I have a head full of trivia.
I don't know why this should be, but it's true. Random facts and useless bits of information seem to stick around in my memory like nobody's business, to be recalled instantly whenever the need arises. The problem is, of course, that the need never really arises. Nobody has ever - not once - asked me why vampires can't see their reflections in mirrors, for example, and it's really difficult to crowbar such a topic into everyday conversation. Which is a shame, because it's quite interesting really.
On the other hand, there are some things that I simply cannot fix in my mind, and one of these is how many days there are in each month. For years, my wife has been offering to teach me a kind of poem she learned at school when she was knee-high to a grasshopper, designed to help idiots like myself remember which months have thirty days in them, and which have thirty-one. It goes something along the lines of 'Thirty days have blah blah-ember, blah blah, blah blah and blah blah-ember, something something thirty-one, something something blah blah something.'
Or something like that.
Long story short, I was convinced that there were thirty-one days in November. I was going to spend the evening semi-comatose in front of the TV. My plan included chocolate at some point, and a glass or two of wine may also have been involved at some other point. In other words, I was going to write this article tomorrow.
"First of December already tomorrow", my wife commented, apropos of nothing, as she breezed by, in between having just done something and heading off to do something else.
"It's the thirtieth today", I told her, reaching for a corkscrew.
"I know. So tomorrow's the first."
"There are thirty days in November?" I asked, leaving the corkscrew where it was.
"Yes. Yes, there are. Which would be why I said that tomorrow is the first of December."
"Oh. I thought there were thirty-one..."
"Seriously? Listen. Thirty days have blah blah-ember, something something blah blah..."
So now here I am, writing this article. And tomorrow is the first of December. This time next month, another year will be over.
It seems to me that 2011 was a 'blink and you'll miss it' kind of year. I don't remember any other year zooming by so quickly. It's as if the gap between one Christmas and the next is getting shorter each time it comes around. Or maybe it's just that I'm getting older.
Someone once told me that time actually does move faster the older you get. A single day can last forever when you're a child because when you're a child there's a lot of interesting and exciting things to experience and discover and everything is brand new and, basically, 'wow', and so you cram a week's worth of life into the span of twenty-four hours, a bombardment of sensations and emotions into every single everlasting day. As you get older, life becomes a series of 'been there, done that' moments. We stop discovering new things, and suddenly today is tomorrow and tomorrow is the next day, and so on and so forth. At least, that's what the someone who once told me...um...told me.
I think that the last day of November is a good time to sit back and reflect upon the year gone by. It's no use trying to do so on the last day of December because - let's face it - one is generally too busy drunkenly singing 'Auld Lang Syne' at that time to focus on anything more complicated than not falling over and drowning themselves in the punch bowl. So the last day of November it is. In fact, I'm going to take it one step further...not only am I going to reflect upon my year… I'm going to give it a score. Because, you know, it might be fun.
This would be impossible to do, by the way, if it wasn't for the wonders of my Facebook account and a few minutes of patient scrolling back to the first of January, 2011...
So here we go. Marks out of ten for each month. Top marks: 110. Pass mark: 55.
January: Facebook status reads 'We never really grow up...we just learn how to act in public'. There's a bunch of New Year's Eve party pictures, and it looks like I was having a good time. So far so good, except that there's another status that reads 'My favourite part of Monday is how everyone can just go and jump off a bridge'. Not so good.
5 / 10
February: In February I apparently went to a ‘Virtual "March of Millions" In Solidarity With Egyptian Protesters', which means, basically, that I clicked on a button. On Valentine's Day, my status read 'Danny Coleiro wants to remind you that nothing says "I love you" more than somebody else's words mass produced on recycled paper.' There's a photo album of an enjoyable night out with colleagues, which included pizza and wine and, much later, karaoke. Good times.
7 / 10
March: A bit of a 'nothing' month, apparently. I played a lot of computer games, and did a lot of 'Why do you exist?' type quizzes. Random Facebook status reads 'THEY'RE going THERE with THEIR friends. Seriously folks, it's not rocket science.' Rubbish.
3 / 10
April: There's very little Facebook activity here. This was mainly because a good friend came over to visit for ten days and dragged me away from the computer. We had a great time. There's a large number of photos of this great time being had. Nice memories. Random status reads 'I didn't forward chain-mail to ten friends yesterday. Today, I'm still not dead...'
9 / 10
May: This was where I suddenly got bitten by the travel bug, and bought a flight for four to Switzerland for a two-week family holiday in August / September. I also watched the Eurovision song contest, and didn't like it. I went to a bachelor's party, and then another party, and then another party...Status: 'Dijon Vu - the feeling you've had this mustard before.'
8 / 10
June: Not a good month, according to Facebook. Went to a wedding, and a high school reunion, and that was about it. More games, more quizzes - 'Who am I, really?' (!) . Status update reads 'Good morning. I see the assassins have failed once again.'
2 / 10
July: I went to a great barbeque this month. (The memories are becoming clearer as the past gets closer to the present, obviously!) Also enjoyed a couple of good nights out. Status: 'I am not the person your mother warned you about. Her imagination was never this good.'
8 / 10
August: Not a very good month except for halfway through (a farewell party - bitter sweet) and the end of it, due to a great Turkish party and, days later, finally taking off to Switzerland. The beginning, however, was awful. There are lots of music videos here, alternating between sad and angry. Status: 'The problem with bridges is trying to decide which to cross and which to burn.'
2 / 10
September: Switzerland, at long last! A great family holiday. About twenty billion photos, mostly of grass and trees. And mountains. Status: 'Note to self: The problem with attempting to communicate in the bit of German you know results in people answering your queries in the lot of German you don't. Until you run away crying.'
9 / 10
October: A month of nothing much. Everyone seems to be posting pithy platitudes on Facebook. I carved a pumpkin. Status: 'Danny Coleiro is boldly going nowhere.'
4 / 10
November: I have no idea where this month went! Nothing much seems to have happened. A random status reads 'And for my next trick, I shall turn this bottle of wine into a wine bottle!', which might explain it.
5 / 10
And all this gives the year a grand total of 62 out of 110, and therefore a pass. Not brilliant, but not bad, and actually more fun to do than I had anticipated, purely because of the trip down memory lane. Give it a try - there's actually a lot that goes on in a year, and a lot that gets forgotten. And the good thing is that, even if the year has been terrible, you still have a month left to make up for it. So go ahead, and enjoy half an hour of reflection...
Oh, and speaking of reflection...do you know why vampires don't have one?
I'll tell you later. Right now, there's a TV, a bar of chocolate and a couple of glasses of wine waiting for me downstairs…
Danny is an English teacher at EC Malta English School