Sweat rolls down Alice’s face as she sleeps, cascading around the oxygen mask muzzling her nose and mouth. Nurse Tom, in full hazmat suit, checks Alice’s IV, presses a button to silence a beeping machine, and places a cool cloth on his patient’s forehead. Nurse Tom twists the plastic cap off a bottle of TastyWater, pours some into a Styrofoam cup, and leaves it on Alice’s bedside table in the event that today is the day she wakes up.
Alice’s grade 11 Environmental Studies students gather outside the big glass wall of her quarantined hospital room because the school only had one Environmental Studies teacher (Alice) and now these kids all have a last period spare.
This superbug Alice has contracted is the 999th confirmed case of antibiotic-immune bacteria in the Greater Toronto Area.
Nurse Tom unpins the calendar from the bulletin board over Alice’s bed. He flips the page to December and pins it back up.
December 1: Phishing Prevention Day
Stop clicking links in bogus emails. You’re costing your employers millions. What is it that gets you? The promise of a “larger unit?” Subject lines like, “Confidence Pills…Cheap” or “Totally Real Stock Tips?” Blindly clicking links and opening attachments is akin to having sex without a condom: there are bugs everywhere out there, just waiting for you to let your guard down. Help us spread the word by forwarding this message to everyone in your contacts list—tell them to click the “Practice Safe Emailing (and Sex)” link for additional helpful tips. Toronto forecast: 26°C, mainly sunny.
December 2: Rock Hard Abs Appreciation Day
For too long, men and women with rock hard abs have been alone in appreciating their own rock hard abs (typically in front of change room mirrors). Seriously, do you know how hard it is to get rock hard abs? Participate in today’s March to End Obliviousness about Rock Hard Abs—the exercise might even help you firm up that soft middle of yours, tubby.
December 3: First Annual Heckle a Scientist Day
The scientists have been muzzled; they can’t say anything back. It’s amazing. They have to stand there and take it like those British guards with the big fuzzy hats. Toronto forecast: -1°C, freezing rain.
December 4: Drone Safety Day
Yes, there is a metric ton of traffic up there. Mid-air collisions are not necessarily intentional. Drone safety starts with minimizing air rage, so breathe, take it easy, and have a cold refreshing bottle of TastyWater. Why do you have to get upset over every little thing? Didn’t anyone ever teach you to pick your battles? Everyone’s got a drone to fly. A little consideration goes a long way. And, for the love of god, can we collectively agree to stop hovering outside the windows of those who are careless with their curtains? It’s called not living up to the stereotype that all drone operators are perverts? We all love the naked human body as much as the next special interest group, but let’s try to keep it professional up there.
December 5: Deter a Smoker Day
Don’t be afraid to get right up in their face about it. Smoking tobacco is socially unacceptable now—strength in non-smoking numbers! Toronto forecast: 24°C, partially cloudy.
December 6: Day to End Vaping
Because, really, just smoke a cigarette. You look stupid.
December 7: Ham Sandwich Appreciation Day
The ham sandwich—increasingly demonized for its “unnecessary” slaughter of “innocent” pigs—doesn’t enjoy the love it once enjoyed. Do we want the pigs to have died in vain? The best way to honour the pigs is to eat their carcasses. They’re already dead. What are we going to do, just toss out all that perfectly good meat? Let us appreciate the ham sandwich. The pigs would have wanted it that way. Toronto forecast: 41°C, heat alert.
December 8: TastyWater Superbug Selfie Challenge Day
Post a selfie of yourself enjoying a cold, refreshing bottle of TastyWater and the TastyWater Corporation will donate five cents to superbug research. Together we can take the super out of superbug! Don’t forget to tag your selfie with #TastyWaterIsAnEthicalForwardThinkingCompany to make sure your entry counts. Important cause! Spread the word. The clock is ticking on people with this terrible affliction. Look at poor Alice here (pictured with bottle of TastyWater on bedside table). She’s been unconscious for weeks. And her grade 11 Environmental Studies students? There’s less of them looking in on their teacher through that big glass wall because some of them are using their last period spare to make out behind dumpsters and try out this vaping thing everyone’s talking about. So let’s see those selfies. Help us help doctors help Alice.
December 9: Hug a Proctologist Day
Look, they don’t want to be up in there any more than you want them up in there, but those action figures have to come out. Show some appreciation. Wouldn’t you say their job is a total pain in the…butt? We’ll be here all day. Toronto forecast: 43°C, crazy humid.
December 10: Frolic in Nature Day (weather permitting)
Get out there and enjoy this balmy winter weather. Have a picnic, frolic in the bushes, join the tree-huggers and hug a tree. But if it happens to be at all chilly and you’re not up for frolicking in nature, Plan B could be to find one of those tree-huggers and ask where their global warming is now. Watching them try to explain science they don’t understand is a delightful little shit show.
December 11: Mysterious Itch Identification Day
As usual, mobile dermatology labs will be set up in a neighbourhood near you. Frolic in Nature Day participants encouraged to attend. Toronto forecast: 45°C, gustnado watch.
December 12: Airborne Sheet Metal Awareness Day
How many unsuspecting pedestrians must be decapitated by untethered sheet metal blowing away from rooftop construction sites before we, as a society, act? With the sustained winds and unpredictable supergusts nowadays, the amount of sheet metal swirling around out there is only going to rise. Until our lawmakers beef up (and actually enforce) our sheet metal regulations, keep your heads up.
December 13: Toenail Fungus Sympathy Day
It’s time toenail fungus sufferers got the sympathy they deserve. What, just because toenail fungus isn’t one of the sexier ailments, these poor folks have to go unrecognized? Well, guess what, sometimes we have to face things we don’t want to face. Sometimes we have to pay attention to the discoloured, smelly signals our bodies are sending us and adjust our behaviours to avoid a full-blown discoloured, smelly public health catastrophe. Bring a toenail fungus sufferer near you some synthetic socks and watch their face light up. Toronto forecast: 47°C, gustnado imminent.
December 14: Preferred Sexual Position Verbalization Day
It’s healthier when we can be open about sex. Plus, wouldn’t you like to enjoy yourself for once? Today’s the day to come out and tell your partner what drives you crazy (in a good way) and what drives you crazy (in a bad way). Your loins will thank you. Enjoy.
December 15: Day of Remembrance for that Time Richard Gere Learned Sign Language to Communicate with his Deaf Driver
Today marks a decade since Mr. Gere’s viral Facebook post about how he googled sign language in the back of a cab to say “thank you” to his hearing-impaired driver. A candlelight vigil will be held to compensate Mr. Gere for the online backlash he endured for coming across braggy about his good deed. Yes, Mr. Gere has since confirmed that the story was fake (and that he doesn’t even know what The Face Book is), but we take today to remember the general message of kindness/consideration anyway. Toronto forecast: 20°C, calm and clear, post-gustnado.
December 16: TastyWater Let’s Get to the Bottom of Why There’s Hardly Any Bees Left Day
The superbug thing brought in so much money—for the cause, we’re focusing on the cause—so TastyWater is at it again. This time for the bees! Post a selfie of yourself enjoying a cold, refreshing bottle of TastyWater and the TastyWater Corporation will donate five cents to getting to the bottom of why there’s hardly any bees left. Don’t forget to tag it with #TastyWaterIsAnEthicalForwardThinkingCompany to make sure your entry counts. Important cause! Spread the word. Back to the superbug thing for a second: Alice’s quarantine room is empty and her Environmental Studies students are gone. Nurse Tom is wheeling in this new unconscious superbug patient named Bruce. And—lucky Bruce—his superbug is officially the GTA’s 1,000th confirmed case, which, given the nice round number, means some reporters and camera crews may be popping by the hospital later today. We’ve sent someone to look into whether Alice got better (thanks to our company’s efforts) or was carted to the morgue (in which case, it was out of our hands, but hopefully the money we raised will help this Bruce guy). Anyway, about the bees: let’s see those selfies!
December 17: National Day to End Corporate Sponsorship of Social Issues
Is it not icky to have these corporations use society’s problems as marketing opportunities? How about, if you really want to help, just write a damn cheque for the cause and stop being all loud about how great you are? We don’t want to get into naming names, but when certain companies that bottle natural resources flip-flop on which issue to “own,” it feels decidedly unethical and backward thinking. All of this and more at tonight’s town hall at Budweiser Stage. Toronto forecast: -16°C, thundersnow.
December 18: Day to End Fresh Water Pilfering
Piggybacking on yesterday’s corporate sponsorship thing, we’re here to publicly shame certain unethical and backward-thinking companies that syphon the Earth’s life blood out of the Earth, bottle it, and sell it back to us with their stupid lip-smacking logo (indicating tastiness) on the label. Join us for this evening’s event: Jell-O Shooters to End Fresh Water Pilfering. Always a great time: after your first six or seven shots you’ll even forget what cause you’re supporting! We understand it’s easy to get bummed out by all the bad news out there, which is why sometimes it’s nice to incorporate booze into fundraisers: toss back a buttload of Jell-O shooters and numb the part of the brain that gets bummed out. Do yourself a favour though: after all the shooters, don’t go home with that guy at the end of the bar who’s always scratching his crotch. It won’t lead anywhere good (and Mysterious Itch Identification Day next December is a long ways off). See? We already forgot what cause we’re supporting! And hey, that guy at the end of the bar is attractive. Who says social do-goodery can’t be fun?
December 19: Humour a Conspiracy Theorist Day
Take a day (today!) to hear them out. Have some empathy for these folks and their busy minds. Moon landings were faked, you say? Elvis is not only alive, but managing a KFC in Indianapolis? The planet is doing everything in its power to eradicate mankind? Let them talk and smile through it, knowing you’re better than them—if it helps, there might be a couple Jell-O shooters leftover from yesterday. Toronto forecast: 20°C, rain, flash floods.
December 20: Day of Appreciation for Phil Collins Lyrics
Seriously, listen to the words in those songs. The man wasn’t just good at the drums. He didn’t just have a voice sent to us from heaven. He tried to get people to focus on important social issues. Sadly, all anyone cares about is what’s going on in their own little bubble. Just another day in paradise? Wake up and smell the injustice.
December 21: Middle-Aged White Male Day
Privilege schmivilege. Middle-aged white males are people too. Find one and tell them they’re alright in your book (if you say it to the right one, who knows, maybe they’ll even hook you up with a sweet internship—they have connections). Toronto forecast: 25°C, sustained winds, unpredictable supergusts, potential airborne sheet metal.
December 22: No Sexting and Walking Day (in conjunction with National Preservation of Snails on the Sidewalk Day)
Save that dick pic for later. Do you want to walk off the curb, get hit by a motor vehicle, and have a first responder find that shit on your phone? Plus, think of all the snails on the sidewalk you won’t have to hear crunch underfoot when you pay attention to where you’re stepping.
December 23: Overpriced Fossil Fuel Outrage Day
Can you please make it more expensive for us regular working-class folks to get to and from work? If we didn’t have regular working-class jobs to get to and from, we’d organize and congregate and show you how angry we are rather than bottling it up and taking it out on our spouses after work. Toronto forecast: 0°C, freezing drizzle, potential flurries in time for Santa!
December 24: Bacon Shortage Panic Day
Calmly acknowledging perpetually low pork belly inventories, we’ve partnered with the Ham Sandwich Appreciation people to raise money for the creation of Pigs Unlimited: Toronto’s new happy place for pigs to breed and roam and breed and graze and breed (and where nothing bad will ever happen to the bacon—we mean, pigs).
December 25: Religious Observance of Your Choosing Day
Look, do whatever you want today, just don’t wish anyone anything—you know how sensitive people are. If you’re going to strike up a faith-based conversation with someone, do it with an atheist. Convert the hell out of them. Those people are animals. Toronto forecast: 10°C, steam devil over Lake Ontario.
December 26: National Day of Advocacy for Nuclear Disarmament
Because why do we want to kill ourselves? There are so many other things in this world that will do that for us.
December 27: National Day of Advocacy for Nuclear Proliferation
Because those soft pinko lefties are turning us into a nation of soft pinko lefties. Enough of this hippie political correctness. Religious Observance of Your Choosing on December 25th? Really? Keep the Christ in Christmas, keep the nukes proliferating, and if you don’t like it go back wherever you came from (unless where you came from is here, in which case stay, but quit ruining everything for the rest of us). Toronto forecast: 63°C, scattered flame cyclones (stay indoors).
December 28: TastyWater Cycle Against Superbugs Day (formerly Diabetes Awareness Day)
The thing about the bees was a flop (apparently no one cares about the bees), so TastyWater is back to fighting the fight against the superbugs. Such an important cause. You might be wondering what happened to Diabetes Awareness Day. TastyWater bought out the diabetes people for the rights to December 28th because, really, what’s a bigger threat to humanity, diabetes or the superbugs? Sadly, it turns out Alice is dead. So let’s help out Mr. One Thousand (Bruce)! Grab your bike. Go cycle somewhere. And while you’re at it, post a selfie of yourself enjoying a cold, refreshing bottle of TastyWater. You remember the hashtag, right? #TastyWaterIsAnEthicalForwardThinkingCompany. Five cents to superbug research for each one. Spread the word. The clock is ticking.
December 29: National Crud off the Streets Day
What a mess all those cyclists made yesterday. The streets are littered with cycling bibs and orange-stained Styrofoam containers from when they all went for wings after. So let’s get out there and pick up after those slobs. Let’s show them what a respectable city looks like! Toronto forecast: 30°C, lingering flame-cyclone-related wildfires at various city golf courses, the Toronto Islands, and that green patch in front of Queen’s Park.
December 30: Big Picture Appreciation Day
As usual, The Fourth Wall art gallery will be offering free admission to its Big Picture exhibit: literally, the largest photograph in the world, ever. Remember, when you stand before the big picture, when you’re considering it, step back from it, open your mind, take it all in, notice how insignificant (and unworthy of your time) some of the smaller elements are. Actually, as an exercise, prioritize the various elements, distinguish the crucial from the extraneous. How does this make you feel? Reflect on what this says, generally, about our collective focuses and energies. Also, take the time to appreciate the subtle (and not so subtle) metaphors at work. Free lunch (ham sandwiches and TastyWater).
December 31: Day in Support of No One but Yourself
Sometimes it can feel like there’s a day for everything. Everything except you. Take today, ignore all those other causes, and do something kind for yourself. Buy that gas-guzzling Hummer you’ve had your eye on. Get that facial tattoo you’ve always wanted. Solicit a prostitute for once. While you’re out and about, enjoy a free bottle of TastyWater at one of dozens of pop-up TastyWater stands throughout the city, on this the Fourth Annual Day in Support of No One but Yourself (sponsored by TastyWater).
Nurse Tom, hung over from New Year’s, face bandaged from that forehead tattoo he treated himself to yesterday, unpins the calendar from the bulletin board in the hospital’s quarantine room and tosses it into the garbage. He opens the new calendar to January and pins it up.
Sweat rolls down Bruce’s face as he sleeps, cascading around the oxygen mask muzzling his nose and mouth. Nurse Tom, in full hazmat suit, checks Bruce’s IV, presses a button to silence a beeping machine, and places a cool cloth on his patient’s forehead. Toronto forecast: 26°C, mainly sunny.
– Adam Giles
Author’s Note: This story was previously published in The Sandy River Review (Spring 2017).