SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

April IS the Cruelest Month!
By Dave Kiffer


April 27, 2007

Ketchikan, Alaska - I'm pretty sure that T.S. Eliot was not thinking of my adolescence when he penned "The Waste Land" but he wasn't far off.
jpg Dave Kiffer

April was always a bad month when I was in my teens.

For example, I was "broken up with" three straight Aprils in high school. Each year by the same young woman. But I guess that was more a case of "if you don't succeed, try, try (and fail) again."

When I got to college, my major long term relationship broke up in - you guessed it - April. Post college, I had two other significant relationships run aground in - drum roll please - April.

Even these days I always issue a silent sigh of relief when an April passes without my long-suffering wife Charlotte serving me papers.

To be sure, not all my relationships have ended in April. When you have had as many end as I have over the years, the simple laws of probability deem that occasionally one may happen in another month. For example, I have found December, September and July to be pretty danged cruel in their own rights. But, as usual, I digress.

I think that part of the problem is that in Alaska we have a boom or bust mentality toward relationships.

I remember years ago researching marriage licenses and discovering that in Alaska there was a big blip in the license numbers in the late fall (October, November) and that there was a similar big blip in divorce petitions in - you guessed it - April.

Given that Alaskans are a highly tax conscious society, I assumed that it was merely folks trying to get in under the New Year's wire before the Jan. 1 tax deadline (and there were a lot of December 31st marriages to indicate that). All of the deduction for the year and none of the headache of actually living together until the last day!

But the numbers held up even in those halcyon days in Alaska's history when there weren't taxes to consider. Overall, a lot of folks in this state got married in the fall and divorced in the spring. Quite a few did both in the same year.

So what was it. Was April really the cruelest month?

In some ways, yes.

Especially back in the days when - even in Alaska - shacking up without the benefit of matrimony - holy or otherwise - was frowned upon.

For whatever reason, an awful lot of - as opposed to a lot of awful - folks didn't want to face the cold, cruel winter alone. It was a societal variation on "closing time" at the bars. As the year ended and the days got shorter, people of the opposite sex started to look a whole lot better than they looked at the start of happy hour earlier in the year, so to speak.

As a result, there were more than a few ill-advised pre-winter pairing offs.

Then comes spring, the time of rebirth, when everything seems possible and options abound. What you settled for five months before is not worth sticking with anymore. The brighter days make it easier to look in the mirror and not like the reflection of the galoot (male or female) standing next to you.

So the result was a lot of people reassessed their options in April. Of course, that didn't mean that they weren't still lining up to catch the last ship out of Singledom the next October. But at least for the summer, they were willing to play the field.

Probably the most egregious example of this was one local couple that married and divorced each other five times over a seven year period. Each marriage was in the fall and each divorce was in the spring. Coincidence? I think not.

That was back in the 1980s, so I have no idea whether or not that couple is still "pairing off" at Closing Time or whether they finally got a ride on the Clue Bus like my high school flame and I eventually did.

Until recently, I assumed that this "boom and bust" was an Alaskan sort of thing, but it appears that it's a nationwide trend.

According to one of those websites that offers relationship "advice" (no, I did not intentionally log on, it came over the transom in a spam attack, but of course I opened it, the headline was "Is April the Cruelest?") April is the month when most relationships nationwide fall apart.

I'm not sure where they got their information (the census bureau records marriages and divorces but not the number of times someone gets "dumped." ). It may have simply been anecdotal (and I would be Exhibit Number One).

Perhaps, some government agency paid for a study and some researcher dug up the info by talking to lots of folks (for a research fee of $500,000 no doubt).

Maybe like 90 percent of the information on the web, they got it from another website. The "information revolution" of the WWW is really just a computer aided game of "telephone" at best.

I'm also not sure what good knowing that information about April is, of course. Other than the realization that in Alaska, the "Seven Year Itch" is probably more like a "Five Month" one.

I guess it helps to know that April is a tough time. Be extra nice to your spouse-lover-partner-POSSLQ (person of opposite sex sharing living quarters) during the Ides of April!

For if you aren't careful in April, you might find yourself racing to beat the October Termination Dust Clock at Closing Time.


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2007

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