Calendar Girl (September): Chapter 8
Mia brings us up to speed about Gin’s recovery from her kidnapping. Gin takes a week off work, which her boss is understanding about since Blaine’s mob is an open secret in Vegas.
She was still a little off, but definitely coming back to the feisty girl I knew and loved
Although for some reason, Gin’s recovery sounds like it mostly consists of listening to Mia talk about her feelings for Wes.
We’d spent the morning talking about Wes and where I thought we were headed in our relationship
Every single person in this book needs to get better friends.
Mia, Gin, and Max all meet up and get a phone call from Warren Shipley, who’s using his government contacts to update Mia on the effort to rescue Wes.
“They got him, but the entire mission was ugly. A lot of lives were lost.”
I closed my eyes, sending up a silent prayer for all those that didn’t make it. “Tell me what happened, and where is Wes?”
“He’s safe, being treated in a secret location.”
Calendar Girl February: Being an escort is so exciting! My first two clients are so sexy and have large penises!
Calendar Girl September: DEATH DOES NOT LURK AROUND EVERY CORNER. HE MERELY WAITS, AND HE IS WAITING FOR US ALL.
A weight the size of a two-ton anvil lifted off my chest,
replacing the worst of my fear with a much smaller weight.
Oh, ok, now I understand the change in Mia’s stress. Thank god the metaphorical weight had a base measurement. I’d have been lost otherwise.
Warren informs Mia that Wes still needs to be given medical attention and to be debriefed about any information they could share about the terrorist cell.
“This group was particularly heinous, honey. The things they were doing to women and children not of their faith, you couldn’t imagine. […] when the team struck, they started killing hostages. Apparently, they decided that if they were going to die, they’d take the vile Americans and their religious propaganda with them.”
I’m really hoping this whole “Christianity #1!!!” subplot wraps up soon and we don’t get any more ham-handed hot takes on American imperialism in the middle east, because I’m gonna be super pissed off if I have to brush up on Noam Chomsky for fucking Calendar Girl.
We also get a vague update that something so bad happened to Gina that Calendar Girl won’t even go into detail. So, naturally, Mia kicks it off with how much she hates Gina for fucking her man.
Warren’s voice got low. “Honey, the things they did to that woman, that actress, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”
Fuck. I hated the woman—not because I had any right to hate her, but because she’d had a casual sexual relationship with Wes at one time.
That’s the actual sequence right there. I didn’t cut anything out. It seriously goes from “what happened to Gina was awful!” to “do you guys remember why I hate Gina, that skank?” It doesn’t even stop there. There is no upper bound on Mia’s pettiness.
Even still, I didn’t wish her any real harm. Maybe for an ugly picture of her eating a hot dog to appear on the local smut mag but not to be mistreated by the hands of sick and twisted men
Warren informs the group that Wes will be home within two weeks, and basically the rest of the scene is about Mia freaking out about how unacceptable that timing is. Which, I mean, yes, the man she loved almost died and she’s totally entitled to feeling like she deserves to see him. But, as is apparently par for the course for this chapter, her explanation is maybe 1/3 “I can’t wait to see the person I love!” and maybe 2/3 “AMERICA FUCK YEAH”:
“He goes from being held hostage by radical extremists to being detained by the government? The United Fucking States! The land of the free!” I roared so loud that Max put his hands on my shoulders
I guess this month’s client was jingoism.
“Shipley, this is Max here. What is it going to take to get my sister a phone call to her man?”
Warred [sic] grumbled and huffed loudly. “A lot of fucking strings being pulled.”
“Then I’d say you need to become a puppeteer. From what my sister tells me, you owe her a favor.”
“Mia, you told him?” Warren’s voice turned to ice.
“No!” I shot back, pissed that he’d even think I’d risk telling more people, though my brother wasn’t just anyone.
Nine books in, Calendar Girl has become a Russian nesting doll of inscrutable characters. Warren’s mad at Mia for threatening to press charges? Check.
“You need money or resources, you call me,” Max stated in his I-run-an-empire business drawl. “Whatever it costs, make it happen. You hear?”
“Loud and clear,” Warren answered.
One bajillionaire offering resources to another bajillionaire on behalf of someone who refuses their resources as a matter of principle sometimes but not every time? Check.
The rest of the chapter is Mia having a conversation with her sister’s fiance, Matt, about how he keeps pressuring her into marrying him sooner rather than later. His reasons are 70000% what you’d expect:
Matt shook his head. “You’ll think it’s dumb.”
I laughed. “Probably, but tell me anyway.”
He smiled and then just as quickly as the grin spread across his face, it disappeared. Matt blew out a long, slow breath. “There’s this group of guys. Jocks. Big dudes, good looking. They’re always chatting Maddy up after class, casually trying to get her to study with them, help them with their homework. […] It’s just they won’t let up. They’re successful, all from rich families. They could give her anything she wants, and they play sports. Maddy loves sports. […] I’ll be working for companies that deal in farming, botany, and the like. They’re going to go pro, run family businesses, and be able to give her a life I can’t. […] And Maddy, God, she’s so beautiful. Kind. Loving. Crazy smart. She could have anyone with the snap of her fingers.”
Aw, I got it now. He was insecure.
Yeah, he’s a nineteen-year-old straight boy. No shit, Sherlock.
Mia gives him one of her characteristically inappropriate pep and/or sex talks.
“Maddy loves you. Maddy wants to marry you. She gave you something very special, and you’re the only man she’s ever wanted to have it. Get what I mean?”
He grinned, and his cheeks pinked up. Too fucking cute. Talk about sex and he blushes. Yeah, he was damn near perfect for my girl.
And then Matt tells Mia that he already “admitted most of [this] to [Maddy].” SO WHY ARE WE EVEN HAVING THIS CONVERSATION WITH MIA IF THEY’RE ALREADY TALKING WITH EACH OTHER ABOUT THEIR INSECURITIES LIKE HEALTHY ADULTS?
“You’re right. We talked about it. I admitted most of it to her. She thought I was crazy, said I was the hottest guy she’d ever known, and then she jumped on me and proved to me how much she loved me.”
And then he lost that one point. “Gross. Did you just seriously tell me, your fiancée’s sister, how you had awesome make up sex? Blech. Sick!”
He laughed. “Too soon?”
Matt: “I feel insecure but it’s dumb.”
Mia: “It’s not dumb. The patriarchy imposes toxic expectations on men too, telling you that you’re not a real man if you legitimize your feelings. As long as we all live in a culture that systemically tells women their only value is as sexual objects and tells men that they’re expected to constantly take advantage of that, we all suffer.”
Matt: “That’s a good point. And it helps that my partner and I can talk openly and respectfully about our insecurities.”
Mia: “Also that she fucked you.”
Matt: “Yeah, fucking her made me feel like I have value too.”
FURTHER READING about Calendar Girl’s gross and lazy use of the 21st century Western World’s de facto stock universal evil villain, since this is kind of a lot to unpack mid-post for a few ignorant and cheap throwaway lines. Especially since, you know, people come here for a good laugh. Hopefully.
Jon Schwarz’s “Why Do So Many Americans Fear Muslims? Decades of Denial About America’s Role In The World” at The Intercept is pretty much what it says on the tin, and explains the historical context and the oversimplified present-day American perspective. Or, in its own words, “that the U.S. has acted with extraordinary brutality in the Middle East, [and] that this had been the main motivation for most Islamist terrorism against us”, and “that Islamist terrorism is almost wholly blowback from [US] foreign policy”.
On the other side of the coin, talking about how artistic culture contributes to this problem, Feminist Frequency’s “Manufacturing a Muslim Menace” discusses how “stereotypical representations of Muslims and Arabs as terrorists and savages in so much popular media contribute directly to Islamophobia in our culture”.