Cathy and the Worst Day Ever:
A Precautionary Tale of Bad Scientific Data When Applied to a Mentally Unbalanced Comic Strip Character
Today, January 24 has been crowned as the Worst. Day. Ever.
Is the midwinter weather wearing you down? Are you sinking in debt after the holidays? Angry with yourself for already breaking your New Year's resolutions? Wish you could crawl back under the covers and not have to face another day of rain, sleet, snow and paperwork? Probably. After all, it's Jan. 24, the “most depressing day of the year,” according to a U.K. psychologist.
Dr. Cliff Arnall went so far as to come up with an equation that proves his theory.
[W + (D-d)] x TQ M x NA The equation is broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.
I'm calling bullshit on this. I think Dr. Arnell is just one of those guys whose ego would not be satisfied until he had some weird scientific/psychological mumbo jumbo released in a world wide paper that would be quoted extensively on the internet (see, previously, Scientific Formula for Horror Movies). I also have my suspicions about where Dr. Arnall was mining his data from. Taking a closer look at the variables, Dr. Arnell has zeroed in a particular kind of person; one who is constantly quitting bad habits and failing; one who always promises herself that she will do more for herself, like exercise or lose weight or get organized, yet fails to accomplish that because she can't motivate herself and her life is filled with enablers that are not helping the situation; one who spends recklessly, probably buying handbags and hats she can't afford and justifying those expenses with phone calls to family members who will just agree with her justifications; one who complains constantly about the little things she has no control over, like weather and one whose life seems to revolve around family gatherings and holidays.
From those obvious criteria, it becomes evident that not only did Dr. Arnell not really study any human beings to come up with his pharmaceutical company-friendly theory, but he based all of his findings upon one entirely fictional person:
That's right. Dr. Arnell has formed his "scientific" theory based on one of the most one-dimensional comic strip characters to ever grace the funny pages. It's obvious now that you see it all in front of you, isn't it? The yo-yo weight, the procrastination, the on-again/off-again dieting, the constant bitching and complaining about everything around her - if ever there was a candidate for the chair/noose combo on this, the supposed worst day of the year, it's Cathy.
And today really would be a good day for Cathy to finally crack up. Her overbearing parents and her future in laws (it's been a while for me, I guess - I wasn't aware that Cathy was finally getting hitched) are dominating the wedding preparations. Between her mother and her mother-in-law to be, Cathy, who (as I remember her) is always just one step away from Prozac, should be sitting in a dark room right about now, rocking herself back and forth and mumbling something about the monkey that lives in her closet.
Dr. Arnell has, in a roundabout way, helped me discover something that should have been obvious to me long, long ago: Cathy is not well. Why Irving would marry her is a question for the ages. Did she wear him down with guilt? Is he just doing it because he figures at his age, he can't be choosy? Did he finally get tired of his parents asking him if he was ever going to give them grandchildren and he figured Cathy, with her womanly hips, was the perfect candidate? Doesn't Irving realize that Cathy is that Linkin Park song?
I can imagine her driving around town in her car, a box of donuts at her side, her razor sharp rage at an all time high - this wedding shit is killing her, man. She's fat, she's going to owe on her taxes this year and she's marrying a dead ringer for George Costanza. She's pounding the steering wheel and screaming along - one step closer to the edge, and I'm about to....break! And then it happens.
It's always the little things that light the fuse to the bigger blasts - maybe someone will cut her off. Maybe her hair keeps falling in her eyes. Something will trigger that enormous anger that has been building up inside her since her mother first called her chubby back in second grade and suddenly she's Michael Douglas in Falling Down, taking hostages, crashing cars and finally, in a culmination of years of lousy parenting advice, failed diets and Irving's passive aggressiveness, she puts the gun to her own head and pulls the trigger, right in front of her fiancé, his parents and her own parents. It's January 24, man. Worst. Day. Ever.
Thanks, Dr. Arnell.