Comparing Past Mays
May 1984 vs. May 1994 vs. May 2004
Winner: 1994--Easy choice here as I had a spring in my step in 1994 for a variety of reasons. The most memorable recurring themes from the month was my escalating immersion in country music during its peak creative period. And the long-awaited "MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis" movie finally aired on ABC, sadly wasted on a weak Saturday time slot where it nonetheless did reasonably good numbers. The movie disappointed a bit but I still enjoyed it. I was on the precipice of my first major revisit of 1980s TV by month's end, one of a few reasons why I was poised to have my best summer of my high school years.
May 1985 vs. May 1995 vs. May 2005
Winner: 2005--Two good choices here as 1985 was the dawn of my baseball card collecting era and the month where I went to my first Minnesota Twins game. But 2005 was better as I went back to the folks' place for an extended summer break, complete with unemployment, after getting the heave-ho from the newspaper in March. It felt good to reconnect with my rural upbringing and to relax after three years of running nonstop with very little vacation time. A top memory was heading up to the Minnesota Capitol with my dad to take in a day watching the Minnesota Legislature in action, foreshadowing the new job I would start months later with the Iowa Legislature.
May 1986 vs. May 1996 vs. May 2006
Winner: 2006--No dominant winner here but my first legislative session in Iowa ended early in May 2006 and I got my first taste of the laid-back interim period for the rest of the month, with the backdrop of exciting seasons of "Prison Break" and "24" on TV and the most engaging midterm election cycle of my life.
May 1987 vs. May 1997 vs. May 2007
Winner: 1997--It's very seldom I face three choices this great at the same time. I had my first experience with a girl I was crushing on returning the favor in May 1987 as my third-grade classmate who just found out I liked her was flirting with me pretty hard in the final weeks of the school year in a way she never did the following school year. In May 2007 I got to go on an unforgettable southern Iowa road trip with a girl I had really strong chemistry with, despite the road blocks ahead for her and I. But the ladies of 1987 and 2007 ultimately lose out to the elated feeling of liberation I felt in May 1997 when I finished my dreadful freshman year of college and began to embark on the first-rate summer back home that followed, complete with a summer job I loved at the rural electric coop that I started the day after Memorial Day. Hard to express the jubilation and sense of release I felt walking off campus that day in mid-May and knowing that, at least for the next three months, I'd be able to reconnect with my comfort zone.
May 1988 vs. May 1998 vs. May 2008
Winner: 1988--From three excellent choices to three mediocre-to-poor choices. Pretty sad when the best option of the three is the month you were punished for forging your mom's signature to a fourth-grade report card and got "MacGyver" taken away for the rest of the school year! The upside was in the absence of great TV I was able to reconnect with my baseball card collecting in what was arguably the peak year for the hobby. One specific memory from May 1987 was going to a baseball card show with my dad and his friend in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and hitting every gas station on the drive home looking for wax boxes of Fleer sold at 45 cents a pack despite their scarcity inflating the places to more than double that most places. We scored a couple of wax boxes too, both at Kwik Trip stores.
May 1989 vs. May 1999 vs. May 2009
Winner: 1989--Going into May 1999 it seemed pretty likely that would be the slam-dunk winner of this trio as I was returning home from my junior year of college planning to return to my mail-carrying job from the summer before and reconnect with the coworker I had hit it off with the summer prior....until 10 minutes after I got home and realized both the job and the girl would be returning to my life and the bottom fell out of May 1999 very quickly. By contrast, 1989 was a slow and steady month where I had one of my best academic performances (straight A's in fifth grade) and where we took a class trip to Valleyfair and "MacGyver" was wrapping up its best season so it was a pretty good time.
May 1990 vs. May 2000 vs. May 2010
Winner: 1990--As always, plenty to love in both 1990 and 2000, but as is the case more often than not, 1990 wins. I was on the precipice of my favorite summer of all-time, the first where I wouldn't have to to spend the days at the babysitter's, the first when I had Nintendo, the first when I had "MacGyver" on videotape, the first when I fell in love with road-tripping, and the first where I had a sneak preview of the new fall TV season before Memorial Day. Not sure I really knew at the time how much I was gonna love that summer but it was definitely a place and time where there was something in the air.
May 1991 vs. May 2001 vs. May 2011
Winner: 2001--None of these were great across the board but 1991 and 2011 both had ups and downs while 2001 was a more mundane but steady drumbeat towards better times, with the longest winter in Upper Midwest history finally yielding to warmer weather. I was at peak road trip fever at this time, living at the folks' place and plotting out my adventures years in advance.
May 1992 vs. May 2002 vs. May 2012
Winner: 1992--The best part of the spring of 1992 was my semiregular visits to my grandma's place where I piecemealed a VHS collection of USA "MacGyver" reruns episode by episode after the series officially ended on ABC (with the "lost episode" airing this month). The Democratic primary fight had passed by that point so my politics fascination had waned, but replacing that on my daily routine was listening to baseball games on the radio from the world champion Minnesota Twins. Ending eighth grade and being about to embark on another boyhood summer also excited me.
May 1993 vs. May 2003 vs. May 2013
Winner: 2003--I got an unexpected treat in an otherwise lackluster period when "the new girl" at work, a 21-year-old blond who caught my eye right away, started dating me. There were extenuating circumstances that kept me from letting my excitement build too high, but it was a needed ego boost and has little competition from its peers.
So that wraps up the month of May and my yearlong "contest" overall. It was a fun experiment even if it occasionally got tedious mining some of the same territory that wasn't all that different from previous subsets of months. I will say that 30 years from now I suspect it would be much harder to do this for the years 2014 to 2044 simply because as an adult approaching middle age I've fallen into a predictable routine where it's harder to distinguish month to month. With that in mind, don't put it past me to dream up an alternative venue to categorize nostalgic months of the past again at some point in the future.