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On the Day After Labor Day

Today is the day after Labor Day, and it’s supposed to be very different from last Tuesday. According to the authoritative folklore the lazy, hazy days of summers are now officially over, no matter what the thermometer might say, and all sorts of new rules are suddenly in place.
White shoes and straw hats, for instance, are now a fashion faux pas until Easter. The part about white shoes is of little consequence to us, as we switched to the black Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars as year-round footwear long ago, but the straw hat thing is going to be more problematic. Around here the thermometer is still reaching three digits, and this might yet prove one of those summers that stretches into the Kansas State Fair and the big acoustic music festival down in Winfield, in which case the wool driving cap we favor in the fall and winter months would surely fry our brain, and our good friend “Hatman” Jack Kellogg, proprietor of Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works over in the nearby Delano neighborhood, gave us a great deal last spring on a very handsome Panama fedora that often fetches compliments from pretty young women, so we’ll probably defy the fashion rules for another few weeks or so. Nobody around here pays any attention to the fashion rules anyway, and at least we can console our conservative heart that we’ll continue to put on a coat and tie for any funerals or weddings we have to attend.
Another rule, more recently enacted, is that football season is now fully underway. There’s nothing we can do about that, but it won’t divert our attention from the more pressing matter of baseball. Our beloved Wichita Wignuts clinched an American Association division title and playoff spot even before they defeated the Grand Prairie Airhogs by a score of 4-2 on Labor Day, with us and our beloved Dad in attendance at the historic Lawrence-Dumont Ballpark, and a New York Yankees’ victory and a Toronto Blue Jays’ loss leave our beloved Yanks only a half-game out of their division lead and with a comfortable cushion in the wild card race, so until the Big 12 conference schedule gets underway our priorities will be unchanged by the calendar. We did take note and were bemused, though, about that unintentionally ribald and hilarious half-time marching band blooper at the half-time of a gridiron contest between our Kansas State University Wildcats and the South Dakota State University Coyotes.
Another post-Labor Day rule is that we’re not supposed to take note of such frivolous things. On the day after Labor Day the kids are all back in school and their buses are once again slowing traffic, the recently tanking stock markets are back in business, business at large is back in business after all that laziness and haziness of summer, and the public’s attention is suddenly attuned to more serious matters. With an election year looming the Average American is now presumed to paying more sober attention to the presidential nomination campaigns, which we hope will lower front-running Republican candidate Donald Trump’s inexplicable numbers, and we can’t even guess what effect it might have on a Democratic race where formerly front-running Hillary Clinton now finds herself losing to self-described socialist and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. One can hope that this arbitrary seriousness will affect the meager chances of staving off the administration’s awful nuclear with Iran, and we’re pleased to note even on a Labor Day that our local congressman is still fighting it with a faint hope that those even more awful side deals between Iran an the International Atomic Energy Commission, and we’re glad that our congressman is on the job about it, but the mere turning of a calendar page doesn’t offer much hope.
The calendar does inevitably impose its will, however, in ways that even we and the added strength of popular opinion cannot resist. It’s a long, long way from May to December, as a favorite old song of ours notes, but the days grow short when you reach September. We couldn’t help noticing that the sky was already darkened to a Maxfield Parrish hue and the headlights were on by eight o’clock, and couldn’t help remembering back to that short time ago on the summer solstice night on this far western edge of the time zone when the sunshine lingered until a glorious 9:30 p.m. or so. We don’t have much to show for the intervening cycles of the universe, and yet hope to have done more before we reach that longest night, so we guess that now is as good a time as any to get back to business and be serious and acknowledge that football is actually happening. We’ll do our best at it, but so far today somehow seems a lot like last Tuesday.

— Bud Norman

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