Dog Day Afternoon
by Gwynne Hunt
What are dog-days? I thought about it today when I decided to write about dog day afternoons. Because that is where I am right now, in the middle of dog days, stagnant and trying to pull myself out of my lethargy. There are a lot of bad dog metaphors I could use right now but won’t in favour of good taste. (maybe later) But let’s for a moment consider the dog day phrase. What does it mean?
I did not know until I checked on Wikapedia, the free on-line encyclopedia and discovered that it is in fact a time period from July to August. Unless you live on the West Coast, these are the hot, sultry days of summer. In the rainland we never get a whole summer; just bits and pieces of dog-days. To be more precise with the meaning, if you dig deeper than Wikepedia (and most dogs do), it is the time period from July 3 to August 11 when Sirius, the dog-star rises and sets with the sun. Romans called this phenomenon ‘caniculares dies’ or as it was translated to in the early 1500s – dog days. The phrase has also become known as a period of stagnation as in “it is hard to get much done during these dog days”.
Doggone it, I knew it. I sat down and reflecedt on the situation and had to agree that the time period between July and September is plagued with dogged laziness. (even if it is raining half the time) How hard is it to work in the summer? Very hard. The sun is shining, people are walking around in jelly shoes, tube tops, flip flops; nothing to take serious there. There is a reason the sign says, ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’. Contrary to the sanitary notion, it is really posted because nobody can take a guy with a bare hairy chest lisping that he wants eggs benedict. I mean to do business you need to be a power suit or at least a pair of good jeans with a nice blouse.
“Yes, I want to transfer $10,000 to my offshore account”, she said as she rearranged her breasts in her lime green tube top and dangled her flip flop from one delicately pink painted toenail.
It’s a dog eat dog world out there and you can’t compete in jelly shoes. So, because we don’t want to dress up, we procrastinate, extend deadlines and put off the work that has to be done, preferring instead to laze around the back yard with a lemonade and dog-eared copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.
If you are a stock broker or play the stock market, dog days has a different meaning. Typically, summer is a slow time for the stock market so it is referred to as the dog days of summer and poor performing stocks are known as ‘dogs’. I wonder if German Shepherds get annoyed at being used as a symbol for something that is not performing well.
Even sports fans are familiar with the phrase, as the summer is a boring period in the sports arena. Unless of course you are poolside, bar side watching toned men play volleyball in bathing suits. But we’re not talking about pub sports, we are taking about athletic events. With the exception of baseball, most of the college and professional sports teams are not in season. Even television offers a dog’s breakfast of shows during the re-run period of summer.
Dogs themselves are blamed for the phrase, dog days . . . I mean, just look at them in the summer. They lie around; lift their heads with no enthusiasm when the mailman comes. What’s up with that? Their behaviour gives a whole new meaning to dog-tired.
Then there is that famous and often-quoted movie; Dog Day Afternoon. Sydney Lumet directed this film noir in1975 about a bank robbery in New York. This is the film where the famous ATTICA chant is introduced by Al Pacino as the crowd pleasing character Sonny. This was based on a true story that took place on a dog day afternoon. I mean,” if you can’t keep up with the big dogs, puppy, stay on the porch”, as the St Bernard said to the Chihuahua
All I know is, Sirius has little to do with my lazy afternoons as they stretch out a lot longer than July 3 to Aug 11; like most folks as soon as the calendar flips over to July 1, I look at the world through southern eyes, walk a bit slower, start my days a bit later and stay up until the dog and pony show is over.