This was The Last Year of the Calendar for my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda.
I got to explain.
For years, she has been in charge of producing the St. Expedite Altar Society calendar, which the St. Expedite parochial school students sell to raise money for the school. Each month has a picture of some, mostly dull, school activity, like the kids filing into Mass, or lined up to form a human rosary – stuff like that.
She picks out the pictures and writes a caption for each one – a pious saying of some kind – and then brings them over to Charlie Cresson, the printer, and he puts it all together for her.
Then Charlie gets caught printing twenties as well as calendars, so Ms. Larda has to find another printer. Come to find out, they have all gone digital.
Now, I myself make a calendar every year for the Sloth Lounge, which my gentleman friend Lust owns. He gives them to his regulars. It’s mostly pictures of drinks, and the bartenders serving drinks, and scenes from the Sloth Slow and Steady Two-Day Pub Crawl. I caption them with slogans like “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”
Like everybody under 70, I use a computer to make this calendar.
Ms. Larda asks if I can make her calendar too. I say of course. It will get me brownie points in heaven. So she brings over her pictures, and 12 captions she copied from some holy book.
This is in early October. A lot of things happened immediately after that. I got my first colonoscopy, which I ain’t going to talk about, and there was my cousin Giselda’s wedding, and Halloween, and then we’re into November and Thanksgiving and all of a sudden it’s the deadline for the calendars.
Ms. Larda’s calendar always goes on sale at the St. Expedite Christmas pageant. Lust says before Christmas would be nice.
So I do a rush job. The way this calendar program works, you upload all the pictures, in order, and then the captions separately. I get my daughter Gladiola to upload the pictures, and I type in both sets of captions. We press “submit” and “rush” And then we wait.
Ms. Larda’s calendars don’t arrive at school until the actual morning of the pageant. A couple eighth graders haul them into the auditorium and arrange them on a display table.
They sell really fast, and most of them are gone before Ms. Larda gets there. She grabs one of the last ones and looks through it. And her hair stands on end. For March, it says “Erin go bra-less!” under a picture of Sister Mary Patricia presenting the Christian Life Award to old Mrs. O’Reilly.
“If you can’t be happy at least you can be drunk,” under a picture of the choir looking solemnly into the camera
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. When life is a bitch, beer is a must,” under a picture of the church draped in purple for Lent
She calls me, so hysterical that I think we got a bad connection. My apartment is behind the Sloth, so I decide to step over there and try calling her back. When I get there, I see some of the regulars frowning at their Sloth calendars, puzzled-like.
I open one to a picture of Bustina the bartender setting down two foaming mugs of beer. Underneath it says, “Hell was made for the inquisitive. – Saint Augustine”
And under a picture of the Slow and Steady Pub Crawl, it says “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. – Bernard Of Clairvaux”
Ohhh. We accidentally switched the calendar captions.
I decide not to call Ms. Larda back.
Turns out, both calendars are big hits. The Sloth regulars downed a lot of drinks arguing about the deeper meaning of each caption, which is so good for business, Lust puts in a second order.
Even though the St. Expedite calendars sell out, the Altar Society asks Ms. Larda to resign as calendar chair.
Hmph. On her way out the door, she tells them, “If you can’t be happy, at least you can be drunk!”
That’s the spirit(s).