Calendar Girl (January) Chapter 1:
Our story begins with our jaded protagonist explaining she doesn’t believe in true love because of 4 terrible past experiences.
Let’s see, there was:
Taylor. My high-school sweetheart. We were together all through high school. He was an all-star baseball player. Best the school had ever seen. Big, more muscles than brains, and a winky the size of a circus peanut. Probably because of all the steroids he was taking behind my back.
“Winky the size of a circus peanut” was the moment I knew we had chosen the right book to read next. She sure must be a cool, tough-talking lady if she finds creative ways to refer to penises.
He dumped me graduation night. Ran off with my virginity and the head cheerleader. I heard he was a college dropout working as a mechanic in some no-name town with two kids and a wife that no longer cheers for him.
Yep, definitely evidence that love doesn’t exist if you have one of those rare, crappy high school romantic experiences.
Then there was the teacher’s assistant from my first psychology class in the Las Vegas Community College. Maxwell was his name. I thought that young boy walked on water. Turns out, he walked all over my heart by screwing a girl from every class he TA’d for. In his case, the TA stood for Tits and Ass, and he made sure he had plenty of it.
Why does it feel like with a lot of the books we read here, the only way to demonstrate a woman is a bad-ass, tough-talkin’ lady is for her to be crude? And also crude in a way that’s not particularly clever. To me, it sounded like Mia was referring to the TA’s tits and ass, but it’s pointing out that he’s a womanizer.
I hope at some point, Mia is like, “My initials, MS, stand for mushrooms and sauerkraut, and I make sure I have plenty!” Or “USA stands for ukuleles, salamanders, and artichokes. America has all of these things!” Please do this for all the initials and acronyms in the world, Mia.
That’s okay. He ended up getting two of the girls pregnant at the same time, then was kicked out of the college for misconduct. At nineteen, he already had two different baby mamas hounding him for child support. There was something ultimately poetic about that. Thank God I always required he wrap it before he stuck it in me.
It’s a good thing all these guys seem to get what’s coming to them. Can you imagine what it would look like if a high school baseball star actually enjoyed his life? Or if this TA had hooked up with multiple women but not gotten any of them pregnant? What a joke that would be! I wonder if the next story will be of a post-college boyfriend who was a talented musician who cheated on Mia with some groupies and then died of an overdose as punishment for his betrayals.
Well kind of. There’s Benny who was a card-counter in Vegas. Apparently all men who gamble in Vegas are likely to be named Benny as we learned from Beautiful Disaster.
Benny got caught counting cards and disappeared. For the first year of his disappearance, I was frantic. Then I found out he’d been beaten to within an inch of his life.
Most likely by other men named Benny led by a mobster leader named Benny.
He spent time in the hospital and skipped out of town, ditching me completely without even a word.
But maybe he lived happily ever! There’s still a chance for good old Benny.
Finally there is Blaine, who is the driving force behind the plot:
Blaine was his name, but it should have been Lucifer. He was a smooth-talking business man. I use the term businessman loosely. In actuality, he was a loan shark. The same loan shark that loaned my dad more money than he could possibly ever pay back. First he turned on me, then he turned on him. Back then I thought our love was the stuff of fairytales. Blaine promised me the world and delivered me hell on earth.
I’ll have to take Mia’s word on this given it is all tell tell tell without any show. My heavens, I can’t imagine if people had to wait multiple chapters before getting to the hot escorting action.
“That’s why I think you should just take this job from your auntie and call it a day.” My best friend, Ginelle, smacked her gum loudly into the receiver. I pulled the phone away from my ear. “It’s really the only way, Mia. How else are you going to get your dad out of this bind with Blaine and his goons?”
Oh, hi, Ginelle. I didn’t realize we were on the phone with you this whole time. It was a very smooth transition. Were you listening in on Mia’s brain, or was she recapping her love life to you in a completely natural way?
I sucked down the crisp water as the California sun split the drops into shards of speckled light across the rippled bottle. “I don’t know what to do, Gin. I don’t have that kind of money lying around. I don’t have any money lying around.” I sighed, and it sounded loud and overly dramatic even to my own ears.
“Look, you’ve always been in love with love—“
I was definitely not coming to that conclusion from the stories Mia was telling about her past experiences with dating/relationships. I know with hindsight she can see these guys were awful, but she doesn’t really talk about the point that she actually was in love with them (or the idea of being in love with them.)
“Not anymore!” I reminded my lifelong best friend.
Through the phone, I could hear the noise of Vegas. People thought the desert was a quiet place. Not on the Strip. Slot machines tinkled and bells rang in a monotonous drone no matter where you were. You really couldn’t escape it. “I know, I know.” She shuffled the phone making it crackle in my ear. “But you like sex, right?”
“I’m not like Barbie, Gin. Math isn’t hard. Please don’t ask me stupid questions. I’m dying here.” Or rather, if I didn’t find a way to come up with one million dollars, my father would be the one dying.
I am so baffled by this exchange and keep turning it over in my head. It’s just…it’s nonsense. Math has nothing to do with the question Gin has just asked her. Barbie has held down all sorts of jobs and is probably a very skilled mathematician. Mia’s response to Gin might as well have been, “I’m not a farmer, Gin. Playing Uno isn’t hard.” And it would have made the same amount of sense.
Okay, so Mia needs a million dollars. I guess figuring out how to come up with a million dollars is a lot easier when your back’s against the wall. If you told me I had to come up with one million dollars or else my father would die, I would want to, but I already want to figure this out. It’s like on Grey’s Anatomy when they’re like, “We can’t fix your legs.” But the patient is a ballerina who really wants to use her legs again unlike everyone else, so the doctors are like, “Well, okay, I guess we’ll find a way because you really wanted it.”
Luckily, Mia’s aunt runs Exquisite Escorts, so Mia could become a highly paid call girl, which Gin encourages her to do.
“Yeah, I hear ya. Let me know how the meeting with Exquisite Escorts goes. Call me tonight if you can. Shit, I’m going to be late for rehearsal, and I still have to get dressed.” Her voice turned labored, and I could picture her running through the casino to beat-feet it to work, cell phone plastered to her ear, not giving a shit who watched her or thought she was a lunatic. That’s what made her so special. She told it like it was…always. Just like me.
And The Donald! That man could be president soon, so imagine what Mia and Gin are capable of.
Mia gets on her cool motorbike and goes to meet with her aunt.
“Aunt Millie, it’s so good to see you,” I started to say when two fingers with long nails capped in blood red nail polish shushed me.
She tsked her tongue, “Ah ah, here you will call me Ms. Milan.” I rolled my eyes for dramatic effect. She narrowed hers in return. “Doll-face, first off, don’t roll your eyes. It’s rude and unladylike.” Her lips pinched into a tight line. “Second of all…” She walked around my form assessing me as if I was a piece of art, a statue. Something cold and impenetrable. Maybe I was. In her hand, she held a black lace fan that she opened and closed then flicked against her open palm during her perusal. “…never call me Millie. That woman is long gone, died when the first man I ever trusted fried up my heart and fed it to his dogs.” Such a vile image, but Aunt Millie was nothing if not honest.
Damn, all these powerful ladies telling it like it is and moving on from broken hearts. It’s pretty moving when you think about it.
We get some exposition about how Millie has always had a soft spot for Mia and her younger sister, but she doesn’t like their father. Also, their father raised them alone after Millie’s sister/their mother left them. I wonder if Mia’s mom will show up in month six to create ~drama~. Only time/calendars will tell.
Mia is reluctant to become a call girl, but then immediately agrees. What other option does she have! Her father is in a coma right now from being badly beaten, and if she doesn’t get the money he owes, he’ll be dead. Then the guys will come after Mia and her sister. We don’t find out why the police are not called to intervene, but who cares when there is going to be hot call girl action happening soon!
The hairs on my arms started to rise, and I jutted my shoulders back in defense. I shook my head. “I don’t know. I’m sure Blaine wants his money, and since we had a thing a while ago, I could probably plead. That sick, sadistic fucker always liked me down on my knees begging.”
But she used to be so in love with being in love and Blaine. Am I alone in feeling like her character is not adding up? I can’t imagine her falling for this guy if he was “always” this way. She did say he was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but something isn’t sitting right with me.
“Keep your sexual escapades to yourself, doll-face,” she grinned wickedly. “Looks like we’ll just have to put you to work right away. Top dollar accounts only. We need to move up everything. I’m going to need you here first thing tomorrow morning for the photo shoot. It will be an all-day event. We’ll shoot stills, some video, etc. I’ll have my guys get them up on the secure site by the following day.”
This all still sounds alarmingly easy.
Millie assures Mia that she doesn’t have to sleep with the guys, and if she does it has to be off the books. However, she encourages her to do it because the guys pay 20% extra, and it all goes to Mia.
Mia will be booked out by the month so she can earn six figures, and she decides to try to set up a payment plan with Blaine and the goons (a great band name for anyone who needs one).
The next day, everything moves very quickly. Mia has her photoshoot and is looking hella fine, and she gets assigned to her first client. But damn it, she also discovers she’s going to have to put her non-existent acting career on hold and quit her job as a waitress! Troubling.
With a deep breath I stood and put out my hand to my aunt. Her smile was wicked, yet still sexy. She was very good at her job. “Alright, Ms. Milan,” I emphasized her fake name so she’d understand my commitment. “Looks like I’m your new Calendar Girl.”