I do. I have thirty days. Every year. It’s not like I’m February. (Sits, sullenly, to eat his leftovers.)

Me: I know. It’s just that after Thanksgiving, it feels like November should be over, you know?

November (bitterly): You think I don’t know that? You think I don’t know that as soon as people wrap foil over the turkey pickings and shove them in the ice box, they start looking at me like I missed some sort of important social clue? They start looking at the closet my jacket is in and then down at their wrists as if to say, whoa, look at the time.

Me: I’m sure they don’t mean anything by it.

November: And nobody actually wears wristwatches anymore! They all get their time from their cell phones. That’s what makes it extra demeaning.

Me: I don’t think everyone wants you out the door on Thursday evening. There’s Black Friday, after all.

November (rolls eyes): Oh, right. The “traditional start of holiday retail.” Holiday retail, dude. “Holiday” is just code, you know. For December.

Me: Code?

November: Friggin’ December, man. He was always pushy, you know. Always so entitled. Mr. “Oh, I have two major religious holidays every year.” Yeah, well, you know what? This year, I had Diwali. Okay? That’s a festival of lights, too. A billion people celebrate it. And that’s just the Hindus! I’m not even counting the Jains or the Sihks!

Me: I think that those cranberrys might have fermented on you.

November: Don’t patronize me, buddy. All I’m saying is December is not all that. I’ve got election day. I’ve got Veteran’s Day. I’ve got Thanksgiving. I’m the All-American month.

Me (as my cell phone buzzes): Hold on, I’m getting a text.

November: Who is it?

Me: It’s July. The text says, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if November was whining about something and was suddenly silenced BY AMERICA’S BIRTHDAY.”

November (holds up hands): You see? You see what I have to put up with?

(DOOR OPENS. DECEMBER bustles through, carrying packages)

December: Oh, man! You wouldn’t believe what kind of madness is out there in the stores these days. People are really getting into the holiday — Oh. November. Sorry, I didn’t see you there.

November: Of course you didn’t. God forbid you should acknowledge my existence, December.

December (to me): Did I come at a bad time?

Me: We’re having a bit of a moment, yes.

December: I can come back.

November: Yeah, in three days, you usurping bastard!

December: I’ll just go now.

(December leaves)

November: That’s right! Go! And take your crappy Christmas carols with you! (Breaks down weeping)

Me: Aw, come on, November. Don’t be like that.

November: I just want people to appreciate me, okay? For my entire stay. Is that too much to ask?

Me: No, I suppose it isn’t. I’m sorry, November. It was wrong of me.

November (sniffling): It’s all right. I know you weren’t trying to offend me. Anyway. I’ll just be going now. (Gets up)

Me: No, November. Sit down. Please. You can stay if you want.

November: Yeah? Really?

Me: Of course you can. You can even help me with some stuff around the house, if you want.

November (narrows eyes): You’re about to put up Christmas decorations, aren’t you.

Me (guiltily): Of course not.

84 Comments on “A Bitter November”

  1. Don’t worry, November, I’ll stick by you! My birthday is on the 30th, and if it weren’t for you I’d be stuck out in birthday limbo like the people born on February 29th. No offense, 2/29’ers. I wasn’t born in a suburb of December :)

  2. What if it (November) changed its name to, oh I don’t know, … Precember … or something like that? Would that help?

    No, I guess it wouldn’t.

    Well, listen, November. A lot of my favorite people have birthdays in you. I appreciate you. And at least you’re not April. Yard work and taxes? C’mon.

  3. Yeah, I had a similar discussion with my Fridge (her name is Martha). We discussed how much from November was frozen and still good and what had to go immediately. Then My favorite jelly glob that lives underneath the glass (where you can see but have to unplug and disassemble the entire shelving arrangement to clean) reminded me that Spring homemade jelly rules the roost.

  4. But November is now the proud sponsor of Movember, which is pretty cool. I can’t think of another time when it is ok to sport a fat bushy set of Handle bars at the office. November is gee golly gosh swell in my books.

  5. Black Friday is the kickoff for holiday retail? Maybe fifty years ago. Now stores have their holiday decorations and canned carols firmly in place by Nov. 1. Thanksgiving is no longer the kickoff to anything; it’s the halftime potty break.

    Another reason November gets no respect is the weather. Most of the fall color found in October is gone, but it’s not yet cold enough for consistent snow. November’s primary color is the brown of dead leaves.

  6. Jeff @7 : What if it (November) changed its name to, oh I don’t know, … Precember … or something like that? Would that help?
    We tried something like that during the French revolution. In the “revolutionary calendar”, Novembre was split between “Brumaire” (litterally, something like “mist-ember”, I guess), and “Frimaire” (Freezember ?). Didn’t help much, as a matter of fact.

  7. Maybe November would be appreciated more if it didn’t use archaic terms like “ice box.” An ice box is where you keep milk that was delivered in a glass bottle.

  8. First of all, I want to appologise for wrapping all the packages today..that was thoughtless. And then I must say as a former federal worker, I loved November…Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving off, plus the day after Thanksgiving, the public thought that we were closed and I actually got some paper work off the desk…So Thank You November…(oh, I also forgot to thank you for ending Daylight Savings Time too)

  9. November is somewhat old fashioned. I was not aware that anyone used the term “ice box” anymore. Maybe “quaint” is a better word.

    I have seen Christmas stuff hit the shelves the day after Halloween. October and November both get a bum rap every year.

  10. What? Halloween is on the last day of October? Oh yeah. Sorry November. You really got the short end of the stick on this one.

  11. November is hanging out with the wrong crowd. He should be among people who appreciate him. People who want him to stay around for as long as he can. People participating in NaNoWriMo.

  12. Loved it. This is the sort of off-center stuff that keeps thousands of people checking this blog every day.

  13. WHOA, November, SIT DOWN. Some of us desperately NEED these last two days to finish NaNoWriMo, okay?

  14. Did you hear somebody talking to John, December? I didn’t hear anybody talking. Nobody important, anyway.


  15. I love November–almost as much as October but not quite (ssshh, don’t tell November). November decently waits to get into holiday mode until a couple of days before said holiday, and the rest of the time we have beautiful autumn leaves, often very mild temperatures, and no pressure–we can just enjoy autumn. November is good that way. But that lousy no-good December seems to want to be All Holiday All The Time, and I HATE that holiday. If December would decently contain the holiday to its assigned two days, with dollops of good cheer up until New Years, I wouldn’t hate it. I might even feel like celebrating it. But it’s that guest who comes much too early, won’t shut up, and then passes out on the sofa snoring as the party is winding down. December used to be such a fine month until it sank into holiday addiction. Now I run screaming when I see it bearing down on me. November, won’t you stay a week or two and help me bar the door?

  16. You know, normal people, they describe something like this, and they get fitted for straitjackets. You get to write it up and call it work.

  17. das funny,

    checked calandar this morning. was a tad surprised it wasn’t december yet. sorry November, nothing personal.

  18. Dear November,

    Next year you get to take back your own! Due to the idiocies of humans trying to fit a circle into an ellipse an integer number of times, Hannukah (or however you care to spell it) will be visiting you next year. So you have something to look forward to! Also, I think you can be proud to be the month of NaNoWriMo, every year.


  19. I had an extended conversation this morning with my sleepy 5-year-old about how much longer it would be November and whether or not a new week would start when it became December, so this was both topical and amusing. It also makes me want to read a new Scalzi novel, though since it is not yet May I will have to content myself with re-reading what I have.

  20. Geez, November. First Leslie Nielson and then Irv Kerschner?! I can’t wait for December.

  21. Not having the holidays in November you describe here, I still enjoyed that piece a lot. It’s for things like this I read the whatever (okay – and for pictures of your cats too!).

  22. The local radio station I wake up to changed to an all Christmas-music format November 20th. (!) If you see November again, please pass along that I changed stations, and likely won’t change back even when they regain their senses. Of course at the time i just thought it was too much to take, but now it can also be a protest in support of poor, unappreciated November.

  23. Thanks for the smile!

    I’d love November to stick around – I have a book due back to my agent in early December. And I’m not near ready for holiday stuff. So, please, November, don’t go yet!

  24. November can hang around as long it wants in my house: My birthday is the last day of November, and I’m old enough to want to put birthdays off as long as possible.

  25. November also has the Marine Corps Birthday. Only important to some of us, though, and our wives and/or dates, ’cause of the Ball.

  26. Marc @30: some people are just never satisfied, you know? If you pointed that out to November it’d probably just sit around being all emo. “Oh sure, like anybody listens to Art of Noise anymore. And December gets CAROLERS. Does anybody go door-to-door singing about Thanksgiving? No.”

  27. *laugh* I love your mind!

    I’m one of those (evidently rare) people who thought The Android’s Dream was much better than Old Man’s War. The Android’s Dream feels like Jasper Fforde, and Old Man’s War feels like Heinlein. I adore Heinlein, don’t get me wrong, but Fforde seems like a more natural fit for you.

    In other words, you’re a weirdo, and I like that about you. :-)

  28. Mythago @47: Now I want to go door-to-door with a small group singing “Opus 4” for my neighbors next November.

  29. Read Little Women?
    “November is the most disagreeable month.”
    “That’s why I was born in it.” – Jo

  30. At least American November is offering you up a two day holiday. Canadian November only gives out a ‘fake’ holiday, though it’s Remembrance Day thus a rather valuable day (but only banks get the entire day off for reflection). Plus it has my birthday, which for some reason isn’t celebrated as a holiday yet. But all in all, American November seems to be a little more giving than the seemingly longer and colder Canadian edition. Plus I think Canadian November swapped my Ego this morning.

  31. C’mon folks.

    No-vember is obviously a No-man. We need to get them to a Yes-man seminar and make it Yes-vember!!!!

    (Too many Yes Man reruns.)

  32. This is the other side of the coin of “November in the Chair” – excellent!

    Much enjoyed :)

  33. Wait? Two major religious holidays in December?

    (Counts on fingers.) I make it three. Which one did you leave out, Solstice, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah?

    Jack Tingle
    (Darting under the mistletoe.)

  34. Kwanzaa isn’t a religious holiday, except indirectly. It’s a cultural festival. Solstice, as a celebration by Wiccans and/or other pagans and/or whomever, doesn’t have the same cultural gravity or in the US the number of celebrants as Hanukkah or Christmas.

    Bear in mind this is not to suggest Solstice is not important or not a major event for those who celebrate it, nor that it is not deserving of equal respect to other seasonal religious celebrations. Merely that the overall cultural awareness of it as a religious holiday (and commensurate economic appropriation of it) in the US isn’t there.

  35. May, here. November, I’m really sick of you whining. You know what I got? Friggin’ May Day! That’s right. Until the last Monday in May, I’m “Mr. Commie Month.” Only when Memorial day rolls around do I get a break. And even then, June starts hogging all the spotlight. And I can’t even catch a break with Mother’s Day. “What’s that, May? Another Hallmark holiday? Har har har!”

    You know what else I got? May 6. Anniversary of the Hindenburg falling down and going boom. So I’ve got commies wanting a day off and BBQ’d Nazis and an excuse to burn breakfast for Mom.

    But do you hear me whining? Nooooooo!!!!

    So stick it, November. At least you’re not August.

  36. October has Halloween, but November has the Day of All Saints, or the Feast of All Saints if you have leftover Halloween candy. Point, November.

  37. Now I know the secret of your writing… you have MPD!! (multiple personality disorder)… all you do is start a conversation with one of the other “yous” running around in your head. Pretty handy for writing a story with many diverse characters but can quite burdensome if an “alien” takes up permanent residence.. or, has that already happened?!

  38. When I was a little kid, I read a book of Russian fairy tales (though that name is a bit of a misnomer). One of the stories involved all twelve months, personified and frankly a little irritable.

    My birthday is in January, so last year I wrote a story about a personified January as a birthday present for my friends. I’ve seen the conceit used a few times since. Someone should put a little collection together with a tale for every month. It’d be a weird little chapbook. I like weird.

  39. November does have the best food ever though. There may not be presents, but there’s turkey and stuffing and leftovers. No other month has that. And pie. Pie makes November special.

  40. November owns (both now and forever) the most significant annual event on the face of the planet. November is the time when The Game is played.

    Now, please bow you heads and join me in the Coach’s Prayer:
    Our Woody, who art in heaven
    hallow be they name.
    Thy will be done
    on 1st and run
    in Ohio stadium as in heaven.

  41. Ahahahah!! Oh lord, it’s probably not that funny but I just laughed and laughed. Well done, Scalzi. Well done.

  42. If you think November is whiny this year, wait til next year… The 30th falls on a Wednesday, so one more day of feeling superfluous and unloved.

  43. Ruth @38 – I know the feeling! My coworker, who likes to stream music during the day, asked yesterday whether it was too early to start into the holiday music. I politely asked her to wait until Wednesday so then at least it would be December.

    This holiday bleed backwards drives me crazy every year – especially when I start seeing Christmas stuff around Labour Day.

  44. Man, no-one argues with November over here in Britain.

    Over here, November’s the dude that gets to play with the explosives…

  45. I’m reminded of how very long it took me to get the pun in this little verse of Willard R. Espy’s:

    You swore that you would love me
    Until the seas ran dry, dear
    You knew you never loved me
    Oh why, oh why JULY dear?

    For years I read this as addressed to “July”, either a person or the month itself.

  46. *grins* This had me thinking about the angry turkey. Mad turkey? He had a name; I’ve forgotten it. AWESOME TURKEY. That was it.

  47. Such a wonderful short story. I’m so glad you have this blog, you save my sanity on a regular basis.

  48. … Is it wrong that after reading that I was immediately concerned about the inevitability of slash fiction involving the non corporeal personalities of month?

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