Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Strange and Fearful Art of Buying a Calendar
It’s that time of year again. The holidays have gone, having momentarily embraced us in their warm and loving arms only to abandon us to the cold and lonely clutches of January. These wretched and vile weeks between New Years and spring are known for many things, none of which are good. Rampant seasonal-affective disorder. Endless global blizzards. Near-constant polar bear attacks – both bear on human and human on bear. But most sinister of all, this time of year is also calendar-buying season.
                Other than finally deciding to get that face tattoo, there aren’t many decisions you can make in January which will impact the next twelve months of your life quite like purchasing a calendar. Choose wisely and you’ll have a constant companion for the next twelve months, one that can buoy you through the rough patches and enhance the positive ones. Choose poorly and you’ll spend an entire year turning into dust like that Nazi at the end of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” over and over. To clarify, that means you’ll turn to dust, reform, then turn to dust again, and then repeat. All year long.
                Put a little blue check mark icon next to that one because it’s verified.
                How about an example? Last year, I went with a calendar which featured players from the Philadelphia Flyers, my favorite hockey team. Things started off great. I got to celebrate each month with a picture of a different star player. Then it happened. I got to Max Talbot, a player who was no longer with the team. Remember, these things get printed up pretty far in advance. It was OK as the player had left on good terms via a trade which benefited both teams. I still liked him and was content to celebrate March with him. I moved on.
                Then the summer happened. The Flyers shockingly traded away Scott Hartnell, one of their top players, a fan favorite in a lopsided deal which did little to benefit them at the moment. To make matters worse, that trade happened in June. Guess who was the Flyer of the month for August? Yup, Hartnell. Old wounds were torn open. Tears were shed. Curses were levied at the cruel calendar gods. Eventually, as the month ended, I healed. Once again, a little worse for wear, I moved on.
                And then we got to December and the world ended. You see, December’s picture was Ilya Bryzgalov. In case you don’t follow the Flyers or the NHL, Ilya Bryzgalov was a very expensive goaltender who came to the Flyers with lots of hype, who performed below the levels expected, was deemed a weirdo due to the fact that he said what was on his mind, and he was eventually paid around $23 million by the Flyers to go away and never come back. That parting of ways took place … hmm … let’s see … oh right … a year and a half before his image graced my calendar! Who prints these things that far in advance? Or was this just some trick by an employee at the calendar factory who was about to be laid off?

 If it was possible to add any more salt to an already very salty wound, the soy sauce on that disaster was, in the left-hand corner of the Bryzgalov photo, you could just make out the head of a defenseman who’d come and gone from the team so fast that his name had likely been attached to his sweater using Velcro. So the biggest mistake in franchise history and one “Who the fork is that?” were my Flyers of the month for December. Great. Wonderful.
This year I decided to play it safe with my calendar selection: adorable puppies. Adorable puppies never go out of style. They never disappoint. They’re never paid huge sums of money to leave. They’re always just adorable.
If generic nameless animals aren’t your thing and you want to go with something more specific, more topical, more near and dear to your heart, I warn you, tread lightly. You never know when something is either going to change for the worst or you just grow weary of it.    
Say you’re thinking about buying a calendar which features the 2014 Drakie Award winner for Best Celebrity, Grumpy Cat. Ask yourself, are you still going to feel the same way about Grumpy Cat in December of 2015 as you do in January of 2015? The answer to that is “Of course you will.” Grumpy Cat is delightful. You should absolutely buy that calendar.
But what about something that is currently just as omnipresent, but which may not have the legs of a Grumpy Cat? What about, say, “The Interview?” Putting that up on your wall right now might make you feel like a patriot, a Constitution-thumping American on par with George Washington and Oprah. But are you still going to feel so strongly about that political statement after 11 months and a handful of MTV Movie Awards? Probably not.
I’m not saying animals are the only way to go. That hunky Chris Pratt calendar will probably serve you well, provided your co-workers or roommates are cool with shirtless, bearded funny guys, which they totally will be. So yeah, it’ll be fine … unless “Jurassic World” turns out to have major Stalinist undertones. Then maybe that Pratt calendar won’t look so good. Probably won’t happen, but I’m just saying you can’t be too careful. A lot can go down in twelve months.
            Look, when you’re out there, buying your calendars, I’m just asking you to be careful. These dangerous, life-altering decisions can’t be taken lightly. Or you know what? Use your phone. It’s probably the only way to totally protect yourself.

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