Leaves Azure and Gold–Awww Phooey! Gezundheit. I Hate the Fall!
I live in a New England state so regarded for its dramatic leaf changes that urbanites come from far and wide to witness it. We also have a lot of dumb spigots milking syrup from lots of dumb trees. If you pull over on any roadside in my state for any reason–flat tire, cigarette dropped in your lap, body dump, anything–you can bet your rusted leaf-loving ass someone’s going to sell you something made of maple syrup. When that happens, you’re on your own. Heck, I’ve just warned you so it’s your fault if you fall for it. Maple candles maybe. Maple bread or maple wine and you’re stretching it for me. But if you buy that maple case for your new iphone, well, buddy that’s on you. You fell for it. My advice: don’t fall for fall.
Fall is a season of moribundity-of nearing death–all dressed up by consumer culture to resemble some kind of party. Apple cider, pumpkin spiced lattes and Oktoberfest beer. It’s all a big dumb sham and it’s killing me.
Wait. There’s more. I used to love being a student. I loved it so much I arranged it so I could be a student professionally, for the rest of my working life. Fall is the season of going back to school. Kids go crazy for it. There’s backpacks to buy and pencils with furry googly eyed creatures where erasers used to be and jeans and lots of stuff and guess what? It’s all new for the fall! All new, every fall. Hmph. How convenient.
And how did all that stuff decide to replenish itself for this season in particular? Because fall is the Madmen of the seasons. The others don’t need promotional strategems. They sell themselves. Shit! It’s snowing. Welcome to winter. Hey the snow’s melting; we’re all going to live! Spring back into action. My god it’s beautiful out here. Summer needs no middleman. But fall?
Fall used to go around with a crew of toughs extorting money from local businesses. It speaks in slang with an accent and walks with a limp. It has a club foot, a hair lip, and a cocked eye. Fall threatened my family at gunpoint in 1977. There were witnesses. Some have gone missing.
But this isn’t just personal. Fall hates you too.
After commodity culture’s makeover, the hemispheric gang green that sets in when fall shows up is now something for us all to celebrate and get inspired by. Those bright colors aren’t imminent signs of botanical bucket-kicking. It just means we need to go bobbing for some apples. But wait. That was in the 1950s when everything wasn’t attached to some form of a purchase.
That was a time when, if you were an adult and wanted to go bike riding, you would just go. There was no special costume for you to go out and buy and then wear while you rode a bike–an outfit that tells the world, No, I’m not a landscaper late for work riding a bike in casual clothes like an alcoholic tramp, a kid, or a European, but an upstanding adult American citizen who properly rides a bike dressed as a melted crayon box in skin-tight spandex and who spent a nice wad on these threads, too.
That was back when you could just go hiking and all you needed was a will to do it and pepper spray in case of bears or Leaf Watchers from the city. If you wanted to walk with a stick, you would just pick one up along the way. That was part of the joy of it. These days, you need walking sticks and they’ll cost you. Only a respectable person carries name brand walking sticks. If not, others might mistake you for a heroin addict vagabonding in the woods, rousting the squirrels for a fix and threatening them with that stick you got–eek!–right off the ground! Not even Europeans do that anymore, do they? No, certainly not. They have respectable walking sticks now too. The good kind. The kind you buy.
And that’s the certificate of authenticity, right? That you paid for something. There’s an invisible receipt that your autumnal cycling outfit conveys to others, just like your walking sticks. It says I have a right to enjoy this natural splendor now. I’ve paid for it. There’s pumpkin beer in the fridge back home and my belly’s hot with squash flavored tea. My porch is covered with deformed phallic vegetables I’m not sure are even edible and I’m standing here with my walking stick and a cool camera I bought by the side of the road made entirely out of maple–I’m sure it works, even though the man who sold it to me was unshaven, like some drug-addicted vagabonding tramp who goes cycling in jeans–and now I’m going to enjoy all this dying–I mean fall–happening luxuriously about me. Fall is ready for its close-up Mr. Demille.
Fall smiles wide over that one. Look, you can see the caps and the ruby-rimmed grill shimmer in the twilight.