Feb. 2 has come and gone and once again, we have foolishly entrusted a large rodent with six weeks worth of weather forecasting. This year they had a whole entourage of guys who wanted to cram into the Groundhog Day action, but there’s one head groundhog aficionado who’s in charge when they open up Punxsutawney Phil’s cage. Both man and beast are dressed to the nines, one in a top hat and tux, the other in a full-length fur, flaunting it in the face of PETA. Both wearing tails. There is a strict formal dress code at the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

I guess the guy with the hat is the president of the club, although without the groundhog, it’s just a bunch of overdressed dudes running around looking a little too happy to be at the party. I wonder whether, when the groundhog takes a plane trip, he’s allowed to bring the guy in the top hat along for emotional support.

A groundhog is the same as a woodchuck, so you could call it Woodchuck Day if you want and no one would fault you for it. It is a species of marmot, which is a large rodent similar in nature to a squirrel, only with larger nuts. A hedgehog is a different animal, however, and if one of those comes up to you and tries to forecast the weather, I would call the cops.

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Top Hat is grinning from earmuff to earmuff as he holds his weather associate aloft for all to behold. The groundhog doesn’t seem too into it, but why should he smile? He’s just been woken up possibly SIX WEEKS early from a perfectly good hibernation. Hey, Top Hat, stick me where the sun don’t shine! Wouldn’t you just see your damn shadow so you can sleep in? Filibuster until the sun comes out from behind the cloud. Tell a few hedgehog jokes, maybe a witty anecdote you heard at a party from a raccoon-teur.

I’m distrustful of those who smile too much while they work. You never saw Don Rickles smile once when he was doing his best stuff. Newscasters beaming while they read the news do not boost my confidence that what they are saying is true. If I get into a cab and the driver looks too happy, I know he’s going to try to talk to me, making eye contact with me through the rearview mirror. Who’s making eye contact with the road?

I also have concerns regarding animals vis-a-vis weather prognostication. I actually don’t know what “vis-a-vis” means, but it makes me look smarter to use important sounding words and not know what they mean. Which is brave, but I also don’t know the meaning of the word “fear.”

Why ask a groundhog what the weather is going to be like? Why not use a giraffe? If you paraded a giraffe out there, it could look right up into the clouds and provide a more accurate assessment. Not only would you get the weather report, you could get the current time, as well, if you knew how to read a sundial.

I remember recently they were using an octopus to predict things like the sex of the royal baby. That seems far less useful than predicting the sex of adults, which is hit or miss, speaking from personal experience. The modern way to forecast the weather is to use the “European model,” but the last time I asked her if there was going to be an early spring, she said, “Your hair is BOR-ing.”

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