Thanksgiving? Please… all that turkey and even more dishes to wash. Halloween? Spandex makes me itchy. Christmas? That’s not even Jesus’s real birthday, nobody knows that date for sure. No, the best day of the year is today… the Day After Labor Day!!!
Why, you say? Well, it’s probably not as significant to most people as it is to me. I think you’d need to have worked for as many years as I have in a seasonal theme park to get what I mean. It’s true I do not work out at the parks anywhere near as much as I used to, but for about 18 seasons I drew 5-6 days a week, 12 hours a day all summer long. I put up with searing heat and sweltering humidity. I have lost gallons of blood to ravenous mosquitoes, answered endless stupid questions from customers when the answers to their queries were on a sign in 6 inch letters 2 feet from the end of their nose, drew like a madman from open to close until my hand hurt, listened to lame theme park soundtracks and bad park shows in the background heard over the screams of the Great Unwashed on the roller coasters. Don’t get me started about the smells. When I started my own operations I not only drew but was responsible for as many as 50 artists who’s smallest problems now became my problems. Ever had to organize and supervise a group of artists?? It’s like herding cats. Yes, the summers were quite a grueling affair.
Then came the Day After Labor Day. All the theme parks I had operations in were closed for the first time since mid-May. No artists drawing, no customers clamoring, no issues, problems or needs. It was always like a giant weight was lifted from my shoulders. In fact, I used to have an annual ritual on the Day After Labor Day. I would go out to the caricature booth at ValleyFair where I always drew on this day, sit there in my usual chair in the eerie quiet of the empty theme park and read a book with my feet up on the railing for an hour or so. No noises and screams from the rides, no screwball background soundtrack, no listening to the live show across the walkway for the 2,637 time, no guests with corn dog breath asking where the bathrooms are…very healing.
Nowadays I don’t need that hour of healing quiet today, but I get the same feeling anyway. No park operations running… all my booths are empty and there is no chance of the phone ringing with someone’s excuse for why they can’t do their job today. Plus, all my kids are gone for the first day of school and the house itself has the same eerie quiet the theme park has. I never do any work on the Day After Labor Day. I will read a book (perhaps Forsyth’s “The Afghan”??), eat total comfort food and maybe take a nap. The heat of the summer is generally done here in Minnesota this time of year, but there are still lazy warm days like this one in early September with just hint of fall in the slight bite of the breeze… perfect weather to put the top down in the convertible and drive around. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
Back to reality tomorrow, but for now…
Happy Day After Labor Day!
753 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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