The Anglo-Saxons called August ‘Weodmonath’, which meant ‘weed month’. I couldn’t agree more. If you've read my humor book, A Little Bit Sideways, you might be familiar with my ongoing battle against my evil nemesis—weeds. Especially those dinner-plate sized crabgrass monsters. Maybe August is their mating season, because, boy, do they multiply. Along with cock roaches, crabgrass will be among the organisms that survive an Extinction Level Event.
But I digress. The Romans gave us August, after Augustus Caesar, whose real name was Gaius Octavius Thurinus. Supposedly, the Roman Senate bestowed the title of ‘Augustus’, meaning ‘exalted one’ upon Gaius. The gossips at the time said he self-bestowed the moniker. Since his Uncle Julius had the month of July named for him, good old ‘Gus’ followed suit and named a month for himself, too. So, two-thousand years later, by using the name August, we’re still honoring a Roman emperor who left his wife for his mistress on the very day that wife gave birth to his only child, Julia. Eventually—and quite hypocritically—he banished Julia for cheating on her husband, and went to war against his brother-in-law, Mark Anthony. Granted, Antony had dumped Gus’s sister and taken up with the reportedly goddess-like and irresistible Cleopatra, but it was Antony’s quest for power that had really ticked off Gus. These were not great role models, unless you’re writing Game of Thrones plots.
Before all that mess, August was known as ‘Sextilis’—the sixth of ten months in the Roman calendar. It was invented by the not-so-genius King Romulus, who, for some reason (wanna bet it had much to do with wine?), left the winter season out of the whole shebang. Seriously. Ten months of either thirty or thirty-one days each left sixty-one unaccounted for days in the winter. I guess nobody had doctor’s appointments or social engagements then. Everyone just hung around home and survived until Martius (March), the official beginning of a year, finally arrived, and they could once again schedule debauchery parties, gory gladiator death spectaculars, and send out save-the-date-for-our-wedding cards again.
The Egyptians, Mayans, and Sumerians had calendars, too. All had issues trying to rectify a lunar year with a solar year. It involves boring details I’d have to study to understand. If I must study, I prefer it be for bringing forward far more useless and silly information. Plus the explanation will make all our eyes glaze over. With those calendars, though, a day or a week, or, at times, a month, would have to be inserted once in a while, but at least they didn’t just ignore sixty days like they didn’t exist.
But the Mayans take the top award for scaring the crud out of so many back in 2012. I take that back. The Mayans didn’t do it. Modern lunatics did. Convinced lots of folks that a fictional planet named Nibiru would collide with earth when the Mayan calendar ‘ran out’. NASA had to put out many notices refuting the baloney coming from Internet hoax sites.
Why would anyone purposely make up stuff to scare people? My guess is a small percentage of fiends do it for kicks. And the rest? Well, follow the money. What happens when panicked people think there will be a mass extinction? Those who can afford it will buy whatever’s offered to help them be the ones who survive. If you trace the survivalist equipment (doomsday prepper) ad purchasers on the bogus sites, I think you’ll find the real culprits.
It never stops surprising me that humans can be so gullible. If we get hit by a huge asteroid or a planet, and you survive it, trust me, you’ll wish you hadn’t. After your survivalist canned goods run out, you might have to find a way to cook crabgrass and cock roach stew.
I believe the only way to get through the slings and arrows life throws at all of us is to find the humor.