Calendar Girl (March): Chapter 6
Mia decides she can fill Hector in on the drama with Wes.
“And you just left? That was cold, girl.” Hector snuffed indignantly, already “Team Wes” before I ever even got a chance to explain the situation with my dad and the reason behind me being an escort in the first place.
Yes, do explain this situation about how Mia just couldn’t stay with a man she wanted to date, who wanted to date her, and who would happily and easily pay off a debt that still doesn’t totally make sense why it’s her obligation to pay.
“No, Wes and I, we’re not like that.”
“Oh yeah? What are you like?”
So, uh, are is Mia actually going to explain the situation? Because… this is… not that thing she just said she was going to say.
“Yes, he asked me to stay. Yes, I declined, even though I wanted to stay more than anything… but I just couldn’t!”
“Why?” he asked.
Before I could respond, a clacking of heels on tile floor interrupted us both.
Oh no, now we’ll never know how this book is supposed to make sense.
Now, to be fair, a story isn’t “bad” just because its characters aren’t behaving rationally. Actually, if you think about it, most stories are kind of like that. Lots of plots are driven because characters we’re supposed to at least kinda like are doing things that make little rational sense, from classics like Crime and Punishment or Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon to more fun stories like Mean Girls or Harry Potter and, Hey, Everyone Becomes an Angsty Adolescence Monster At Some Point. But what’s important is that we can see how it seems to make sense to that character, whether it’s Raskolnikov’s poverty pushing him to see some murder as a strange perversion of moral relativism or Cady straight up narrating why she felt destroying Regina George’s social life was necessary. And Calendar Girl is getting a little better at this (having finally given us more time with her family she ostensibly cares so much about), but it probably won’t be very effective as long as the dad she’s doing all of this for is in a coma and not participating in the story he caused whatsoever. You can’t just assume “because family” will make enough sense for the reader; we still have to see why that family is so important to Mia.
WHEW. That was a lot of words not about summarizing Calendar Girl! Isn’t it fun summarizing the plot of a twelve-novella series all based on a premise so nonsensical that it can’t be ignored?
Anyway, let’s get back to the world of Calendar Girl. Tony’s sister Angelina arrives, interrupting Mia and Hector’s talk about Wes, because they all have plans to go shopping. What’s Mia think about how Hector just doesn’t get why she couldn’t stay with Wes?
Men, I swear… Sometimes they only hear what they want to hear. Doesn’t matter if they’re gay.
Um. Okay? But sure, I’m willing to chalk this up to a Fuck The Patriarchy thing instead of a weird identity reduction since it’s just this one…
“You don’t sound excited,” Angelina mumbled.
Hector chuckled and led Angelina by the elbow. “She doesn’t like to shop.”
Angelina’s mouth dropped open, and her eyes bugged out. “Are you a girl?”
Good lord, this book is hard to read.
“Her pajamas are more stylish than her entire wardrobe.” [Hector joked.]
“That’s because they were bought by Wes’s stylist.” I bit my lip.
“Wes? Who’s Wes?” Angelina’s eyes narrowed on me. She stopped and waited for my answer.
“Oh, just a friend. Gay BFF back home.” […] Hector sent a disapproving glance my way, and I cringed and mouthed a “sorry” behind Angelina’s back.
Isn’t Mia supposed to be an aspiring actress? I’m not saying she has to be “on” all the time (which would actually be way more unnatural), but presumably she wouldn’t fuck up every single of one of these scenarios we’ve ever seen her in, right?
While shopping, Angelina tries starting a conversation about when Mia and Tony are gonna set a date for the wedding. Mia tries to act nonchalantly, but when Angelina slips that Tony’s mom is going to talk them into having a wedding that month while they’re there, Hector and Mia break character. Like… immediately.
“Doesn’t matter. What Mama wants, Mama gets. Right, Hector?” […]
Hector nodded, put his elbows on his knees, and hung his head while running his hands through his hair. I’d not seen a man this defeated since I told Wes I couldn’t stay. I jumped off the pedestal and knelt down in front of Hector. When he lifted his head, there were unshed tears in his eyes. I clasped his cheeks and shook my head, trying to convey silently that it wouldn’t happen. […]
“It will never be me,” he whispered.
“But it is you,” I swore with as much finality as I could muster. I brought our foreheads close and repeated it. “It is you, you he loves.”
Unfortunately, both of us forgot who was in attendance during our little bonding session.
WE DIDN’T. THE READER HAS DEFINITELY NOT FORGOTTEN THAT THIS LOOKS SUPER, SUPER WEIRD.
But surprise! Angelina also figured out that this story made no sense!
“I knew it!” Angelina said. […] “You think I don’t know that you and my brother have been in love since college? What do you take me for? […] I know Tony. And I know you. Neither of you have had a partner all these years. Once in a great while, Tony would bring a ‘date’ to dinner, but it was always obvious he wasn’t interested in her. […] Tony needs to tell Mama.”
Hector shook his head so fast I thought it might disconnect from the spine. “Not an option. He does not want to disappoint Mona or the family. Plus, there’s business issues involved and the boxing league he still enjoys.”
“Screw the league.”
Ok, cool, I’m glad we can stop pretending to care about the boxing league that has yet to ever actually appear in this story.
“You think a family company like Fasano’s can handle the tarnish to its image having a gay man running the helm?”
Angelina shrugged. “Work is work. I don’t really care what the business thinks.”
Hector sighed. “But Tony does. It’s everything to him.”
I placed my hand on Hector’s knee. “No, I think you’ve got that wrong. You’re everything to him.”
Hector stood abruptly. “No offense, Mia, but if that were true, you wouldn’t be here.”
Angelina vents about how their mom’s obsession with her oldest son having a son is, understandably, kind of ruining everyone else’s life.
“Hey, it’s okay. I’ll talk with Hector and Tony. We’ll figure something out. It will all be okay. I can stage a big breakup or something. No need to get so upset.”
“It’s not that. It’s just, Rocko and I have been trying for some time to have a baby, and nothing’s happening. Mama doesn’t even ask about it. It’s all about Anthony having a son and carrying on the name. […] There’s five of us […] Someone is always second, third, fourth, or fifth. It’s just Tony’s always number one.”
Hm. This is pretty interesting stuff. I wonder if there’s some way that Calendar Girl can make it not engaging to read about.
I heard what she was saying and understood it.
Oh, right, because everything is filtered through Mia, who is ironically maybe the least-developed character in this entire series since she keeps flitting between other people’s stories and we’re spending very little time getting to understand her.
“Exactly!” [Angelina said.] “Tony needs to just get out of the habit of trying to please everyone. Trying to be everything to everyone. You know?”
Instead of responding, I nodded. It was true. I did know.
Does she though?
Mia tries to narrate that she totally gets what Tony’s fear of coming out as an openly gay man is like because “Ever since my mom left, I tried to keep the family together”. Yes. That sounds like exactly the same thing.
Even now. I was an escort to bail my dad out of debt. Really, I had no business trying to tell someone else how to live their life since I’d sucked so horribly at living mine.
…well, I mean, that part I can agree with.
The chapter ends on quite a down note, as Hector reminds everyone that they ultimately have to support Tony’s decision. They begrudgingly agree.
Something had to be done. I just didn’t know what.
Dear Calendar Girl. I know you’re already written, so it’s a little weird to ask this. But please do not feel the need to end this book in the “and that’s how Mia solved everyone’s problems, and also learned a little something about herself” vein that the first two books would suggest it’s going to. It’s… it’s not likely to go very well in this particular scenario…
Hello, readers! You guys seem pretty interested in bad books and thinking about why they’re bad, right? Well, in case any of you are curious about not-bad books and thinking about not-great things, a friend of mine who’s a philosophy grad student put together A Syllabus for a Post-Truth World, as she explains it:
They are, I hope, a diverse collection of materials that may help us shed light on the historical and present contingencies that have led us to this moment in time, and make sense of where we might go from here.
There are a ton of books on here covering a lot of different topics you might be interested in, including democracy, humanitarianism and rescue politics, colonisalism/postcolonialism/neocolonialism, etc. Figured I might share for anyone looking to really confuse the recommendations that Amazon and Goodreads’ algorithms give you. (Mine’s a mess.) And for anyone eager to learn. We’re all fans of books here. I figure that we’re all fans of learning.