Here Comes the Sun (Didn't It Just Leave?)

May 21 - Maybe this has happened to you: you're at home, getting ready for a night on the town. You're freshly showered, shaved, coiffed, powdered, and sprayed. You're wearing the most flattering clothes you own. You glance at yourself in the mirror on the way out the door and think, "Damn, but I'm a fine-looking human!"

On your way to wherever it is you're going—that hot date, that charity ball, that grand jury indictment—you stop at a twenty-four hour convenience store to pick up some last minute trifle—breath mints, say, or a bobble-head troll—and as you're leaving the store you catch a look at yourself in the mirror.

In the unforgiving light you look haggard and decrepit, a washed-out and sickly version of yourself. Your hair is a wreck and your clothes don't fit as well as you thought. You missed a spot shaving or your mascara's all gloopy. The bubble of your vanity bursts with an almost audible pop.

Of course, this hasn't happened to me—I may be a moron, but I'm a damn fine-looking moron every hour of every day—but, as I say, it may have happened to you.

I mention it because it's analagous to some realizations I'm making about Denmark.

Danish design is celebrated around the world for its bold look, its quality workmanship, and its exorbitant price. Nearly every aspect of Danish life reflects this cultural commitment to aesthetics. I now believe I know why.

For three mornings in a row I have been awakened at a little after four o'clock in the morning. I have been awakened by light coming into our bedroom. The light isn't the product of some wayward firefly or itinerant bonfire, but the sun itself, casting its premature rays into the Danish sky at that ungodly hour of the morning. I can't fall back asleep after being awakened by sunlight, muted as it may be, so I get up and go about my day and by early evening I'm ready for bed. I tuck myself in, pick up the book I'm reading (The Wealth of Nations, surely a cure for insomnia), and am unable to fall asleep until the last light of day is extinguished—at about 11:00.

It's simple light-based insomnia (and probably has a really cool scientific name) and I'm guessing it afflicts a lot of visitors to Scandinavia. I'll get over it. (At least I hope I'll get over it; there won't be less daylight than there is today for about two more months.)

Naturally, the situation is reversed in the winter: instead of virtually endless days, you have virtually endless nights.

Danish design should suddenly make perfect sense to anyone who understood my first couple of paragraphs. This is a culture that spends months in ambiguous darkness before being thrust into months of unforgiving light. Every spring, every Dane is forced to see his or her entire life in the bright light of day—for about twenty hours a day.

It had better look good.

* * *

A quick editorial note: yes, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my index page, but I'm also going to begin responding to questions and letters here in the Almanac/Blog itself.

It's been brought to my attention by a reader in Melbourne, for example, that Australia's National Wattle Day (on September 1) has been left out of my holiday listings. I can't believe I overlooked anything involving Wattles, and apologize to all Aussie readers.

He also noted that my listing of May 22 as Australian Flag Day was "skew whiff." I assume it means that May 22 is not Flag Day in Australia, so I will procrastinate about making that change, too. And I'm going to start saying "skew whiff" myself because it sounds vaguely nautical and contemptuously dismissive, like the New England town I grew up in.

I've got a bunch of other backlogged questions and emails and will try to squeeze them in here from time to time.

* * *

It was on this date in 1471 that King Henry VI of England was murdered in the Tower of London, concluding Part III of his reign. Edward IV assumed the throne as the world eagerly awaited Richard III and the dramatic conclusion of the War of the Roses.

Mr. T turns 51 today. He shares his birthday with Raymond Burr (1917), Harold Robbins (1916), Fats Waller (1904), and Alexander Pope (1688). It's Battle of Iquique Day in Chile and Napoleon's Death Day in St. Helena.

Happy Wednesday.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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