Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Fear of Commitment Extends Mostly to Calendars

      Now is the time of year when I have to decide how I want everyone in the office to judge me by the calendar I buy. Clothes make the man but the calendar makes the office and the dozen pictures I choose to stare at next year will be a window into my soul. As always, December started off with people giving me calendars.
      Last week Mark gave me a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar knowing that I would spend the next six months telling myself I was only enjoying it in the ironic trucker hat kind of way. The truth is it's going to stay in the drawer because I'm a post-ironic apprehensive recluse who doesn't want to stare all year at a sex jury of twelve women who wouldn't talk to me if they were being swept out to sea in a riptide.
      Kathy gave me a chili calendar this year. It's safer from a hormonal standpoint but do I really need a year's worth of pepper facts? All I need to know is the size of the fireball that will shoot out of my pants if I eat the habanero flapjacks at Pedro's Pepper Hut. It's nice to know that the chili pepper is national fruit of Bhutan but it doesn't usually come up over breakfast. I did learn that birds are immune to capsaicin. So if you're attacked by an eagle pepper spray won't work. Unless you're attacked by a Philadelphia Eagle.
      Another problem with calendars is that they give people permission to start conversations I don't want to have. If I have a cat calendar on my wall Nancy from Accounting will invariably corner me in the break room to tell me all about Buttercup's kidney problems. Instead of doing something useful like putting out the microwave popcorn fire in the corner I'll have to listen to Nancy describe how she massages her cat's renal glads every three hours. If I buy a calendar of Irish castles Tim from Downstairs will stop by to tell me about the food poisoning he got on the train from Dublin. Normally I would enjoy a story about spraying the Irish countryside with shepherd's pie but Tim's timing is horrible and he usually gets to me right when I'm about to run down the hall to massage my renal glands.
     Not only do I have to worry about the endless play-by-play of vacation disasters and vet memories I also have to deal with over-friendly appointment scanners. Every goal, deadline and doctor appointment is up for discussion when Brad from Engineering walks in. If I write, “urologist, 9am” Brad has to peck away at the story he's already made up in his mind. “Had a little too much fun in Tijuana did we? Heh heh.” I've never been to Tijuana but now I have to tell him thanks to my coffee habit I'm passing kidney stones the size of lug nuts.
      Because of Brad and half the guys in the motor pool now I have to write my appointments in code. “Cyst removal” becomes “Sister leaving town.” “Ulcer checkup” becomes “Take Uncle Fester to lunch.” “Therapy session” turns into “Sad clown. Cirque de Merde.” Sometimes I'll pencil in fake appointments just to see if the email chatter picks up. “Mail order bride arrives” is good for a two hour spike in Outlook traffic. “Work Release ends - ankle device comes off!” has been known to tip over a few mochas.
      On the other hand, checking out other people's calendars can be worrisome as well. What do I do if I see, “Pole Dancing class” on grandma's classic barns calendar? How do I let that one go? I'm glad grandma's working on her core but shouldn't someone warn the Pilates class next door? Someone might look in.
      I have one week to decide what I want to stare at for the next year. Every calendar I've seen so far is horrible. Here's a brief list of calendars I won't be buying this year:

Sudoku - A whole year of unsolvable puzzles. Always good to start each day with a small failure.

Day in History - 365 moments in history that are “little known” for a reason. When I read that on April 4th, 1842 the Muffintop Party elected Ebeneezer Pinchweed as their presidential candidate I get the vague feeling I should have already known that. Now I have to keep that information in my head, effectively pushing out more important data like my PIN number or where I parked the car at the mall.

What's Your Poo Telling You? - A whole year of inspirational photos. Some guy decided to be the Ansel Adams of toilet bowls and now thousands of people around the world are consulting their calendars to see if they're getting enough fiber in their diet.

Zen – Nothing says be in the moment like a tight grid of numbers signifying past and future commitments. How am I supposed to focus on the impermanence of life when I'm staring at a root canal that's coming up on the 15th?

Perfect Porches – Yes, there is a calendar for porches. I'm holding out for the 2012 bannister calendar. Or possibly the 2013 Downspout-A-Day from the American Gutter Fund.

Snap-On Tools – Every year these calendars highlight the natural connection between tools and breasts. I try to avoid going to garages with these calendars on the wall. When the mechanic is refilling my brake fluid I'd rather he not be distracted by the hot blond straddling a torque wrench.

Shoes – The female equivalent to Snap-On Tools. Probably produced by the the Clog-A-Day Council, The T-Strap Stiletto Foundation, and The Society for the Advancement of Corn Pads. There are too many shoes out there now anyway. Remember the good old days when if a woman wanted a second pair of shoes she had to sleep with the cobbler?

Crochet – A calendar for people who think idle hands are the Devil's playthings. Created for people whose lives are measured in a series of small evenly spaced knots.

Butter My Butt and Call Me A Biscuit – All New Country Sayings! Fantastic. There's a team of hillbillies in a warehouse somewhere thinking up ribald colloquialisms no will ever use. “Well brine my cuke and call me a pickle.” Mostly used by the creepy guy in the mail room who mistakes sexual innuendo for southern charm.

      Last weekend I stood at the calendar kiosk surrounded by penguins, pandas, dachshunds, doughnuts, firemen, islands, ponies and Playmates. Not one of those birds, bears, beagles or broads whispered, “Take me home, busy man.” Now I'm back in the office and still stuck. Am I hipster cool with a year of Spam photos? Or Midwest wacky with 12 months of outhouses? I want to bring up this fear of commitment with my therapist but I have no idea when my next appointment is.