Feb 14, 2018

Anti-Hump Day

One Wednesday morning, I was rushing to the elevator on the first floor of the building I work in and I passed a woman holding a bunch of balloons. Once I got into the elevator I realized that despite my rushing she wasn’t that far behind me, so I just held the door for her. There were two guys, both looked in their twenties, already in the elevator with me, each holding one of those to-go holder-trays for multiple coffees. We’re waiting for the woman with balloons and one of the guys says loudly in a suddenly excited voice, "Oh look, she knows it’s my birthday!"
The other guy’s head whips around and he promptly goes, "Dude, its not your birthday."
And the first guy, ignoring him and I now notice, shooting looks at me, says, "How did she know?!"
And the other guy just frowns at him until birthday boy looks back at him out of the corner of his eye. Then they both look at me, like for a reaction or something, I don’t know.  I don't really have one, I’m too busy documenting their oddness in my mind. I suddenly realized I remembered one of them, the one who had exclaimed it was his birthday, because once I crashed into him on the second-floor landing of the stairwell when I was running (and falling) down the stairs. I remembered him because he seemed entirely too pleased about me crashing into him.
Anyway, the woman finally makes it to the elevator and steps in, and I press 10 for her, 2 for them and 3 for me. There’s a short silence, then the guy who I once crashed into, who claimed it was his birthday, and who had continued shooting looks at me, says "Happy Hump Day!" to us. Or just me, since he was staring into my eyes, intensely, when he said it.
            I sense a moment of confusion from the other two people in the elevator, but I don’t respond to the questioning glances because I’m too busy staring back at this guy who seems intent on celebrating something.
In the middle of this impromptu staring contest it occurred to me that, had I been any other girl, this might actually be mildly disturbing.
Then his friend goes, "Happy Hump day!" with forced cheer, still sort of frowning at his buddy, attempting to break the atmosphere or something. I felt bad for that friend. I think he knew how odd his buddy was being and felt an obligation to be a buffer between him and us, and at the same time, a wingman.
The woman with the balloons then says, “Happy Hump day,” in a sort of mildly forced, not very enthusiastic way. She was like, "Heh, oh yeah, heh, I guess it's Wednesday, right? Happy... hump day."
Then everyone turned to me expectantly.
I said nothing.
I looked back at them and silently refused to take part in this ritual. I watched the cringe develop in two pairs of eyes and let the silence stretch, leisurely. Like a cat. I love awkward silences. I feed off them like a dementor. Balloon woman and the wingman soon resort to staring at the elevator doors, but for some reason, birthday boy starts openly grinning at me.
In hindsight now, I think, was I supposed to know him? There was something vaguely familiar about him, but only in the general recognition of… creepiness.
And then the doors open at the second floor. I return birthday boy’s steady gaze as he leaves the elevator, then pauses, still looking at me, until the doors start to close. When he finally turns around, the balloon woman starts to murmur to me, "I guess it's hump day," with a sort of shrug and exhalation (of relief, now that the source of tension has stepped out of the elevator), but then we hear the wingman hiss at birthday boy, “What is wrong with y—“ before the doors close fully. Both of us look sharply at the doors, then look back at each other.
I wait a prolonged moment to make sure the doors are well and truly closed and weren’t about to pop open again so birthday boy could hear my voice.
Then I finally say, conversationally, "I actually find the phrase ‘hump day’ rather disturbing."
She bursts out laughing. She goes, "Oh my gad, right?!"
I say, "It's a horrible way to describe Wednesday."
She’s still laughing as I go on contemplatively, "No woman describes Wednesday as 'hump day' – I think it's a guy thing."
Then she says, "You know, I have never heard a woman say it, it's always a man!"
Then I snorted, "Yes, because it's a pretty disturbing notion. Like, what kind of an image is Hump Day? One that makes me cringe."
I got off the elevator then, but I didn’t stop thinking about Hump Day. Oh no.
And I have decided that I am against Hump Day.

Well, let’s think about it. What is Groundhog Day? It’s the day, somewhere, a groundhog kind of wakes and then goes back to sleep. Mother’s Day is the day we celebrate our mothers. April Fool’s Day? We try to make fools of everyone around us. May Day, despite the way it sounds, is not a day filled with panic and calls for help, but the first day of May, and can be quite pleasant and filled with flowers. Valentine’s Day is when we give other people valentines and chocolate, and expect some in return.
Then we come to Hump Day. What do we do on Hump Day? Following the established pattern, we hump.
But I don’t like that. I don’t want to hump on Wednesdays, I don’t feel like it then. And yes, ok? When I first heard “Hump Day,” I was completely thrown and I had to have some manly man explain it to me a couple times. He didn’t make any sense. I think what he was not saying and didn’t really understand is that the phrase “hump day” is supposed to superficially and momentarily raise the spirits of men-who-have-wasted-their-lives-in-an-office-building-because-their-one-purpose-in-life-is-to-make-money through the use of a word that can mean more than one thing. I doubt those men even enjoy any humping on Hump Day, they’re probably too tired by the time they’re released from the office, so they just derive some sort of pleasure from throwing around double entendres with females. Anyone who thinks the work week is like a hill, has obviously never climbed a real hill. What do you do when you get to the top of a hill? You rest, take a break. What can you not do on Wednesday? Take a break and rest. You’re right in the middle of the work week, you’ve still got two days to get through. You can’t start your weekend early, that’s not how time works. Wednesday is when it hits you that you’ve only got two more days left of business hours to file documents or set up an appointment to get your wisdom teeth out or go to the post office.  You have to keep on going and get ready for Thursday. Another whole day, almost exactly like Wednesday, which was remarkably like Tuesday, except you no longer have most of the week ahead of you to accomplish the things you need to accomplish before the world becomes a little less available for the weekend and all those important numbers you have to call go straight to voicemail.

Then, while pondering Hump Day, something new came to me: why Throwback Thursday?
That one doesn’t really make sense to me either. I would rather hump on Thursday, then I could just hump my way into Friday, where we fry everything.  Then, we spend Saturday 'sat' on the couch, watching Lord of the Rings, extended editions – because they are about six hours long and you can literally do anything else during them. They are not distracting, those movies won’t stop you from taking care of an important phone call, doing some math, cooking, embarking on an art project or rearranging your furniture. Then on Sunday, that is when we throwback, when we contemplate what has been and languish in that sunny feeling of nostalgia. That sunny feeling pervades everything, even horrible memories. At the end of contemplating how miserable you were a couple years ago, ultimately the phrase, “good times,” shoots through your head before you move on. It’s like a form a brainwashing, to convince you to keep on going and resist the urge to have a mental breakdown on Monday.
“Hump day” is a crass phrase. It belongs in the place in people’s brains where they keep the other crass and unimaginative phrases that they do not say out loud, like adding “and shit” when you get tired of describing something, or “rule of thumb” which actually refers to an archaic law stating that a man may beat his wife with a stick no thicker than the width of his thumb. Another one is “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Who the hell wants to skin cats?

I have absolutely no idea how so many people have been convinced that “Hump Day” is referring to the weekdays as a hill, or that it translates from “you’ve gotten over the hump.” I’m sure that’s not why certain individuals say it. The last time ‘hump’ was used so often in daily conversation was in the Black Eyed Peas song* that goes, “I'ma get get get get you drunk/Get you love drunk off my hump/My hump my hump my hump my hump my hump/My hump my hump my hump, my lovely lady lumps. Check it out.”  Forevermore now, I have an aversion to people wishing me Happy Hump Day, and even before that elevator ride, I had this fear that people only said Happy Hump Day to me so that I would say it back, and if I said it back to them, then they would immediately conclude that I wanted to celebrate hump day, with them.
Some people might call that paranoia. I call it having class. I’m not about to hump just anyone here. I’ve never said Happy Hump Day back to anyone, ever - I’ve just kept pretending that I have no idea what they mean. Because when I do say it, I’m going to say it with the full meaning of the word, to the person I intend to hump and who I know intends to hump me.
So, people, please. Think about what you are saying. Stop being deluded into using rote phrases! Don’t let yourselves become de-sensitized to language! It’s the first step in being brainwashed. Once you’ve surrendered the meaning of the language you use to a trend that you don’t control or scrutinize, you are no longer the one speaking. And repetition really does affect the way you think.
When I was thirteen years old, my friend’s elder sister, who was around twenty, told me that she thought I was a classy lady. From that moment on, I knew. It was like being one of those mean people from What-Not-To-Wear. Instinctive. My purpose was to point out the flaws in other people and embarrass them into submission. Then they would look at themselves in the mirror and thank me. Over time, the world would become a more beautiful place.

Stay classy, America. Don’t use the phrase “Hump Day.”
*That Black Eyed Peas song was once one of my favorite songs. I know all the words to it and actively must stop myself from bursting into song when I hear the plural noun form of hump. 

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