Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day

JenniferLast year Groundhog Day passed more or less unnoticed by me; this year, I had thought to describe the peculiar custom. It turned out to be a busy day, though, and I didn't get a chance to bring it up. But I watched the ceremony on my computer live via a webcast, and recorded part of it. As my officemate S. was on his way out, I stopped him.

"You know, it's Groundhog Day," I said.
"Oh?" he said.
"Yes," I said.
"It's real?" he said.

I played for him the climax of the ceremony, in which a fine fat specimen of Marmota monax is brought out, held up to receive the accolades of the thousands who are chanting his name, and then put down onto his sacred stump to snuffle around for his shadow before whispering to his tuxedo-clad oracle which scroll to choose, and thereby deciding whether winter is over yet.

S. at the screen, speechless. "He's more than a hundred years old," I said. "This is Punxsutawney Phil, the original Groundhog, you know. They give him a potion every summer that prolongs his life force."

S. stared at me. I stared back, doing my best to maintain a poker face. But he beat me, I confess, and I started to giggle and had to look away first. We agreed that the whole thing is, well, somewhat Lovecraftian.

"But it's real?" he said again. He had seen the movie, and he had thought that the holiday had been invented solely for the movie, as a way to make fun of a holiday without offending anyone. Nope, it's real, I said. Complete with souvenirs.

S. stared again at the screen, which had been stopped on a frame of Phil leering evilly over the shoulder of one of his Inner Circle. "Don't have nightmares," I said. "Best stop thinking about groundhogs entirely. Just put them right out of your mind."

"Oh, that's great, telling me not to think about them!" he said. "I think I am glad that there are no groundhogs in Sweden."

No comments:

Post a Comment