No one is quite sure where November went. We?ve checked under the stairs, the closet in the guest room and, of course, the attic where I was sure I had heard it padding around at night but, alas, there?s no sign of it. Or at least the first half of it. I remember the end of October ? taking out the jack o?lanterns, one under each arm, and remarking to myself that this must be how the executioner?s apprentice felt, taking out the trash after work.
That, I reckon, must have been the first of the month. Maybe the second. Now, it?s the 16th. Somehow, two weeks have evaporated in an autumnal fog. (Note to self, ?Autumnal Fog,? could be an aftershave or a cocktail. Perhaps both.) No matter how I try to live in the moment, the moment seems to get away from me, like a grand grey kitty, wending through my legs as I fail to pet it. Or the name of that symphony on the radio. After patiently waiting for the DJ to identify an obscure piece that?s had me rapt for half an hour, a bump in the road, a car horn or (usually) my wife demands my attention right when the composer?s name is uttered.
The DJs at classical stations, as a rule, are quiet talkers. This makes particular demands on one?s ears when they?re pronouncing the names of dead composers, from Eastern Bloc countries, with all those goddamn sibilant S?s. They sound like librarians telling dirty jokes. S-s-s-s! and Sh-sh-sh! It?s maddening.
Perhaps that?s where the first half of November went. It?s in the library?s lost and found, with the forsaken travel mugs, hair clips and solar-powered calculators. The right kind of evil genius could use these items to make a long distance call or something. Actually, no. You can?t do anything with half of November. It?s like a torn dollar bill. You need at least two-thirds to make your case.
Or at least that?s what the barista says. And she would know because she?s an economics major. If I wasn?t intimidated by her relative youth and homemade haircut I?d tell her that, as an economics major, she might?ve realized that she?s accruing student loan debt at a rate that she?ll never pay off with her coffee job, which, in this economy, is the only job she?ll ever get.
Instead, I use my debit card. Like I always do. This is why my November bank statement will be nine feet of $2 charges. Is there a chance I put the first half of November in the bank? Saving it for a rainy day ? or a rainy two weeks? Will it accrue interest? At 0.01 percent on savings, what would that be? An extra minute or two? Just enough time to reflect on what a crappy interest rate that is? I could ask the barista, but she scowled with such vigor and conviction when I put a 50-cent refill on that debit card that I nearly fell in love with her.
Better stay put. She?s the kind of woman who can absorb weeks of your life with a few well-deployed glances. Like Medusa for calendars. Wait, is that what happened to the first weeks of November? Were they lost when catching the eye of some Time Temptress? Leaving nary a trace, sans a whiff of Autumnal Fog in its wake …
It?s not worth thinking about. That?s how they get you. You catch a notion and it starts working on you. And idle contemplation turns into daydreaming. And daydreaming seldom lasts a day. In some cases it can last for weeks.
And before you know it, it?s December.