Today is an auspicious day. Or is it a suspicious day? The prudent individual will assume both.
(As far as I’m concerned, every day is a suspicious day. And not just because I’m paranoid.)
What makes today auspicious / suspicious?
It should be obvious to you, dear reader, if you bothered to read the title. It’s Balloon Ascension Day … and it’s Marlowe and the Spacewoman Release Day!
What are these two glorious holidays, you ask?
Do I have to go to work today, you wonder?
Was I supposed to buy people presents today, you worry?
The answers, in reverse order, are:
No, though you could always get your friends and family a book anyway (more on that in a second).
Yes, unfortunately, you do, but perhaps a book to read during lunch would help get you through it (more on that is imminent, I promise).
Marlowe and the Spacewoman Release Day is the day my book is released into the wild, and as such, I would hold that it is an excellent candidate for purchasing for yourself or your loved ones, should any of you find yourselves at work or wishing you had a present.
Balloon Ascension Day, while seemingly a self-evident holiday, perhaps requires a bit more explanation, which I feel duty-bound to provide.
The Origins of Balloon Ascension Day
The first Balloon Ascension Day was, paradoxically, marked by the descent of a zeppelin, which explains why it is celebrated as Zeppelin Declension Day in Canada and the British Virgin Islands.
On January 9th, 1863, the Confederacy attempted to kidnap Abraham Lincoln using a battle zeppelin. It landed on the front lawn of the White House shortly after the dinner hour, while the President was sitting on the stoop, enjoying a Mint Julep (“Puts hair on your chest!,” President Lincoln was often heard to declare when defending his preference for the Southern drink).
The zeppelin disgorged a crack team of Confederate Special Forces, which in those days weren’t called ‘special forces’ but ‘Herr Balloners’ because they were Prussian mercenaries and they rode around in giant, football-shaped balloons. They also wore puffy pink uniforms, leading Union special forces members (Swedish mercenaries who excelled at hand-to-hand combat and deep tissue massage) to call them, rather derogatorily, the ‘Falling Poofters’.
You wouldn’t think President Lincoln would find a bunch of puffy pink mercenaries spilling out of a bobbing balloon all that threatening, but his first words upon seeing them were reported to be, “Holy sh*t!” He then stripped bare to the waist, flexed his pecs while Mary Todd oiled them, and shot the mercenaries with his revolver, Hemingway-style, killing them all before the Union guards even knew they’d arrived.
Yes, Mary Todd was that fast with the oil.
He had the bodies piled into a mound, jabbed the ol’ Stars and Strips into the middle of them, Iwo Jima-style, and declared, “I declare today, January 9th, to be Balloon Ascension Day.”
It is assumed his confusion with ascension vs. declension was brought about by adrenaline. Either way, he’d just killed ten men with one revolver, and no one was about to correct him.
A hastily called joint session of Congress, finding itself on the wrong end of a President Lincoln with a revolver and a dangerous glint in his eye, quickly passed the new holiday into law. As a compromise with the Southern delegation (they were trying to avoid even more war with the South), they dropped the requirement for time off from work and the mandatory giving of lighter-than-air gifts.
Also, balloons of a certain color were devalued, only counting as three-fifths of a white balloon.
This shameful caving in on the value of balloons of a certain shade was not corrected until after the Civil War ended, when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified.
That is why today, and every January 9th, we celebrate Balloon Ascension Day! Or, if you’re a Canuck or a Limey Virgin Islander, Zeppelin Declension Day!
And I can’t think of a better way for you to celebrate this fine holiday or the bravery of President Lincoln than by purchasing Marlowe and the Spacewoman: