My dad used to make up goofy puns that would get the whole family laughing (or groaning, as the case may be). One day, he said something about “the forty-eleventh of Octember,” and then I chimed in with “yeah—in Nineteen Ninety-Twelve!” Well, that date is still approaching as I am writing this—and here’s how I figure it:

“Forty-eleven” would be forty-nine plus two, or fifty-one. Do you follow me so far?

Of course, no month has more than thirty-one days. But Dad provided for that with his “Octember”, which has to mean October continued into November. If November 1 (the day AFTER October 31) is counted as “Octember thirty-second”, then 19 days after that (November 20) would be “Octember fifty-first”. So “the forty-eleventh of Octember” would be the same as November 20. Are you still with me?

OK… so now we have to deal with the year, Nineteen Ninety-Twelve. This one’s easy: it’s three years after Nineteen Ninety-Nine (1999), which is, of course, 2002. So there’s our funny date in normal terms: November 20, 2002!

Of course, one could continue this nonsense indefinitely, but I think there’s a limit to it (or at least should be). If Ninety-Twelve sounds a little contrived, certainly Ninety-Thirteen is much worse. In German, it’s no better: Zwolf und Neunzig advances to Dreizehn und Neunzig, which sounds very Dumm. If I were Hispanic, I could get away with this until 2005: Mil Novecientos Noventa y Quince (Nineteen Ninety-Fifteen in English). The “teens” don’t start in Spanish until dieciseis (sixteen)!

At any rate, I sure hope that 2002 is a better year for all of us than 2001 was. The world needs peace and security, not more terrorism. Let’s pray for a good one!