There's an even crueler chaser to the holidays that are actually supposed to celebrate the before and after of the baby making equation: Valentine's and Mother's Day. What men refer to as holidays invented by the greeting card companies, women prefer to call, "the day I decide to start fucking other dudes."
Ashley Madison, the dating site for married people, typically sees 2,500 to 3,000 women sign up on an average Monday. On the day after Mother's Day last year, the site saw 31,427 new sign-ups.
According to the site's founder Noel Biderman , "Moms have high hopes that they'll be recognized on Mother's Day and often the breakfast in bed, flowers and massage never happens. Their disappointment drives them to consider other options." He stopped short of saying, "That's where I come in!" while making a thrusting motion with his hips.
If your wife was one of the 31,427 women who signed up to Ashley Madison, don't worry, there are other fish in the sea. As Biderman, the guy who made money off of destroying your family put it, "As a husband and father, I personally look forward to Mother's Day." Yes, there's a Mrs. Biderman. And we hear her husband is just super busy around Valentine's and Mother's Day.
Did you know your birthday can screw you life? Intelligent people generally agree that the alignment of the stars when you were born is approximately as important as what was on PBS at the time. But just because astrology is complete bullshit doesn't mean your birthday isn't plotting new, and creative ways to screw you.
Americans get a small taste of this in baseball. If your birthday is in late July, every time you struck out in Little League, it turns out you should have been the one throwing empty Budweisers at your dad. That's because the age cutoff for Little League is July 31st, meaning kids with August 1st birthdays were actually a year older you, meaning he porked you into existence at the worst time possible for your baseball career. And if you think that's a minor disadvantage, you should know that a July birthday makes you 50 percent less likely to make the Major Leagues.
"This kid swings like his parents did it in October."
This starts to make sense when think about how we figure out what we're good at. It's pretty much all guess and check. You try something out. If you like it, you keep trying it. If you suck at it, you dodge empty beer cans and move on to something else.
Where it starts to get downright terrifying in in places like Australia, Norway and the UK where the school system is run with the precision that Americans reserve for children throwing a ball around in the dirt. In those countries, a child born on the wrong side of their grade's cutoff day will be at a significant disadvantage in reading at age 16, less likely to get good grades and less likely to be university-bound. All because they have the wrong birthday.
When we go to a restaurant, most of us don't like to think about where the food is coming from. That's the point. You're putting the trust in the hands of a professional just like when you board a plane. Only commercial aircrafts aren't 35 percent more likely to crash during the summer, nor are pilots more likely to risk your life on Mondays--both chances you're taking every time you go out to eat on a Monday in the summer.
The 35 percent increase in food poisoning comes from the fact that microscopic organisms like warm climates just as much as we do. This is of course why most of us have refrigerators, and the meat and fish you buy at grocery stores spend most of their journey to your plate frozen solid. But restaurants are more likely to get meat and fish that hasn't been frozen from butchers and fish markets, to ensure the food tastes better. In his 2000 memoir about his time as the executive chef at some of New York's top restaurants, Anthony Bourdain describes the fish market where most Manhattan restaurants get their seafood.
And the problem isn't just Discount Sushi. As much as we don't like to think about it, restaurants are a business with notoriously thin margins. The ability to stay open can come down to how a restaurant does in a single weekend, when people are more likely to eat out. The problem is that most food providers don't deliver on the weekend, meaning a restaurant has to over estimate how much food to buy, or risk running out ...
Which rarely happens.
This brings us to Mondays in the summer, when the chef has a fridge full of days old fish and meat. Thanks to the hot weather, most of it was a risky proposition when it arrived in the kitchen. But if he throws it out, he risks not having a job the following Monday. So according to Bourdain, what happens instead is the chef creates a "special" dish designed to unload the ingredients that are starting to smell funny. That special dish gets printed up, inserted into the menu. Hell, the waiter even offers to "tell you about the specials," presumably because they don't feel quite as bad about poisoning people who need to have the menu read to them.
Suicide is a big deal, and most of us assume that the people who kill themselves recognize this fact. It's the most important decision you make in life other than who to marry and what your high school yearbook quote is.
So what day could possibly make us almost twice as likely to kill ourselves than any other?
Not Christmas. Not the day after taxes are due. Wednesday.
What the hell is so bad about Wednesday? It's far away from the weekend, sure. And it's pretty annoying when the lady from work calls it hump day. But it's not put-a-gun-in-your-mouth annoying. She's a woman, and she's using the word hump in a sentence.
Actually, the best explanation researchers were able to come up with for the spike boils down to: The weekend is far away on both sides, and works got you down. In fact, there's no shortage of statistics showing that many suicides are less the result of a profound philosophical problem and more a temporary fart of the soul that would have passed if they'd just given it a night or two to air out.
Take the British coal-gas story, famous among suicide experts (whose children tend not to invite them to career day). For the first half of the 20th century, the preferred method of suicide in Britain was "sticking ones head in the oven," where the coal gas delivered a swift, fatal dose of CO2. When the British government transitioned to a more efficient fuel that, as a happy coincidence, couldn't kill you, the suicide rate for the entire country dropped by a third, and has stayed there ever since.
"I'd quite fancy dying, but I'm not willing to travel more than nine feet to do it."
A similar thing happened in the state of Washington, where statewide jumping suicides were cut in half by raising the guard rails on one bridge. At the Golden Gate Bridge, the world's most popular suicide destination, 515 people were grabbed by cops mid suicide attempt between the years of 1937 and 1971. A researcher in the late 70s tracked these troubled souls down, and found that only six percent went on to kill themselves.
This isn't to deny that there are people in the world who have profoundly difficult problems. It just indicates that for 94 percent, ceasing to exist only seems worth it for a remarkably brief window of time. So whatever day of the week it is, if you're thinking of doing something drastic, it's probably a temporary trick of the mind. Sleep on it. If you still feel like jumping off a bridge in the morning, maybe give it until the holidays. Christmas will be happy to do the job for you.
Special thanks to Fitzgerald Smith for the totes awesome research he put into this article.
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For other widely believed notions with deadly implications, check out 5 Drinking Myths That Can Kill You. Or find out about some ways Mother Nature wants you dead, in 5 Bizarre Ways the Weather Can Kill You Without Warning.
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