It is almost a commonplace that Monday mornings are terrible things, hallways of the melancholy and gruesome, abiding disasters of returns to reality. The weekend over, the oppressed resident of the week must return to his normal haunts, the workplace, the company of others, the strains and oppressions of routine. This is the accepted wisdom, enshrined in popular culture and our shared understanding of the structure of the week.
But it seems to me Sunday evenings are much worse. The morning of the Monday we are forced to confront weekday reality, to come to grips with its imposition of the mundane, but during the evening of the Sunday preceding it, weekday reality does much worse: it threatens us, inchoate and formless, permeating the weekend’s closing hours, and exacting a grim tax, shortening and cutting it off in its dying hours. This gloomy warning, to my mind, renders the Sunday evening the most melancholic phase of the week. Indeed, if I had to refine it further, I would say the wintertime Sunday evening is the single most depressing stretch of hours in the one hundred and sixty-eight that make up the winter week. If you want to get really specific, the East Coast Winter Sunday Evening is the worst of all. The darkness of Non-Daylight Savings Time closes in with indecent haste; the winds grow sharper and keener; we retreat indoors, for there is little entertainment planned; nothing too elaborate may be done, for as we all know, yup, you guessed it, Monday oppresses us. Sunday evenings are a time to regress, to hunker down. Little social contact is possible, for all around us, panicked preparations for Mondays are underway. The fear of the Monday morning infects much that comes before; it seemingly freezes the human blood.
Over the years, as I became aware of the Sunday evening’s malignancy, I’ve tried many different tactics to ward off the gloom it imposes. These distractions, palliatives and bromides have been a mixture of the usual suspects: immersion in long-form entertainments, sports, workouts, comfort foods, and yes, imbibing alcohol. None works, none seems able to lighten that somber cloud. Somehow the Monday Melancholia creeps in, sneaks up on me, taps me on the shoulder, and finally, lays me low. It has not mattered whether or not I teach on Mondays; whatever it is that Monday is supposed to bring, Sunday evening is its early reminder, its storm warning. Bedtime is a relief; enough warning and premonition, the time for confrontation awaits us after our blessedly unconscious traversal of the night. Indeed, the morning beckons with the promise of rejuvenating pleasures: the bracing caffeinated rush of the morning cuppa, the exhilarating hot shower. At that moment alone, perhaps, the morning’s bite loses just a bit of its nip.
Perhaps the best thing then, about the Sunday evening is that it makes the Monday morning considerably more benign. Nothing can quite live up to such advertising, no actual threat can live up to such extreme anticipation.