This post originally ran in 2016, but we like to re-post it again every few years when fall rolls around just to remind everyone about the points it makes. And also so Brian gets yelled at again a little bit for this ridiculous take. So, two reasons, really.
October is bad. There, I said it. I feel great about it, too. It’s almost liberating, really. I think… you know what? I’m going to say it again. October is bad. Okay, now let’s do one with italics. October is bad. Oooh. I liked that. That one felt good. I could ride the high I felt from that for hours. Days, maybe. It’s just so clean and pure.
And it feels even better because I hold so few of these kinds of blistering contrarian takes. I’m usually a very calm, reasonable person, to the degree that I can be occasionally infuriating to talk to. (“Ugh, can you even believe what this idiot said?” “Eh, doesn’t seem that bad.” “What do you mean, ‘eh’?”) In fact, now that I think about it, I really only have three major opinions that you could even classify as hot takes:
- You should put ketchup on your hot dog if you want to, regardless of what various food dorks say, because it is your hot dog and you should put anything on it that makes you happy
- The ocean is bad and is not to be trifled with by anyone who doesn’t have a faded tattoo of an anchor on their forearm
- October is bad
That’s it. So when I actually get to rear back and let one fly — something I truly believe, deeply, in my bones — it feels freeing, like I’m soaring through the air.
This isn’t the first time I’ve gone on my anti-October crusade, either. Once upon a time, I ranked the months of the year and slotted October in at number 10, ahead of only January and February. People still yell at me about that sometimes. That’s okay, though. People yelled at Galileo, too. But did Galileo back down? No! He kept speaking truth to power. (“The sun is the center of the solar system. Do not @ me.” — Galileo.) And that is what I will do here. Speak truth to power, just like Galileo. Exactly like Galileo. Except for the part where he went to prison instead of recanting. I will recant before this gets that far. I will super recant, assuming “super recanting” is a thing that exists. October is bad, sure. But prison is worse. I will give October that and that only.
Okay, here’s what we’re going to do: To prove that this is a real stance backed by hard evidence, and not just the rantings of some lunatic (they are definitely that, too, but not just that), let’s take all of your pro-October arguments and shoot them down one by one.
“Ah, the crisp Autumn air. Finally, a reprieve from the unbearable heat of summer. Time to break out the sweaters and windbreakers and head outside to enjoy this beautiful day.”
Well, two things about that. First of all, no, you will probably not enjoy the day very much, because October is that fun time of year when the temperature can range from the high 30s in the morning and evening to the mid-70s in the afternoon sun, making it impossible to dress appropriately. That sweater you were so excited about wearing outside on a brisk morning? Now it’s a suffocating sweat cocoon and you either need to grin and bear it or take it off and carry it around with you like some sweater-carrying weirdo, hoping that your undershirt hasn’t already developed the sort of sweat stain pattern that will make it look like an old treasure map.
And none of this even gets to the “Hey, do I need a jacket? Should I bring a jacket? What do you guys think? Jacket?” conversation that you will have 400 times during the month without ever making the correct decision, somehow.
Number two, even if I give you weather thing (which I will not), you can still get almost exactly the same weather conditions in April. April is better than October because April represents the first signs of life after another long, cold, dark winter. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, people are emerging from their disgusting pseudo-hibernation hermit lifestyles to let the sunshine kiss their skin. This is good. It’s practically life-affirming. Which brings us to strike two against October.
“Oh, but I love to watch the leaves change colors.”
That is the first step of the leaves losing their lives. The fresh, healthy greens turn to more rigid reds and yellows, followed shortly after by the piles of crunchy, goopy browns that you curse as you scoop out of your gutters. What looks like a pretty postcard is actually the annual mass death of millions of livings things, many of which you will be forced to clean up like some sort of amateur coroner.
“But it’s so pretty!”
Okay, admittedly I took that a bit too far. But October is still a very depressing month. The days start getting noticeably shorter by the second week, and by the end of the month the sun is setting at 6:00 PM. It’s the first step toward the barren wasteland of winter, and it doesn’t even have the decency to have a real holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas associated with it. Halloween doesn’t count. Any holiday that both encourages creepy clown activity and doesn’t include days off of work is a bad holiday.
“What about pumpkins, though?”
Pumpkins are not that great, in standard form, and most of the “pumpkin” things you like are actually “pumpkin pie” flavored. There’s no actual pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte, for example. It’s just a regular coffee with a few handfuls of nutmeg. There’s nothing stopping Starbucks from giving you that year-round. They have the stuff in a warehouse, somewhere. Be angry at them about this, not me.
“Yeah, but that’s just the way th-…”
And that brings me to my next point: Most of the things you like about October don’t need to be “October things.” Like, the baseball playoffs and the beginning of football? We can just adjust the schedule. It’s not even that hard. We can run football from February through June. And baseball… I love baseball. I do. But we could cut 40 games out of the middle of the season and it would be fine. It would be fine. End the whole thing in mid-September. The purists would scream about it, but the purists are going to be screaming about something anyway. (“There are two many relievers these days! Pitchers used to stay in the game until their shoulders shredded apart like BBQ pork and everyone loved it!”) Might as well give them some ammo.
“Yeah, but what abou-…”
Wrong! Because of politics! Every two years we go through the process of electing new public officials and it turns the whole country into a cesspool. Especially during October, and especially if you live in a politically important swing state, like, say, Pennsylvania, where I live. Everyone commercial break in every damn Eagles game is wall-to-wall attack ads. Like five in a row, all with a scary-voiced man explaining who is and is not an apparent supervillain who is hellbent on ruining America. It’s unbearable. Give me 1000 consecutive 1-877-KARS4KIDS ads instead.
And social media is even worse. I mean, have you been on social media lately? It’s a sea of bad opinions. More than it usually is. You can’t post a simple picture of your dinner without igniting a flame war. (“That burger looks good, too bad you won’t be able to eat it anymore once THE LIBS MAKE VEGANISM THE LAW.”) It’s all completely, hopelessly out of hand. I’m just trying to eat and watch football. Please leave me alone.
And yet, every fall, I have to listen to people “ooo” and “ahh” about October and what a magical time it is, despite the cold, hard facts that prove otherwise. Open your eyes, people. Look around. Be honest with yourselves. And then, once you’ve done that, take a deep breath and say it with me…
October is bad.