By Will Durst
Labor Day. The last plastic souvenir sports bottle of lemonade on the dying coals of summer. Not so much a festive celebration as a beacon for the halfway point between 4th of July and Thanksgiving. The spot on the calendar where fireworks switch to Jack-O-Lanterns. Hot dog relish to cranberries. Sweaty bangs and frozen nostril hairs.
Because our biological clocks are still running on elementary school time, the first Monday of September is noted mostly for being a transition. A blackboard trigger rekindling memories of that desultory trudge back to whatever scholastic institution we were assigned; a return to numbers and objectives and lockers and reading lists and hiding from the assistant principal who roamed the halls like two Dobermans in heat.
Much more nose to the grindstone and a lot less lazing in the summer breeze categorizing clouds according to arbitrarily designated scales of fluffitude. Stop playing catch with the simple round white ball and start passing oblong ochre inflated bladders. Put down the squirt gun and pick up the No. 2 pencil. The solstice is dead. Long live the equinox.
Check the spark plug on the snow blower and roll up the garden hose. Pull out the galoshes and stash the flip-flops. Pumpkin displaces watermelon as the seasonal flavor. Storms vs. screens. Tailgating vs. picnics. Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Southern California Trojans as opposed to the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For 120 years, Labor Day has been the runt of the holiday litter. Gets less respect than an usher at a Sammy Hagar concert. But red-headed stepchild or not, it is the most democratic of our celebratory respites. From New York’s mahogany paneled boardrooms to the green cement break rooms in warehouses of eastern Nevada; CEOs, marine biologists, mesmerists and forklift drivers, everyone connects on this one.
So, take advantage of this last chance to party in the long light. Wear a bathing suit and ice down a case of long necks while barbecuing a package of bratwurst. Because this ain’t no Chardonnay and Boeuf Bourguignon kind of day. As glamorous as the janitor with that special sawdust in the school cafeteria. The very definition of blue collar. To be perfectly honest, no collar required.
Just one day that we take off work to honor our jobs, which seems sort of oxymoronic, when you think about it. Like signing an ironclad pledge to be permanently flexible. Or parking in a bus lot. Honeymooning in the basement.
And for a depressingly increasing number of us, we’re celebrating having more than just one job. A month of Mondays might be more appropriate what with lean and mean being all the rage. Again.
But during this summer blowout, let’s not forget the real reason we take a labor holy day. To allow the real nine-to-five heroes to hang with their families for one extra shift before squaring their shoulders and getting back to the job of carving out this country’s future. The folks just trying to make ends meet, while raising 2.3 kids, juggling a mortgage, and hoping to cover the monthly cable bill with at least one premium channel thrown in. You know – me and you. OK. Mostly you.
Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist and comedian. Go to willdurst.com for info about his new one-man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” appearing at the Chicago Fringe Festival, Sept. 11- 13. Chicagofringe.org
Related story: Sammy Hagar hits Lake Tahoe with a ton of “Led.” LINK