Calendar Girl (June): Chapter 4
This chapter picks up directly after Mia’s impulsive decision to get a tattoo. At the shop, Mia is predictably nonjudgmental.
I wondered what the guy [next to me] planned to do about those earlobes when he was seventy.
lol jk this is Mia, of course she’s judging the bejesus out of everyone.
By the looks of him, twitching like he had somewhere to be right this very second, he was on the fast track to an early grave.
Yeah, you thought I was being hyperbolic when I said “the bejesus”, didn’t you?
Down the aisle, there was a Barbie-doll-looking chick getting what was probably her man’s name inked into a decent tramp stamp. I snickered under my breath, knowing that the moment a person got a tat with their man’s – or woman’s – name, it was the kiss of death.
Ok, remember that Mia is judging someone else for getting another person’s name tattooed on them, because guess what Mia is doing.
“Okay, so the dandelion goes here.” She ran a finger up the bare spot just above the heel and up the side of my inner ankle […] “Then the petals blowing in the wind will have each letter you chose as part of the stem. Incognito, right?” […]
One had the letter “W” to represent my time with Wes and the other an “A” for Alec.
Mia: “Getting your man’s name tattooed on you is the kiss of death, loser!” Also Mia: “Hi, I want the first initial of all my fuck buddies from the year I was forced into kinda sorta sex work tattooed on me, please.”
Now, of course, Mia includes her other clients on her symbolic tattoo about her sex worker year of self-discovery. She also has one petal that has a T and H for Tony and Hector, since they were a couple and both equally important to her, and one that’s… just an M for Mason. Sorry, Rachel. You don’t have a dick, you don’t get to be on Mia’s foot.
Additionally, Mia befriends
everyone everywhere she goes the woman doing her tattoo, because why not learn the backstory of the artist giving Mia a tattoo cataloging all the men she helped have feelings? Additionally additionally, just in case you were missing all the casual racism of the previous book, here’s some more fodder for the “has Audrey Carlan ever talked to someone who isn’t white” skepticism:
“So Mask is an unusual name, especially for a chick,” I said simply, attempting to strike up a conversation with the small Asian woman working on my tat. […]
“It’s short for Maskatun. Mask is easier for Americans.” Her voice didn’t have even a hint of an Asian dialect.
“You’re not American?”
“No, I am.”
Seriously, please explain to me how Mia befriends literally everyone everywhere she goes, because if this conversation happened anywhere but in this book, Mask is 100% only continuing this conversation because Mia is paying her right now.
“Well, I think your full name is beautiful, but Mask is badass, so I’m going with that.”
OR MAYBE GO WITH THAT BECAUSE IT’S HOW SHE FUCKING SAID SHE WANTS TO BE CALLED?
The importance of having a piece of each man with me, treading that path each day, was not lost on me.
PRO WRITING TIP: This isn’t Toni Morrison; you can probably assume the symbolism wasn’t lost on the reader either.
That night, Mia and Kathleen both have some time off, and Kathleen gets really into it, explaining “I rarely get a girls’ night” and they learn more about each other. We learn that Kathleen and Warren have been friends for thirty years, but Kathleen always held a torch for him, even back when he was married.
“And then when she died, well, he needed me. It wasn’t until years later that we started a covert relationship.” […]
“Then why do I get the feeling that things aren’t what they’re cracked up to be?”
She shrugged and sighed. “I guess I just figured by now, we’d be out in the open. That he wouldn’t be embarrassed to be with me.”
Boy, it’s kinda awkward that the book is also defending Warren’s complicity in the woman-objectifying functions of the political favor boys’ club, huh?
I shook my head. “I do not get the impression that he is embarrassed to be with you. But I will say, I’ve been to these events, and you’d be the odd duck out for sure.”
These are some fun mental gymnastics. Somehow Kathleen is totally unaware of what these fundraisers, a key function of the life’s work of the man she’s loved for decades, are like…
I pulled up [an image of the last event]. “This is what you’re up against.” […]
“These women are young enough to be their daughters.” A slightly shaky hand lifted in front of her mouth.
Nor she she seem to have any idea what his work even entails…
“Yep. That’s what I’m here. […] No, nuh-uh, not because of what you think. His reasons are actually really altruistic.”
Kathleen: “I’ve loved this man for thirty years!” Mia: “Do you know anything about what he does?” Kathleen:
At least, at first. Mia explains about the medicine and vaccines to third-world countries thing, and then Kathleen realizes, oh, that project, and reveals that she’d “honestly thought he’d given up on it”. I guess there isn’t a whole lot of communication in the secret relationship she has with the man she’s been secretly in love with for thirty years. Go figure.
Then she huffed. “Yet another thing he’s doing in her memory.”
…ok, neat, let’s see how this book manages to turn bringing medical assistance to impoverished parts of the world into a bad thing.
“Who’s Ketty Shipley?” I asked, completely lost.
“Warren’s dead wife.”
“Oh, that Ketty Shipley.”
As opposed to what fucking other Ketty Shipley could this possibly be about? Isn’t Mia’s entire job pretending to have close relationships with people? Shouldn’t she be better at intuiting things like this by now?
Kathleen explains that she was actually close friends with Ketty. What’s tough for her is that “she’s been dead for twenty-five years, and Warren is still in love with her.” Calendar Girl is determined to make this sound like a weird thing.
With a quick flick of her wrist, she unlocked and opened both the doors [to a secret room].
“What is this place?” I asked Kathleen […]
“Exactly what it looks like.”
With a sarcasm-laced tone, I responded. “Jesus Christ! It looks like a shrine to a dead woman.”
“Ketty Shipley lives on, even though she’s been dead for twenty-five years.”
Somehow the strangest part of all of this is that somehow sarcasm was Mia’s tone. Wouldn’t she just be surprised? What does she have to be sarcastic about?