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Berger’s Burg: All work, no holidays makes August a dull month

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She said: “It will be good to get away.”

He remarked: “Yeah! Forget about rising utility bills and house payments.”

She remarked: “Forget about the way food prices are going up.”

He commented: “Forget...

By Alex Berger

He said: “I can hardly wait for our vacation.”

She said: “It will be good to get away.”

He remarked: “Yeah! Forget about rising utility bills and house payments.”

She remarked: “Forget about the way food prices are going up.”

He commented: “Forget about increases in state, local and property taxes.”

She said: “Forget about gas and commuter expenses.”

He declared: “Forget about the vacation!”

Two middle-aged women, Britney and Charlize, were chatting in a restaurant. “I was talking to Gwyneth the other day about vacation plans, and she tells me you are not going to London this summer.”

“No, that was last year. This year we are not going to Rome.”

It soon will be August, the “too-hot,” “shrinks are away” and “most of the good summer movies have already been released” month.

Anyone who reads this newspaper regularly knows I am the holiday man. Whenever there is a holiday on the horizon, there sits a column of mine, waiting in the wings to announce its presence to the world; however, every August about this time a feeling of tranquility and peace begins to steal over me. At first, I believed it came from the lazy, hazy days of summer.

But then I realized the true cause of my delight, the dog days of August — dotted with anniversaries of momentous events (wars, coups, natural disasters and the month Elvis, Marilyn and Babe Ruth died) — have no official holidays for me to write about.

What an eerie sensation. Just think of it: no column on turkeys to stuff, trees to trim or gifts to wrap. No words on leprechauns lurking underfoot, Santa ho-ho-ho-ing everywhere or cupids cavorting about.

It is certainly the best of all possible worlds, except for one small detail: Not having a holiday column would be unfair to my readers. Gosh, I feel so bad for them that I have decided to come up with a new holiday that poor, holiday-challenged August can call its very own.

To keep things nicely spaced, I think it should fall midway between July Fourth and Labor Day and, for the sake of the working man and woman, it should definitely be on a Monday. So, that brings us to the first Monday of August.

Now that the day is settled, the next step is to draw up some guidelines for creating a holiday. Coming up with a holiday is like logrolling — it is not as easy as it looks. There are four rules to keep in mind, and I think it would be helpful to spell them out:

No. 1 — A good holiday must be one that people will look forward to and greet with enthusiasm each time it rolls around. The last thing you want when you announce a new holiday is for someone to call out, “Who cares?”

My first thought for the holiday was Vice President’s Day. It seems only fair since presidents have their own holiday, but it would never pass the enthusiasm test. Neither would commemorating the month for the Beatles’ last concert, American women winning the right to vote, the first baseball night game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the premier of what many 4-year-olds consider the single most frightening film ever made (“Bambi”), and the birthdays of Napoleon Bonaparte, Annie Oakley, John Wilkes Booth, Ivan the Terrible, Madonna, Sean Connery, my sister Shirley and brother Larry.

No. 2 — A good holiday must not offend any large segments of the population or remind them of “bad” things. Therefore, the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the most expensive natural disaster of the Roman Empire; Hurricane Andrew ravishing South Florida and Louisiana, the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the United States; the founding of the IRS; the day the first commercial aired; the first and second atomic bombs falling over war-time Japan; President Richard Nixon resigning his presidency; and the date Hillary first threw out Bill would be poor choices.

No. 3 — Any holiday worth its salt must require absolutely no special preparations of any kind — no cooking, no gifts, not even a greeting card. Unfortunately, this rule shoots down my latest idea, Mother-in-Law Day, for the old dear would want the works — a special dinner, a gift, a greeting card. It is probably a bad idea, anyway.

Today’s multiple marriages have the dreadful effect of producing multiple mothers-in-law and, as we all know, it is entirely possible to have too much of a bad thing.

No. 4. The perfect holiday must be costume-free. Sadly, this rule knocks down my other brainstorm, National Ballet Day. The last thing stressed-out mothers of Queens need is to have to come up with ballet costumes for themselves and their children in the heat of August.

Nonetheless, I have finally hit on an ideal holiday — the world’s first truly hassle-free holiday. I submit that the first Monday of every August be declared National Hammock Day. If my holiday comes to pass, I will forget that every year about this time, when that delightful feeling of tranquility and peace steals over me, it will not be from the lazy, hazy days of August. Instead, it will be the excitement of writing a column about my holiday. And I won’t forget the radio, the earplugs and the sunscreen lotion, either.

Uh, oh! The implementation of National Hammock Day may be short-lived. I just read an instant e-mail flash that the scientists at the International Astronomical Union have just issued a code red alert. They report that a newly discovered comet might collide with the earth on Aug. 14, 2126. Hmm! Is it really worth creating a brand-new holiday for only 123 years? No, I guess not, so I will leave August just the way it is — forever holiday-challenged.

Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 140.

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