Houston, We Have a Problem

Living with someone – in any sort of configuration – is all about the art of negotiation. As in, I won’t complain about having to occupy 1/8th of the couch while you lay sprawled across it if you pretend not to notice the bag of church bazaar purchases I’ve hidden in the garage.

But some things, I’ve come to learn, are beyond negotiation. For example, a Whitney Houston 2013 calendar.

I spotted it after the new year had begun. I don’t know why I always wait until January before frantically searching for a calendar. I mean, sure, they’re on sale by then, but the pickings are slim. Who wants to spend a year looking at cats in flowerpots? Or the Kardashians? So when I spotted the Whitney calendar, I thought, “Now here, here’s a petunia in an onion patch.” And Serge was a fan! Or had been a fan. Can you presently be a fan of someone who is deceased? Were you a fan? It’s confusing at the best of times.

“I don’t want that,” Serge said when I brought it over to him. “It’s tacky.”

“But in October, she’s wearing a bow,” I pointed out.

I thought he was in a bad mood (were they out of Donna Summer calendars?) so while his back was turned, I went to the cash register and bought it, figuring he’d come around eventually.

He didn’t. And I’ve been paying for it ever since.

Every month for the past year, I’ve flipped to a new Whitney picture. Whitney fake-playing a guitar. Whitney in I’m Your Baby Tonight torn jeans. Whitney sitting on a bathroom counter, laughing. (Admittedly, an odd location choice.) And every month, I’ve had to hear what a horrible calendar this is. What a terrible, dreadful mistake I’ve made.

“But the calendar is put out by her estate,” I said. “The money goes to Bobbi Kristina.”

If anything, the calendar has shown me that, sometimes in relationships, there are non-negotiables. I just never thought, not even in my darkest moments, that Whitney Houston would be one of them.

Please, pick out your 2014 calendars early. And do it together. Your year depends on it.