May is the unofficial start of summer, what with the pool parties, beach vacations, and Memorial Day barbecues. That’s the part that most of us look forward to.
But it is also a month of airport anxiety, body shaming, and frenzied moms hoping for the perfect gift as least once in their lives. However, there are ways to cope with all that stress in the month of May. So read on, and we hope that this list will lend some insight.
10 Y’all Remember Carrie?
May is the height of prom season. Although it is one of the most important of all high school social functions, the prom produces more anxiety in the student body than final exams. There is picking out the right dress—or tux—as well as the popularity-based, cliquish issues such as which table to sit at and with whom to socialize.
This is all important stuff to teens, many of whom are still wearing braces and chewing bubble gum. What if you’re a dude who doesn’t know how to dance and your date is a ballerina? Or worse, what if you’re a girl with a pink gown whose date brings you an avocado-green corsage?
In the weeks before the prom, boys have anxiety issues about asking a girl out for a date, often to the point that they chicken out and both end up missing the dance. Money issues add to this stress as gowns, tuxedos, and limo rides can be rather pricey. Then peer pressure that night sometimes involves alcohol and drugs.
Nowadays, many kids are just sitting it out because the event is too lame, too expensive, or too intrusive upon their evening social media time.
While prom season can be taxing for any teen, students suffering from social anxiety find it to be so stressful that they often choose to stay home. As for those who choose to attend, many are going stag or as part of a group of friends. It seems the less stress, the better time to be had, no matter how you get there or with whom you go.
Although if there is a painfully shy girl in attendance wearing a pig’s-blood-red gown, listen to your anxiety and run!
9 National Too-Much-Awareness Month
“They” say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Thus, a deluge of awareness might just be catastrophic. And for some reason, May is chock-full of one-day, all-week, and month-long observances devoted to specific causes and conditions, many of which are depressingly dispiriting.
We have hepatitis awareness, lupus awareness, and HIV vaccine awareness. It is also global employee health and fitness month with a food allergy awareness week and even a heat safety awareness day thrown in for good measure.
And let us not forget that May is melanoma and skin cancer detection and prevention month (surely a welcoming prelude to tank top and pool party season), not to mention about 20 other special observances. We all know that awareness is a good thing, but perhaps it’s better in small measures. So how do we deal with all this awareness?
In 2015, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that there are almost 200 official awareness dates and many of these observances have little to no effect on the cause they are highlighting. Studies show that spreading awareness via social media without constructive campaigns or money-raising enterprises doesn’t really do much except for possibly collecting thumbs-up responses.
The criteria for finding the right activist campaign, it seems, is to search for causes with tangible activities that either collect donations or provide services. If an awareness campaign is only asking you to change your Facebook picture for a day, nothing really gets accomplished.
So, find a cause you believe in that does actual good for the community it represents and stick with it. Then reward yourself by attending a pool party.
8 Pre–Mother’s Day Anxiety (For The Kids)
Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May, and the weeks leading up to the celebration can often bring a level of anxiety into the lives of sons and daughters who feel obligated to buy their mom the perfect gift.
Every year, we are deluged with shopping suggestions in periodicals, on morning shows, and throughout lifestyle websites. They tell us how to buy the perfect gift for that lady of honor. But they usually offer general, across-the-board notions, whereas each and every mother is a priceless prize of individuality.
Beyond that, a recent Google search using the keywords “mother’s day shopping” brought in a whopping 229 million search results, each one guaranteeing to make that special matriarch a happy camper. Also, many daughters who are adults with children themselves feel likewise overwhelmed by the holiday. Thus, they often neglect to buy their own moms anything for Mother’s Day, a cycle that might just repeat.
But, however stressful the preholiday period is for the kids, there is one person who might become even more agitated on the actual day . . .
7 Real-Time Mother’s Day Anxiety (For The Moms)
Every mom hopes for the perfect gift on that special Sunday in May. Approximately 1 percent of the time, her wish will come true. But that’s all right. Moms seem to be experts at the fine art of smiling while offering gratitude for crappy gifts all throughout the year, not just on Mother’s Day.
Honestly, some moms would rather skip the holiday formalities and just ride with the sentiment of honor and respect for which the occasion was actually intended.
In 2018, Americans spent a whopping $30.3 billion on Mother’s Day, which boils down to $124 per shopper. Of course, spending fluctuates per state. Oregonians are the most frugal with their average gift costing $30, while Texans outspend everyone with an average $248 per gift.
According to a government study revised in 2017, middle-income parents in the US spent an average of $233,610 to raise a child from birth to age 17. Certainly, the financial trade-off falls on the side of the kids, which might explain why there is no official shopping season for the National Children’s Day observance in June.
However you choose to celebrate Mother’s Day, whether with C-notes and caviar or a bouquet of wildflowers and a kiss, do so with the true meaning of the holiday in your hearts. Perhaps the one thing moms want the most is a heartfelt thanks—for all the cooking, cleaning, guidance, and even all the scolding. For all this, we should thank our moms!
That being said, a third part to this tirade could have been entitled “Post–Mother’s Day Anxiety (For The Dads).” If they fail to buy the right gift for the other half, payback’s an expletive and their day is coming up in just one month.
6 Pollen And Pool Parties
May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. More people suffer from allergies in spring than in autumn. The major allergen culprits in May are pollen from trees and grasses, but people allergic to insect bites and stings should also be wary. There are plenty of bugs and bees out and about this time of year.
People who never suffer from allergies sometimes take the subject lightly, but this is truly a serious matter. One in five Americans are afflicted with chronic allergic reactions, and about 10 people die each day from asthma.
If you suffer from one of these afflictions, it is important to keep your home clean from pet dander, dust mites, and mold. However, people who suffer from allergies have much less control over the environment when they are outside, and no one wants to stay inside during the month of May.
This is the time of year when people like to go outside and socialize. Spring is in its prime to the point that it feels like summer, and Memorial Day is right around the corner. But nobody wants to attend a pool party or a backyard barbecue just to sneeze and wipe at their eyes during the entire event.
There are steps you can take to prevent this. Check pollen counts every day, and wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. Check for high pollution levels, and be a bit more careful on those days. If you jog, do so in the evening as pollen and mold counts are lower. Also, if you are allergic to bee stings, don’t wear scented perfumes or hair products and always make sure you leave the house with your EpiPen.
Keep in mind that house pets can also suffer from allergies and asthma. So if kitty frequently hacks as if trying to cough up something but nothing comes out, you might want to take her to see the vet.
5 Gypsy Moth Mania
They hatch in a multitude in early May, with each about 0.16 centimeters (0.06 in) long. Within six weeks, they have morphed into long, slithery, hairy monstrosities up to 7.6 centimeters (3 in) in length.
And they’re everywhere—writhing, crawling, and devastating the spring foliage of thousands of acres of trees. They’re on our houses and in our yards. They’re pooping on us from above as we try to relax on our porches and at picnics. We can even hear an odd, unearthly hum from above as they chew in unison and gnaw in legion.
Does this sound like a cheesy horror flick? No—it’s actually just lower New England in the midst of a gypsy moth caterpillar infestation.
In 1869, gypsy moth larvae from France were blown from a window sill in Medford, Massachusetts, where they were being evaluated for the production of silk. Throughout the 1980s, they became a widespread, creeping nuisance and one of the most damaging pests in the United States. They feed and prey mainly upon hardwood trees.
The ghastly epidemic has spread as far as Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan. By the end of June, these little buggers have bunkered down in cocoons, only to emerge in July as fully formed moths. They will eventually mate, with the females laying hundreds of eggs per pop on trees, houses, and even lawn furniture. Then the cycle begins again.
To make things worse, these little creepazoids have few to no natural enemies to control their proliferation. For a while, a fungus was killing the caterpillars, but extended droughts have decimated the fungus in recent years. As a result, the gypsy moth rapidly begets and proliferates again.
These caterpillars look horror-film hideous, what with their writhing, brightly spotted bodies covered with long, eyebrow-like hairs and their little yellow heads that look more like larvae demons than moths. As appalling as it is to have one of them fall from the trees upon you, it’s just as grotesque to have them crapping on you.
Just like you can hear them chomping away in large numbers, you can also hear them defecating. These group poop sessions sound similar to rainfall. Also, the hairs from these caterpillars can cause an ugly, itchy rash lasting up to two weeks. So, be careful not to handle them. But honestly, who would choose to?
Although they eventually turn into harmless little moths, even then they’re not a picture-perfect, Kodak moment. The adult male gypsy moth has dark, triangular eyes with large, feathery antennae resembling bat ears. Up close, these guys look like evil little fiends.
The females are not capable of flying. After emerging from their pupal stage, they just creep and crawl about much like the caterpillars they once were. Unfortunately, ugly never skips a generation with gypsy moths!
4 Bikini Or Muumuu?
May is the harbinger of pool party invites and the official start of public beach season. Each year, we all go, “Yaay!” Then most of us look in the mirror and scream, “Booo!” Body issues and body shaming have become epidemic in our society, and they turn lethal this time of year whenever we shop for swimsuits.
Females of all ages fear, fret, and fuss while shopping for beachwear, not to mention when actually wearing their selections to the sandy shores. But is this dilemma exclusively for women or do men suffer from swimsuit phobia, too?
Men also have body issues, which generally start in school and continue throughout their lives. An equal number of men suffer from body dysmorphic disorder in which they have irrational perceptions of their physiques (just as women can).
One man for every 10 women suffers with anorexia. Eating disorders in general, including bulimia, are increasing for males. The term “bigorexia,” or muscle dysmorphia, pertains to men who just can’t get big enough through bodybuilding. They will often ignore social events to get to the gym, even when suffering from a joint injury due to weight lifting.
The use of steroids is epidemic with men suffering from this syndrome. Most of them remain untreated because they don’t believe they have a problem even though they are constantly looking into mirrors.
According to recent surveys, men are more concerned about their appearance than their health, career, or family. Approximately 44 percent feel uncomfortable wearing a swimsuit. Likewise, 60 percent of women would not feel comfortable posting a beach picture on social media. In fact, one-third of Americans would rather go to the dentist than wear a swimsuit in public.
This issue is not going away anytime soon. As long as beauty and fitness magazine covers portray perfectly toned and tanned models, most people are going to retain negative body issues. It seems to be part of life for the average American, but so is cannonball diving and beach volleyball.
So, unless you’re Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company, skip the muumuu and just have some fun. Smiling is one aspect of our bodies that’s always welcome in any venue!
3 Memorial Day Mayhem
Not only is Memorial Day celebrated in honor of our fallen soldiers, but it is also the unofficial start of summer. It is a day to barbecue by the pool, camp out, fly the flag, and, of course, drink plenty of beer!
It is also the first of the summertime patriotic holidays celebrated each year. Even though we plan this event (which falls on the last Monday in May) meticulously with guest lists, shopping lists, and liquor store runs, mayhem still often ensues.
A recent poll showed that 60 percent of Americans planned to barbecue over the Memorial Day weekend, which is also the second busiest time of the year for beer sales. This combination surely contributes to the 25 percent increase in home cooking fires on this particular holiday.
Memorial Day celebrants are notorious for sucking suds, with beer sales for the holiday averaging $381 million (21 million cases). Likewise, 44 percent of traffic deaths are related to alcohol, and an estimated 47,000 injuries from car accidents occur on this weekend each year. It only takes a quick search on YouTube to find a slew of brawls caught on camera during this festive weekend.
So let’s keep the sentiment of Memorial Day in mind as we party and do so responsibly this year (no brawling or at least no cameras). Even if we’re holding a Bud Light in one hand and a fire extinguisher in the other, let us remember to thank our veterans for serving and to honor those who never made it back for us to thank.
2 Walley World Syndrome
Memorial Day weekend unofficially inaugurates the start of vacation season—that time of year when we drive, fly, or backpack out of town to celebrate summer and work on our tan lines. According to a Finnish study, the ideal length of a vacation is eight days.
So, fine, with that time frame in mind, we can start planning a trip. We need a destination, a budget, and a mode of transportation. Most importantly, we need to keep one thing in mind and Murphy said it best: “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong!”
Let’s start with departures. Airlines often overbook a flight because up to 15 percent of people with reservations pull a no-show. If you travel frequently, this is bound to happen to you. If Murphy is right, it’ll probably happen even if you fly just once in your life.
Nobody likes getting bumped from his scheduled flight, but throwing a tantrum at the gate will not help in the least. However, there are steps you can take to prevent getting bumped.
Remember to check in online from home before you even try to arrive at the airport early. If you can, book a nonstop flight and get a seat assignment when you do. If possible, fly first class or business class as you are more likely to be given preferential treatment. If you still get bumped, get a confirmed seat on another flight. Don’t just settle for a priority standby. You might just get bumped again.
Now let’s talk arrivals. You’re probably going to want to rent a car, and we all know how consistently unreliable these companies are with their reservations. Then there are the other issues like billing discrepancies and poor vehicular conditions.
This problem has become so bad with a few US rental car companies that the Better Business Bureau has actually requested that law enforcement in several states get involved. Also, rentals are frequently stolen these days. Don’t be surprised if you’re held responsible for all damages, which might include the price of a replacement vehicle. Having comprehensive auto insurance, both personally and at the rental counter, will help tremendously in the event of such misfortune.
When you arrive at your hotel, you might find that you’ve been bumped. You might even lose your dinner reservation. When you hail a cab, you might get bumped by the door as someone else jumps in first. And when you finally find a fast-food restaurant, you might get bumped from behind into the counter face-first.
As terrible as all that might be, take heart that it’ll all be over come Monday morning and you’ll be back at work with a hefty hangover, wishing you were still on vacation.
1 Enough With The Fluff
All right, so you finally made it through the chaotic month of May in one piece. Then, just as you’re starting to plan for the supposedly better month of June, you find yourself suddenly engulfed in the most terrible infestation of spring. Yes, it is time once again for that most horrible of all invasive and intrusive nuisances across America—cottonwood tree fluff.
It usually begins late in May and continues throughout June. The cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides, P. fremontii, and P. nigra) is native to North America and can grow well over 30 meters (100 ft) tall.
These are beautiful, sturdy trees with rich golden autumn foliage, and they are probably too massive for a small yard. But if you do choose to purchase one, may we suggest that you buy a male tree?
In the spring, the female trees produce seed pods surrounded by fuzzy cotton-like fibers called catkins. They spread by the wind far and wide in great numbers so that it often looks as if it’s been snowing. These catkins end up on every surface, including water, and they often clog pool filters as well as fences.
They travel throughout the neighborhood and get into people’s yards, into their gardens, and even inside their homes. Catkins are particularly hazardous to HVAC systems. This cottony plague is so overwhelming that neighbors often complain to municipal officials—with just cause as piles of this fluff are known to be very flammable.
But come autumn, after all the fluff has been raked, shoveled, and hauled, the cottonwood trees with their brilliant, golden leaves return as tokens of American beauty. All will be fine for a good six months until spring rolls around and we all begin again to dread the advent of the merry month of May.