Groundhog Day

18 Nov

from February 2, 2009

Today was Groundhog Day. This may be the one holiday that Hallmark doesn’t yet have a card for, but give them some time. (“Happy Groundhog Day! May you always be covered in warm moist fur.”) On this day, the nation holds its breath as some sort of fat furry rat sticks it head out of a hole. If it sees its shadow and goes back inside, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If it doesn’t see its shadow, it is then eligible to participate in the elimination round. If it manages to run a gauntlet of hungry cats and killer traps, the rat gets to go free and live in Brighton Beach. Think of it as The Running Man for groundhogs.

A groundhog is not actually a rat. It is some kind of burrowing animal, sort of a cross between a mole and a sea otter. The Native Americans who roamed the plains had a special name for it, ne-ha-coni-lee’a-twa. (Hey pal, I wouldn’t eat that if I were you.)

Here in the Northeast we are lucky to have two famous groundhogs, Paris Hilton and Jennifer Hudson. Ha! Just kidding. Paris Hilton is way too scrawny to be a groundhog, and Jennifer Hudson isn’t talented enough.

The one everyone knows is based in Pennsylvania, Paxitani, um Puxilasny, uh Plaxico, no, heck, let’s just call him Pete. He is world famous and, quite frankly, has a bit of a swelled head. The other one is based in Staten Island (he moved out of Brooklyn because of the high rent) and is simply known as Chuck. Yes, as in “woodchuck.” Make sense?

This year Staten Island Chuck had the good sense to bite Mayor Bloomberg. Way to go.

There is a bit of a battle this year. Pete says there will be six more weeks of winter. Chuck claims there will be an early spring. Vegas odds have Pete as a 3:1 favorite. Meteorologists world-wide are waiting with baited breath for the ruling from the WGHC. (World Groundhog Council.)

Remember, it is too soon to lay a bet on next year’s Groundhog Day.

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