Never again. You know you've said those words. Press your tongue against the arched vault of your palate and image the beginning of the "N" sound. Never. Never. Never again will I be here in November when the ficus tree starts expelling its leaves as if they had wicked-bad cooties. Never again will I be here in December when an assembly of dope-dazzled Disney rejects and grown-up lead-paint-chip eaters parade down Nicollet Mall to drum up better Christmas sales for discount retailers. Never again will I watch the January sun arc feebly in the distance with all the intensity of a gas-station flashlight. Never again: Note how the words practically say themselves. Never again will I seek medical treatment for chapped nipples in February; never again will I break a hard crust of mucus off my mustache in March and count how many hairs are stuck in it. And come April? Never again in April will I wait seven hours in a third-tier mall for AAA to arrive and defibrillate my cold-paralyzed jalopy. Never again. These words hammer our consciousness every single wretched day of the winter with a great urgency--the same way we resolve with high purpose not to touch the inside of the light socket, while the juice is coursing through our arm. But the winter dread echoes in the hindquarter of the head all summer, too. In the midst of the greatest summertide glory--say, a Fourth of July barbecue of epic carnage--we're fearfully anticipating the ice age to come. There's only one time of year when we're free of the anxiety that makes Toro a trillion-dollar seller and pays the bills for Paul Douglas's bikini wax. And that time is May. Winter is a part of the past. Summer is still in the future. For one month, and one month only, we can entertain the illusion that we'll never have to say never again.


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