Today is Groundhog Day in the United States, one of those throwaway observations that gets some cute stories in the news about a rodent spotting its shadow and a handful of opportunistic sales events sandwiched in between MLK Day and Presidents’ Day. It’s ubiquitous enough to make it into the papers and the home page of your preferred search engine, but not significant enough to get a day off work.
I primarily remember Groundhog Day as a career-shadowing day for high school students. When I was in high school, I spent one “Groundhog Shadowing Day,” as the administration called it, shadowing a college history professor at the University of South Carolina-Aiken. I remember being overawed by the specificity of the historical research papers his college students were writing (in the way a first grader marvels at a fifth grader who writes an entire paragraph, not just one sentence), and chuckling to myself at his pro-gun control op-eds. Even back then I knew college professors were loopy.
The following year I had the opportunity to shadow my State representative, who I remember as having a rather red-cheeked appearance and jovial manner. I was still under the impression that politicians were somehow elevated beings, people possessed of occasional foibles and shortcomings, but ultimately intent on serving the public interest. Ah, yes—the naïveté of youth. I’ll never forget an energy lobbyist slapping him on the back and telling me, “I know Skipper will look out for us.” Indeed.
Otherwise, Groundhog Day doesn’t loom large in my mind other than as a fun Bill Murray movie in which he woos a beautiful South Carolinian, Andie MacDowell. Indeed, that film seems to have brought the holiday into the larger consciousness of Americans, as it had largely been a Mid-Atlantic—Pennsylvanian, really—observance up to that point.