“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.” – George Carlin
I’m not saying there are werewolves running amok in downtown Lewiston.
I’m just saying there probably are.
A few years back, I wrote a fairly tedious feature story about the full moon and its reported affect on crime and mayhem. In reporting the story, I talked to all the usual suspects: veteran cops, nurses, medics, scientists, school teachers and possibly Lon Chaney himself.
Opinions at the time were mixed on the matter. Some people — nurses and psychiatric workers in particular — swore that the full moon had a dramatic influence on the minds of their fellow man. People go absolutely crazy when the moon starts getting fat, they said. Patients become unruly. Emergency rooms are filled to the rafters. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting somebody whose gone off the deep end, and if you’re swinging a dead cat in the first place, it’s probably because you’re all moon drunk.
Science-oriented types, on the other hand, scoffed at the idea, in that mincing, pointy-bearded way that they have. They offered dry chuckles, stroked their beards and then went on about how it was nonsense to believe that the moon’s position in the cosmos has any influence at all on human behavior.
The notion that the moon affects human water content the way it affects the tides? Rubbish, they said. The anecdotes from one end of the planet to the other? Hysterical ravings from soft minds. The entire notion, they said, was nothing more than a “cultural fossil” — jumped-up astrology that should have been left in the Dark Ages.
Though beardless, I began to share that opinion. After all, I’d been working the nighttime police beat for a lot of years and I never noticed any spike in weirdness around the time of the full moon. It had been my observation that in downtown Lewiston, people will bark at the moon whether it is there or not.
Maybe it really WAS nonsense. Maybe science was right and I should start growing a pointy beard at once.
I slapped the headline “Myths of the Full Moon” on the top of my story and I snootily moved on. I had become a nonbeliever.
Then I began to experience monthly periods and my mind changed completely.
OK, I didn’t really get my period, but it kind of felt that way. Every month, in the days preceding the full moon, I would begin to feel out of sorts. I’d become short-tempered and impulsive. My thoughts would turn gloomy and my outlook uncharacteristically pessimistic. I’d stay up until dawn and then find it near impossible to get to sleep. I suffered a kind of inner itch as powerful and distant as the moon itself.
It happened every month, without fail, as soon as the moon began puffing out its cheeks up there in the black sky. I began waiting for my face to sprout hair and my incisors to grow long and sharp, but nope. I’m no Michael Landon. If I want any of that action, I’ll have to go to Rite-Aid and buy a $10 costume.
So, with my beliefs on the moon matter utterly swayed, I started asking around again and, would you look at that? People are still divided on the matter and believers are still as passionate as ever.
“Work in a kindergarten class around the full moon,” said one school teacher, “and we can talk.”
“I wasn’t superstitious until I became a nurse,” said another woman. “I believe in the power of the moon now.”
“Full moons do affect the brain,” said a young mother. “My daughter has a seizure disorder and full moons would be when she would seize more. She has been seizure-free for six years in November, but I know many families with children or themselves with the same disorder dread the full moon phase.”
A pet owner claims her epileptic dog has seizures on every full moon. A local bartender said you can always count on drinkers to be extra unruly at that time of the month. I even heard from a carnival worker who insists that people are five times as obnoxious at the fairs when the moon is full.
Meanwhile, a veteran cop and former paramedic said, naw. There’s nothing to that full moon business. It’s just an excuse knuckleheads come up with to explain bizarre behavior, which happens no matter what’s going on in the sky.
Everybody’s right? Everybody’s wrong? As is so often the case, I have no clue. And if there is something to this moon action, I have no idea whether it’s mystical or pure biology. All I know is that the past few days have been a misery of dark thoughts, sleepless nights and deep aches in distant regions of the bones.
And I know that come Wednesday, after the moon has completed her ancient ritual of fattening, it will all go away and I’ll be my sunny self again. It’s a cycle so regular, I’ve come to count on it.
Which concerns me some because, should a month come along where I’m mysteriously not influenced by the moon, that might mean I’m pregnant, right?
Ain’t nobody got time for that.