Cruel Month

What is it about April, the month poet T.S. Eliot famously described as the “cruelest”? Schizophrenic weather and tax day might have something to do with it, but April is also prime time for some of the most angst-provoking national commemorations and “holidays.”

April is, for example, National Anxiety Month, according to an outfit called the National Anxiety Center, which gives out something called the Chicken Little Award.

The Anxiety Center seems far more concerned with supposedly over-hyped “liberal” issues like global warming than with the health consequences of frayed nerves – which means that they are a cause for anxiety, if you ask me.

More salubrious, perhaps, is the designation of April as Stress Awareness Month, sponsored by the Health Resource Network. Their site explains stress awareness month as a “national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.” That’s nice, but I think people are already pretty aware of their stress as they struggle with all those tax forms – when they’re not trying to decide how to dress for freezing rain.

August might be a better time to bring up stress awareness. Can’t relax, even while you’re sunning yourself on the beach? There’s a reason…

This is also Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. A good cause, to be sure, but why April? Maybe it has something to do with all those baby chicks and rabbits that are sold around Easter and presumably die shortly thereafter. That’s something to ponder while you’re biting the ears off your chocolate bunny.

April has certainly lived up to its cruel reputation when you consider the number of disastrous events that have occurred in this month. The Columbine massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1992 Los Angeles riots all took place in April, as did Lincoln’s assassination, the San Francisco earthquake, and the sinking of the Titanic.

April 15 is not just IRS appreciation day; it’s also Rubber Eraser Day. The origins of this day are lost in the mists of time, but the reason for it is clear enough. If you can fill out your tax return in pen, without first doing a draft in pencil, you’re living a simple life indeed. (I suppose it is actually April 17th this year, since the 15th falls on a weekend and the Feds therefore gave us a two-day grace period.)

April is National Poetry Month, which seems to make Eliot’s remark ironic. Or does it? I suppose it depends on your opinion of the state of modern poetry.

I could go on. Some of the more bizarre dedications include: April 6 is Sorry Charlie Day, dedicated to “those who have been rejected and lived through it.” April 11 is Eight-Track Tape Day. April 17 is National Cheeseball day. April 26th is Richter Scale Day.

And April 1st, of course, is a day dedicated to making a fool out of you.

Maybe the best thing about April is that it will soon be over. – Michael Gates

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