The lamest holiday of them all has to be Groundhog Day, when Phil, the groundhog mascot of Punxatawny, Pennsylvania, comes out of his hole. Legend has it that if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

Nobody mentions the fact that, whether he sees his shadow or not, there will be six more weeks of winter. It’s February 2. Do the math, people.

It seems to me that Groundhog Day, like most so-called holidays, is just a thinly disguised advertising gimmick and an excuse to spend money you can’t spare on things you don’t need.

For 364 days a year, Punxatawny Phil is pampered like royalty. On the 365th day, all that is required of him is that he cast a shadow, which is a dubious skill at best. Let’s face it; it does not require a lot of talent to stand in the sunlight and bask in the adoration of millions of fans, in exchange for a life of wealth and privilege. Just ask any of the Kardashians.

I figure if Punxatawny, Pennsylvania can parley one dumb groundhog into a windfall of positive press and prolific profit, so can my home town. There must be an animal in this small town which, given the right motivation, can be trained to surpass Phil’s very limited weather predicting skills.

I decided to enlist Trixie, the neighbor’s dog. Although very cute and lovable, up until now, Trixie’s major talents have been chasing her tail, snapping at flies, and tipping over garbage cans. And yet, I sense a spark of intelligence which at least rivals that of a groundhog.

So I spent many weeks in my garage, teaching Trixie the finer points of weather prediction. We have studied charts and graphs, plotted the course of the jet stream, and interpreted Doppler radar data. Trixie doesn’t say much, but I can tell she is taking it all in. We came up with a system of pointing and yipping and patting her paw on the floor to communicate her responses.

At last, I felt Trixie was ready for her dramatic debut. The advance press had proven effective. The town took on the air of a carnival. It swarmed with reporters, photographers, and vendors selling Trixie T-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers.

At the appointed hour, an expectant hush fell over the crowd as I slowly raised the curtain to reveal Trixie the Wonder Dog standing in front of a weather map, a pointy stick clenched in her yellowed teeth.

Flashbulbs popped and a murmur of amazement rippled through the crowd as Trixie barked out her predictions of prevailing west winds, falling barometric pressure, and a cold front expected to sweep in from Canada.

Oh, sure, she was a few points off on the pollution count and when she pointed to New Jersey she referred to it as Rhode Island. All in all, she was every bit as impressive as Punxatawny Phil.

As her trainer and agent, I already was calculating my 10 % share of the fortune that was sure to come.

That’s when one of the custodians turned on a vacuum cleaner. Trixie dropped her pointy stick and ran yelping down Main Street with her tail tucked between her legs.

But let’s be honest; Punxatawny Phil might do the same if he could get any speed out of those short legs.




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