The Truth About August

Every August 1st, I think of my childhood friend, Hayley.

She used to have this saying: “Nothing good ever happens in August.”

Each summer during high school, whenever we’d invite her out to do stuff, she’d reply, “I can’t, it’s August.”

Regardless of the planned activity–and to be honest, it usually wasn’t all that thrilling, us being rural small town Oregonian teens–if it was happening in August, Hayley was O-U-T. We might not have fully understood her beliefs in this case. But fuck if we didn’t respect them.

Looking back, I can’t help thinking that there was a certain brilliance to this approach. Just like…choose a month, any month, and bluntly refuse to do stuff you don’t want to do. Blame it on the month. Peer pressure be damned.

The entire month of August was Hayley’s “get out of doing stuff” free card.

And now, it can be ours. For the low, low price of $0 fucks given. What a deal.

I can’t help but be impressed by this philosophy, even now. Because it is so simple and yet multi-purpose. She didn’t say “bad things always happen in August,” or “only bad things happen in August.” She said “nothing good ever happens in August.” There are so many layers to that. And while it’s possible that somewhere, someone has experienced something objectively “good” during the month of August…maybe not. Maybe it was just okay, after all. Because it happened in August. And nothing good ever happens in August.

Maybe we can take this divine, yet indefinite truth and use it to our advantage.

Is your novel on submission? Don’t worry about that right now. Because nothing good ever happens in August. (And publishing contracts take forever, anyway. So even if you did get an offer in August, you wouldn’t be able to announce it until like, October. #PubLife)

Don’t want to get COVID, but your so-called friends have turned out to be science deniers, and they won’t stop hassling you to join them for bottomless (and mask-free) Sunday brunch? No problem; tell them you can’t, because it’s August.

Did you attend a Black Lives Matter protest, because you’re a somewhat selfless person who wants to live in a society where certain people don’t have less rights than others based on the color of their skin, and can’t be randomly murdered by police (who then continue to harm innocent citizens, nearly consequence-free)? Good for you. Keep fighting for our fellow humans’ rights. But also, if the cops show up at your door and ask where you were this weekend, you can simply reply, “Probably at home, doing nothing, because it is August.”

Are you worried about sending your kids to school, because the U.S. pandemic response has been criminally mishandled at every level of governance, and it seems like lawmakers are willing to test out the reliability of a shady administration’s profit-driven best guess methodology using your little ones as guinea pigs? Maybe give them the month of August off, instead. Call it an emotional support month. Teachers can take it off too. After all, nothing good ever happens in August, anyway. Come to think of it, I can’t remember ever learning anything useful in August.

Random relatives pressuring you to travel and attend the annual family reunion? Sorry, Aunt Josephine. Can’t. August. Thoughts and prayers.

Maybe we’re wrong about August, Hayley and me. Maybe there are some good things that could theoretically happen, if we left our homes. If we did stuff, whether for the fun of it, or because we just got sick of being indoors. But then again, if we all stayed inside for the entire month of August, we might actually have a real chance of beating this whole COVID thing. Then we could get back to tackling all the other life-threatening and potentially world-ending issues. Like police brutality, systemic racism, white supremacy, gross economic inequality, and climate change. Maybe we’ll miss a few things. But really, the FOMO in this case isn’t worth fearing.

Because, seriously: nothing good ever happens in August.