Humorist H. Allen Smith once said “On Monday mornings I am dedicated to the proposition that all men are created jerks.” I’ve been feeling sorta jerkish after last week’s column omitted the fact that I was quoting an old 1994 obituary, leaving readers with the impression that Bob Keeshan, TV’s beloved Captain Kangaroo, had recently passed away. Fortunately, I didn’t feel as bad after encountering a British study sponsored by Marmite that unearthed some startling statistics about how Mondays affect people.
Few things are more English than Marmite, a peculiar-tasting sandwich spread. Marmite.com describes its product as “nutritious, savory spread that contains B vitamins,” but Wikipedia says Marmite’s “made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing” and is “a sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful flavor which is extremely salty.” Apparently it’s an acquired taste.
Marmite’s researchers found that “deep-rooted tribal instincts” lead to discombobulation when Mondays roll around because “Workers like to feel part of their tribe again after the weekend, and need to chat to each other and spend time in communal areas.” The Marmite researchers also discovered the average worker doesn’t smile until 11:16 AM. Half of them are late for work on Mondays and, after all the tribal bonding, will only crank out 3.5 hours of productive work.
Thanks to sunny dispositions and caffeine, our library staff functions well even on Monday mornings, like two Mondays ago when a vole invaded Noel Wien Library before the 10 AM opening time. The intruder was soon corralled and, after some to-do, released in the wild by two intrepid library workers who aren’t fazed by Mondays, but it did give rise to the question: do voles eat books? The reference librarians contacted Steve Seefeldt, Cooperative Extension’s pest expert, and learned although paper is a potential source of carbohydrates, voles prefer roots, bulbs and such. However, they’d love to shred paper for their nests. Voles are prolific breeders, and the Hill family gardens can attest to a championship season of it this summer. Your average female vole reaches maturity in a month and begins churning out 5-to-10 pup litters 5-to-10 times a year.
Last Monday was horrible for some Olympic hurdlers. Running full-tilt while leaping a hair’s-breadth above stout hurdle-tops is incredibly difficult. Even China’s Liu Xiang, a former Olympic champion, cut it too close last Monday and crashed terribly and was hauled off in a wheelchair. And on the same day, Lolo Jones, America’s best hope at the last Olympics in the women’s 100 meter hurdles who crashed into the last hurdle in the final race, ran her best time of the year yet finished a fraction behind the bronze medalist.
The Olympics used to be more fun. The English newspaper The Guardian recently described some discontinued Olympic events, such as tug-of-war, long jump for horses, and rope climbing. Imagine the TV ratings if they still featured competitive pistol dueling, obstacle swimming, and the plunge. The former featured “contestants firing at dummies tarted up in frock coats and top hats. The bullseye was situated on the thorax.” Obstacle swimming required scrambling over poles suspended just above the water and swimming under boats and ships.
The plunge involved diving from a standing position, not propelling oneself, and coasting underwater as far as possible while remaining motionless. The winner went the furthest in sixty 60 without breathing. Only held in the 1904 St. Louis Games, American William Dickey won gold with a 62.5 foot effort. The plunge was the first Olympic diving event, and Dickey won on Monday, September 5, 1904, proving that Mondays aren’t all bad..
“Monday” means “moon day,” springing from the Old English “monandaegloan.” Mondays aren’t going away, but are they merely “the potholes in the road of life”? Beside tribal bonding and getting us up to speed, what good purpose do Mondays serve besides making all the other days appear more pleasurable? “I believe everything happens for a reason,” that unhappy lady, Marilyn Monroe, said. “People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you can appreciate them when they’re right … and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” See you next Monday.