Thursday, January 04, 2007


I've been misled. Beguiled, even. Duped. Hornswoggled. Bamboozled and flimflammed.

Whatever you call it, I'm disappointed.

You see, one of my favorite New Year's procedures is something I like to call "The Buying of the Discounted Calendar."

I go to a bookstore and pickup a calendar or two for 50% off sometime between December 26 and January 1. This year I'd already purchased a wall calendar in advance for home (and had been gifted one for work), so all I needed was a page-a-day desk calendar to add a bit of humor to the daily grind. So I ventured into a nearby Borders to cash-in a gift card and take advantage of the post-holiday savings.

They had Peanuts. Far Side. The Onion. Know Your Monty Python. Common Grammar Mistakes. Poem-a-Day. French-Lesson-a-Day. Even one of those fun "Survival Guide" calendars that tells you want to do in case of a bizarro emergency (e.g. you've been knifed by a parrot or you're choking on bird feathers).

I grabbed one of each of these and pondered my "Which To Choose" conundrum when a beam of light, promptly followed by a choir of angels, directed my attention towards yet another page-a-day desk calendar.

"Eats, Shoots & Leaves."

It was based on a book I've long wanted to read but have never found the time, so naturally it piqued my interest. I mean, I do find certain grammar mistakes to be especially amusing, and I find the metamorphosis of the English language to be altogether fascinating. And for some reason I thought each "day" on the calendar would reveal a comedic error found in some hifalutin newspaper or — at the very least — an example of how a word, phrase or comma changed history. After all, that's what the back of the box led me to believe.

So I chose it from amongst all the rest, made my purchase, and tucked the calendar into my work desk, awaiting the arrival of the new year.

When I returned to work after the long weekend, my first act of business was to retrieve the calendar, remove its packaging, and tear away the first day.

And that, dear readers, is when disappointment struck, jinxing my 2007 with an unfortunate start.

For it appears that each page reveals not a grammar mistake, semantic nuance or even a bit of British v. American linguistic history, but simply a short passage from the book.

Mind you, the "book" may be great as a whole... but, it only took me from January 2 to January 4 to realize it makes an awfully boring desk calendar. Basically, each day I get 1-3 sentences from the book — taken entirely out of context, mind you.

Here's what the January 3 entry read, for example:

While significant variations exist between British and American usage, these are matters for quite rarefied concern. You say "parentheses" while we say "brackets"... but to people who call an apostrophe "one of them floating comma things" it doesn't matter very much.

I can certainly understand how this might appear clever as part of a larger passage. In which case, it might make an OK page-a-day calendar for someone who has read and worshipped the book and so knows the context.

But for someone like me... For someone who was misled to believe each day was an interesting snippet of misplaced commas and improper usage... For someone who hit every traffic light on her way to work — how is THAT supposed to teach me anything and/or bring a smile to my face on a Thursday morning?

It's going to be a long year.


Anonymous said...

You were taken for a ride. I say you sue. After all, it is the American Way!

Failing that, see if you can get a better desk calendar. Good luck. I would hate to have your whole year jinxed from this one thing.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

But the whole point of getting these calendars for 50% off is that I don't pay full price. If I buy another one — and that's even assuming there are any good ones left — I'll have paid half price twice, thereby paying "full price" for something more acceptable.

I don't want to buy another one on principle. But I also want another because this one sucks.

What's a girl to do?

Anonymous said...

I've got it. You should deal with your calendar for a couple of weeks (I know you don't want to, but just deal.) Then when the calendars go down to 75% off you can get a different one, thereby technically buying one calendar for 25% off. It could work you know?

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Excellent thought. I have considered that, too, the only problem being the pickins' are pretty slim by that point.

I even thought about trying to exchange the one I have. But I have torn off a few days...

Winter said...

Woo, I think I might have to go pick it up! Instead of working, I could be reading a book at work!

disgruntled world citizen said...

You're first mistake was going to Borders *disgruntled sniff*

Serves ya right!