Novem­ber

Fashion (Canada) - - The Market Moments - How the month was saved. By Sheila Heti

THERE HAD ONCE BEEN SOME­THING

so beau­ti­ful—as bit­ter and sweet as the dark­est choco­late and as dark as the dark­est blue. It was the word Novem­ber. That word caused a rum­ble deep in­side. Some­thing peace­ful, icy and still. Novem­ber slid the sum­mer be­hind it fully. It also hid the fall. It tow­ered over the sum­mer and the fall. It was the cur­tain to win­ter, a cur­tain that opened in Novem­ber to some­thing new and dy­ing in the year. It was a solemn word for a solemn time, and no one could say Novem­ber of­ten enough to kill the quiet magic of the sound. That word is a shy girl with dark hair and dark eyes, a shy young man with dark hair and dark eyes who has gone away in all his shy­ness to blush and mourn in pri­vate.

Then some ya­hoos, who weren’t con­vinced by the beauty of the word Novem­ber, branded it Movem­ber, and men wore mous­taches to sig­nify… some­thing. And the word Novem­ber, which started with a strong and solemn “No,” now be­gan with a ridicu­lous cow­like “Moo.”

It was just that kind of world, now. Some­one is al­ways al­lowed, and en­cour­aged, to kill what has lasted, to change and re­name what is quiet, alone, apart and beau­ti­ful—some­thing icy that has noth­ing to do with rais­ing money or young men and their beards, that has noth­ing to do with peo­ple. When Novem­ber be­came Movem­ber, it was like the sky had fallen in and re­vealed a fake tacky sky painted like the real sky but fooling no one. Will we ever see Novem­ber again? Who could we string up, in the pub­lic square, for the sin of de­stroy­ing it and mak­ing Movem­ber? Who could be dis­mem­bered, pub­licly, on a pub­lic ta­ble? Who could be strung up and shot? All the men with their “pu­bic hair mous­taches,” as we called them in the sev­enth and eighth grades be­cause the boys who wore them then had al­most no hair on their up­per lips. Pu­bic hair-vem­ber. Why not? I went out with my ma­chete, and any man I saw in the month of Novem­ber with a barely sprout­ing mous­tache that put in my head that hor­ri­ble word I cut in two and let him bleed in the gut­ter and cov­ered him with a dy­ing leaf—a dead red leaf or a yel­low one—to eu­lo­gize the beauty of Novem­ber.

Then there were re­ports in the pa­per and on TV of what I was go­ing around do­ing. The men who saw me com­ing with my ma­chete turned and ran the other way, but I was too fast; I cut them down and lay upon their bod­ies a dy­ing or dead leaf, of am­ber or gold.

I was the hero of Novem­ber: The word was saved, and po­etry was re­turned to the cal­en­dar. The sec­ondto-last month of the dy­ing year no longer meant hairs sprout­ing on the up­per lip of some un­bear­able man. It meant cold new days fol­low­ing soberly on leaves of red, ma­roon, or­ange, gold, am­ber, brown and yel­low.

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