To be brutally honest, I'm dreading this year's Groundhog Day. Being America's No. 1 groundhog and weather prognosticator is not all it's cracked up to be. It may seem glamorous, but there's a price to pay.
I do want to give a big shout out to all my friends, fans and supporters in Fairfield County. Thanks for all the likes on my Facebook page and the fabulous tweets about my new selfie. I had a rapturous time romping and foraging through your forests on a recent visit to Connecticut last summer. Most of all I'll remember Buffy, the adorable woodchuck who was kind enough to take me on a tour of the region and show me a great time.
Right now, I long for those carefree days. I'm feeling an incredible amount of angst over my upcoming responsibilities and have broken out with a nervous rash.
I love all the attention and am looking forward to the annual Breakfast with Phil and Groundhog Tour on Jan. 25 at the Punxsutawney Elks Club, but I wish I didn't have to go through with the Groundhog Day ceremony. I would rather chill all day on Gobbler's Knob and then watch the Super Bowl. Go Broncos!
Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of folks plan their ski holidays and spring plantings based on whether I see my shadow on Feb. 2, but I feel it's time I get on with my life and try to conquer new horizons, or at least move out of Pennsylvania.
Let's face it: Groundhog Day is just a lot of well-orchestrated hype which gives you humans another holiday to celebrate and a chance to obsess over the upcoming weather, which is crazy since no one has any control over the weather.
According to my fans, as of 2014, I've been making weather prognostications for more than 124 years. They will tell you that every summer I imbibe the mysterious Groundhog Elixir, which magically lengthens my life for seven years. It's my personal fountain of youth. Enough is enough; I really think it's time for a job change.
You wouldn't recognize the fun-loving groundhog I use to be. All the stress has led me to find a second home on the psychiatrist's couch and I've developed unsightly frown lines. Please understand I don't want to be just another job-related burnout.
What I really would like is if some talented cartoonist did a comic strip of my life like Garfield. I really am a lot cuter, have a cult following and do I have stories to tell. Or how about Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, flying me out to Los Angeles. He's made animated movies about dragons, pandas and green ogres. Jeffrey, have you ever considered making an animated movie featuring a weather prognosticating groundhog?
And there's always room for another talk show host. Dr. Punxsutawney Phil, therapist to the animal kingdom -- a sure hit. Oprah, give me a call! Remember my guest appearance on Groundhog Day, 1995. Come to think of it, what about MTV. I could be Phil, the Harley-riding, punk groundhog. I'd dye my hair purple, get a nose ring and lots of tats. Hey, it's show biz!
You're probably thinking to yourself, sure he wants to leave one high-profile job for another, with its equally high stress quotient. How can we be sympathetic to that type of thinking, especially when we have problems of our own to worry about?
The difference is that my temperament and sense of fun is more suited to the entertainment business. Let's face it, with the right type of marketing, this multifaceted and talented groundhog could capture the hearts of America in a big way.
I realize it might sound crazy but just stop and think about an unknown mouse named Mickey more than 70 years ago. Look out world, here comes Phil Groundhog. Not quite as catchy as Mickey Mouse, but my agent and I will have time to work on the name change.
I want you to know this is not a mid-life crisis; it's just that I'm overdue for new challenges. And come to think of it, what other animal has a holiday named after them and has to deal with the performance anxiety that goes with it?
In closing, what's so wrong with having dreams of Hollywood stardom? Remember, "Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart." So take care and best of luck to all of you. Hollywood, here I come.
If you need to know when to rent that ski chalet or plant, check out the Farmer's Almanac.
Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby
Barry Halpin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org