not giving a sh*t
The package leaning against the front door seemed harmless enough. Slim, light, easy to lift with the clutch of two fingers. As soon as I scissor-slit the tape covering the crack between the cardboard flaps, I see the gift bag and guess at the sender, the only person I know who would spring for a sequined gift bag to elevate the rectangular object that held the familiar qualities of a gift given to many at this time of year. A calendar.
I march to the recycle bin, embarrassed. This crap isn’t making the world a better place one month at a time. It isn’t raising the general discourse or paving a path for the future. It’s not the kind of thing I want hanging on my wall. I have to call it what it is. Full of shit. Very real shit.
My ex and I had exchanged calendars over the years like marking time was the hallmark of our relationship. We had remained friends since our split when the kids were a mere five and two. Thirty years later they are grown and have endured relationship troubles of their own. Through good times and not so good times, their dad and I tried to look on the bright side of whatever states of affairs might be. And when we hadn’t laughed, we had at least found ways to muddle through.
Never was that truer than when COVID made hand-washing, mask-wearing and quarantining exercises in either compassion or oppression, depending on how you looked at it. But when I received the calendar delivery, the COVID years were still around a sharp curve, and we were all barreling along without much thought to where or when we blew our noses.
What had me surprised and, frankly, offended, was the type of calendar that had been sent. The exact title read Pooping Pooch Calendar 2020. The cover showed a black and white hunting dog hunched over and straining in a field of — bluebonnets? Shitting on the Texas State Flower? Couldn’t be. I didn’t become thoroughly disgusted until I turned the slim volume over to see the thumbprint photos for each of the twelve months, featuring a blond lab, a marbled mastiff, a grey poodle, and more, including, of course, a shih tze, all in the pooping position.
How many of these knee-jerk ideas make it out of the warehouse, into the truck, then onto the plane, then onto another truck, and then to another warehouse, and then onto a van to be personally delivered by a stressed-out, overworked, underwhelmed individual who trots up the walk, possibly tripping and breaking an ankle, with hopes of lightly placing an ambiguously-packaged white elephant on a porch so that it can be discovered in the hit-and-miss of calendar gift-giving season?
I did not laugh. I have not laughed about such things for many years. When I was eleven, I might have laughed because other eleven-year-olds expected me to laugh and because I was conscious of social cues and expectations. When I was sixteen, I might have laughed because I had smoked some weed and was taken off guard and because other sixteen-year-olds were laughing and hearing them laugh was funny to me. But I don’t believe that at any other age or in any other circumstances I would laugh as a matter of course at the revelations of a Pooping Pooch Calendar.
And then COVID struck, and three years later, I realize that my ex had been a droll prophet all along.