April has a great publicist. We're fed all this crap from earliest childhood about what a great month April is, how it's a time of renewal and rebirth, etc. We're handed all this imagery to associate with April; showers and flowers and watercolored countrysides, bursting with new life. It's bullshit. April's scents and colors are perfume and makeup, and under all of that there's a vicious, hateful old whore.
It's tempting now to give you a list of my own personal reasons for hating April. It's a temptation I won't even try to resist. Here are some of my reasons for hating April... My grandmother died in April. A teenage cousin of mine succumbed to brain cancer in April. On two subsequent Aprils I lost two very close friends, very suddenly. They were both here one moment, gone the next. My first wife walked out in April of 2000, my second wife walked out one April morning nine years later. I was diagnosed with cancer in April. Is that enough? Because, there is more. My list of items is memorized, cataloged, studied and loathed.
Now, you might be tempted to explain away my feelings about April as a kind of displacement; an almost irrational connection of specific painful events to the month of their coincidental occurrences. That's not the case. April isn't just a shitty month for me. April is cruel to us all.
Titanic sank in April. 1,500 people either drowned or froze to death in the north Atlantic on April 15, 1912, toward no ultimate good and imparting no greater meaning. Martin Luther King was murdered on an early April day in Memphis. The Bataan Death March took place in April. On April 12, 1861, Confederate soldiers attacked Fort Stumter, officially beginning the American Civil War. The great San Francisco earthquake claimed more than 4,000 lives on April 18, 1906. And, in 1986, on April 6, a bomb went off in a Berlin club that was frequented by American servicemen and their friends. Three people were killed, more than seventy were injured, terrorists were to blame, and our modern age of uncertainty was christened.
You want more? The Columbine massacre was April 20th. The Chernobyl melt-down was April 26th. The USS Iowa explosion killed 47 sailors on April 19, 1989. The US Government killed more than 80 people when it burned the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas on that same April date, four years later. And a little shindig known as the LA Riots began following the aquital of the cops who beat Rodney King on April 29, 1992.
But surely, you might say, there must be more than infamous death associated with April. There must also be April dates that mark historic new lives! Weren't there any notable, important people born in the month of April? Well, sure, there were. Hitler, for instance. He was born on April 20th. (His henchman Rudolph Hess celebrated his birthdays on April 25th.) Vladimir Lenin was born on April 22nd; he went on to cause thousands of deaths and decades of Communist oppression. Japan's Emperor Hirohito was born on April 29th. As an adult, Hirohito authorized the bombing of Pearl Harbor. April 29th also marks the birth of William Randolph Hearst, and you can think him for tabloids, the Spanish American war, and the prohibition of marijuana.
Of course, plenty of April babies are innocent of large scale death and destruction. Some of them killed on a much smaller scale. For instance:
- high society boyfriend killer, Jean Harris (4/27)
- British serial strangler John Christie (4/8)
- Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin (4/9)
- Al Capone's Valentine's Day hitman, Tony Accardo (4/26)
- and Adam Lanza, the child killer of Sandy Hook (4/22).
Alright, yeah, fine, there were also a few good people born in the month of April. But, after reading all of that, if you still want to throw parties for Thomas Jefferson, Robert Downey, Jr., and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ... well, be my guest.
I'm posting this now, in February, well ahead of the month of April, for two reasons. I know that some people have things to look forward to in April and I don't want to wait until that treacherous month gets here and rain on anyone's parade. And it is entirely possible that this April will be uneventful.
Yeah, I was kind of a smart-ass in the last part of this post, but I wasn't insincere. I do hate and mistrust April, and it comes around every year. Be ready for it, because, like much of life, it ain't necessarily what it seems.