December 1, Wednesday
Rafe was shaking his head as he watched Jim limp out of the break room. "If it was me, I would have snagged at least a couple of days of sick leave, but Ellison gets a walking cast right away and boom--here he is. Anyone want to start a pot on how long it'll be before he starts bugging Simon about being allowed to go out in the field again?"
"I would," said Blair, "but ethics don't allow. I happen to know that his first stop today was Simon's office. He tried to bribe Simon by offering him first crack at our latest method of celebrating a holiday."
Henri groaned. "You mean to tell me that you're keeping this lunacy going for another month?"
"No. I mean that we are keeping this lunacy going for at least another three months." When Henri groaned again, Blair took a pie out of the refrigerator and offered it to him.
Grudgingly, Henri accepted a slice, saying, "What kind is it?"
"We're celebrating two holidays in one again, so Happy National Pie Day, and Happy Eat A Red Apple Day. Usually I use Granny Smiths in pie, but I figured if I used a little more spice and lemon juice, the Red Delicious would work okay, so..."
Henri was staring at Blair, the piece of pie almost forgotten. Rafe took the plate, and patted Henri on the back. "Hang tough, H. Only eighty-nine days to go. Maybe we'll get lucky, and most of them will be for food."
December 2, Thursday
"See?" said Rafe, munching on a bumpy, sugar glazed fried pastry. "I told you it wouldn't be so bad. Happy National Fritters Day."
Henri scowled. "Shut up, and don't you dare eat the last cherry one."
December 3, Friday
Simon's voice could be heard echoing down the hallway. "Who the hell set up the portable beach cabana in the Bull Pen, as if I didn't know?"
Blair used his best soothing voice. "You see, it's National Roof-Over-Your-Head Day, and Jim isn't up to doing any repair work. He refused to allow me up on a ladder without him there to spot for me, so..."
"Take it down!"
December 4, Saturday
Blair: "But Jim, I don't want to wear my Doc Martins around the house. They're heavy, and since we're staying home, I want to go barefoot today. I thought you liked to see me barefooted."
Jim: "Don't try to wiggle out of this. I'm complying."
Blair: "You're only wearing one."
Jim: "If you can figure out a way for me to get a shoe on the foot that's in a cast, I'd be happy to hear about it. Look, you were the one who suggested continuing this holiday thing, so bite the bullet and put on the damn shoes."
Blair: "One hour."
Jim: "You wish. I'll cut you some slack, though. You can take them off after lunch, and no, we will not eat early."
Blair: grumble mutter
Jim: "What was that?"
Blair: "I said Happy Wear Brown Shoes Day."
Jim: "Sure you did."
December 5, Sunday
Blair: "I thought we'd already done National Sacher Torte Day."
Jim: "Nope. That was German Day, and it wasn't Sacher Torte--it was Black Forest cake."
Blair: "What's the difference?"
Jim: stares "As much as you've traveled, you don't know the difference? I suppose you don't know the difference between Chicken Cordon Bleu and Chicken Kiev."
Jim: "In the early 1800s, the Congress of Vienna ruled that a Sacher Torte was two layers of chocolate cake, separated by apricot jam, and with chocolate glaze on the top and sides. Nary a cherry involved, and you'd better have a damn good reason why you're hefting that slice of cake up to shoulder level and eyeing me."
December 6, Monday
In the break room, Henri took a large Tupperware container out of the refrigerator, peeled up the lid, and peeked inside, then winced. "Blair, I hate to tell you this, but your tomato salad has gone bad. It's all soupy."
"Perhaps," said Blair, "That's because it's not salad. Happy National Gazpacho Day."
Henri shook his head. "I'll try it, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of cold tomato soup."
Megan came in. "Why are there mittens hanging on every coat hook in the Bull Pen?"
"Because we didn't have the time to build a traditional mitten dryer," said Blair. "Happy Mitten Tree Day."
Megan shook her head. "It isn't cold enough to wear mittens. Where did you get them?"
"Jim cleaned out the lost and found box. We had to beat dust off of some of them. There's this one really bizarre pair that's striped in red and green, and..."
Joel came in, beaming. "Someone found the pair of mittens I lost two years ago. My Aunt Fanny knitted them for me, and I didn't have the heart to tell her they were gone. Now I can wear them this Christmas. You know, I'll never figure out how that woman can work the knitting into stripes, much less that little Rudolph the Reindeer pattern on the backs."
December 7, Tuesday
Jim: "Blair, you have two paper clips stuck to your hair."
Blair: "Thanks, Jim. You have some lint on your chin, and Megan, it looks like you have pink cobwebs down the front of your shirt."
Megan: "Shite! Someone hand me a WetNap." Joel hands her a wipe. She has to tug, since it doesn't want to come loose for a moment. "Thanks. And while you're at it, snag one for yourself.
Simon is watching all this with a jaundiced air.
Simon: "Ellison, Sandburg--the next time National Cotton Candy Day rolls around, celebrate it at home." He turns and leaves.
Blair: "Shouldn't we tell him about the wisps stuck to the top of his head?"
December 8, Wednesday
There was a small, flat gift-wrapped package on each desk in the Bull Pen. Henri stared at his suspiciously. "Okay, what it is?"
Blair and Jim were sporting equally enigmatic expressions. Blair said, "Open it and find out."
"I'm afraid to."
Megan grabbed hers. "Well, I'm not. This size package usually means jewelry, or at least a gift certificate." She ripped the paper off, and stared, then looked at Jim and Blair. "Qtips?"
Blair shrugged, and Jim said, "Frankly, that was the only way we could think of to celebrate Take It In The Ear Day without doing something that might court harassment charges."
Megan sighed. "This reminds me. It's time to take Licorice to the vet to have him checked for ear mites."
Henri groaned. "I could have lived my entire life without hearing that. You know, that cat is responsible for all this insanity. If you hadn't gotten him, you never would have been discussing Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, which wouldn't have brought up the whole holiday thing."
Megan smirked. "I have news for you, Henri. I think this is sort of fated."
"I don't care. I think I'll buy that cat a present--like a pit bull puppy."
December 9, Thursday
The people in Vice stared in dismay at the Donut Girl's cart. It was totally empty, except for the urns of tea and coffee. There wasn't a donut, eclair, cream puff, or Rice Krispy treat in evidence. The plates were empty of even crumbs and bits of glaze.
Wannamaker glared, but when he spoke to the Donut Girl, his voice was level. He knew damn good and well that it wasn't intelligent to get belligerent with someone who handled your food. "So, what happened?"
The Donut Girl was looking a little dazed, but very happy. "Major Crimes said that they wanted to make up to me for last year's Great Donut Drought. They cleaned me out. Oh, and Detective Ellison said to tell you Happy National Pastry Day. I could hardly hear him, because everyone else was laughing so hard, and giving each other high fives."
Wannamaker gritted his teeth. "This means war."
One of the vice detectives whispered to another, "This means war? Hell, everyone in this station qualifies as a veteran."
December 10, Friday
wheeeee-ee oooouh bloop bloop
The door to Simon's office slammed open. "What the hell is that? It sounds like we're being haunted." Everyone shuffled their feet, not responding. Simon traced the eerie sounds to a tape recorder on Blair's desk. "I should have known." He stabbed the STOP button. "I repeat--what is that?"
"Whale sounds," said Blair.
"And we're hearing this because?"
"Festival For The Souls Of Dead Whales. I figured this would be better than trying to raise a spirit with a Ouija board. The idea of something that big, ectoplasmic or not, in the Bull Pen..."
"And they probably wouldn't have been house trained," added Jim. Simon shook his head and left, muttering to himself.
"What did he say?" asked Blair.
"I think it was something along the lines of 'I'd write a book, but they'd never believe it was non-fiction'."
December 11, Saturday
Blair was reaching into the bowl Jim had placed on the counter. "Ow!" He jerked his hand back, shaking it from the rap on the knuckles he'd received. "Hey, those wooden spoons hurt."
"I didn't raise you to just stick your hand into a bowl of food," said Jim. "If you must, use a fork. And can't you wait?"
"I'm not hungry, man. I'm going to celebrate the holiday." He extracted a single, long noodle, then wound it around his finger. "There. Happy National Noodle Ring Day." He made a face. "Ew, it's buttered."
"No duh, and nice try, but that doesn't count."
"Does so. If you can get away with feeling up your cap for felt hat day, I can use a noodle for a ring."
"Okay, you do it your way, I'll to it the right way."
"And the right way is?" Jim had taken a ring mold out of the cabinet. "I don't believe this. I didn't even know you had that."
"How did you think I made the Jello salad for the Valentine's Day party last year?"
"You made that? I was spending so much time at the Uni, that I thought you just picked it up from a deli. Damn, Jim--you have hidden talent! That decoration with the miniature marshmallows and pecan halves was masterful." Blair watched as Jim packed the buttered noodles into the pan, then slipped it into the oven. "What do you do with it when it's done?"
He stirred a pot that was sitting on the stove. "Fill it with chicken a la king and eat that puppy."
"I think you're channeling the spirit of Donna Reed, or possibly Beaver's mom."
"As long as it's not Martha Stewart."
December 12, Sunday
"When ah was, a little bitty boy, mah Grandmother gave me a wonderful toy. It was silver bells, hangin' on a string. She told me it was..." ching-ching-ching "Mah ding-a-ling-a-ling."
Blair was grinning. "Cute, Jim. Very, very cute. And I think you deserve points for being willing to hang the Christmas bells from your own, personal ding-a-ling to celebrate National Ding-A-Ling Day. I gotta tell you, with that hip action, you could make some major money at a gay strip club. Now get over here."
December 13, Monday
Everyone was in the break room. Henri, Joel, Rafe, Megan, and Simon were all staring in disbelief at the cold, creamy objects in the dishes in front of them. After a moment's pause, Rafe said, "I guess I have to be the one to ask again. How the hell did you get the ice cream shaped like little fiddles, and more importantly--why?"
"They're not fiddles--they're violins, and you can find molds for almost anything in a cake decoration shop," said Blair, "Because? It's Ice Cream and Violins Day."
"You have to wonder what some of these people were on when they came up with these holidays."
Megan reached for the bottle sitting on the table. "Probably chocolate syrup. Excuse me while I have my own fix."
"This could be dangerous," said Henri. "When she's under the influence of chocolate, there's no telling what she might nominate for a holiday."
Megan paused between spoonfuls. "Kangaroos."
"I'm outta here."
December 14, Tuesday
Everyone who came onto Major Crime's floor started wrinkling their noses immediately. Wanamaker said, "I'd believe that Ellison and Sandburg had been off on one of their camping and fishing expeditions if it was Monday, and I didn't know what a bad ass for bathing Ellison was, but I can't figure out any other reason we'd have that fishy smell."
The Donut Girl paused in rearranging a pile of donut holes. "It's National Bouillabaisse Day. Apparently Blair has a recipe he got from a French archeologist when he was over studying those cave paintings. It tastes great."
"Hey, you got some and we didn't?"
"Oh, I nearly forgot. He did send some up for you." She handed him a Styrofoam container. As Wanamaker eagerly took it and began to pry up the lid, she said, "Now, what was it he wanted me to tell you about this?" There was a yell, and the cup and its contents went flying. The Donut Girl dodged neatly. "Oh, yeah. He said that you might find the fish heads just a little bit startling."
December 15, Wednesday
The detectives of Major Crimes were happily munching on sweet, pungently citrusy cupcakes. "I gotta admit, while chocolate is usually my favorite, National Lemon Cupcake Day isn't too bad," said Megan. She gestured at Blair. "Yours has decoration."
He was studying it, smiling. "Yup."
She peered over his shoulder, squinting. "If I used a little imagination, I might say that looked like you."
"It's supposed to," said Jim. As the others filed out, finishing their snacks, Jim smiled at Blair. "You do know what that is?"
He smirked back. "If I had to guess, I'd say it was a lemon Gupcake." Jim bowed. "Your weirdness is coming along nicely."
December 16-17, Thursday and Friday
The detectives were gathered around Jim and Blair, watching them expectantly. Blair was about to bounce with enthusiasm. Jim was gritting his teeth. "I don't want to do this."
"Oh, come on, Jim," said Blair. "You promised."
"But Blair, it's even sillier than most of the other stunts we've done for the holidays."
"Do I have to remind you of last night?" Jim's eyes unfocused slightly. "And do I also need to remind you of what will happen tonight, provided you cooperate?"
"All right. Start the damn tape, and I'll never understand how you managed to come up with this particular piece of music."
"You can find anything on the Internet, if you know how to ask the right questions." Blair pushed the PLAY button, and quick, forceful, rather urgent sounding music started. Blair started to sing. "When criminals in this world appear and break the laws that they should fear, and frighten all who see or hear, the cry goes up from far and near for *Underdog!*" He poked Jim.
"Speed of lightening, roar of thunder, fighting all who rob or plunder." Jim looked as if he was sucking on a lemon.
Blair joined him in the last part of the chorus. "Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!"
Blair started off again. "When in this world the headline reads of those whose hearts are filled with greed..." Jim punched the STOP button. "Hey!" Jim gave him a 'look'. "Okay, okay. I guess it qualifies. You have fits of being no fun, Ellison. Happy Underdog Day, everybody."
The others started drifting off to their various tasks, some of them shaking their heads. Megan waited till Jim had left the room, then sidled over to Blair. "All right, Sandy. What blackmail are you holding over Ellison's head to get him to agree to that cute little farce?"
Blair shrugged, grinning. "Just the carrot and stick approach, Megan. I gave him something he wanted last night to get him to agree, and held out the offer of something else he'd like tonight."
Megan was grinning. "And this would be?"
Blair wiggled his eyebrows. "Let me just say that yesterday was National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, and besides being Underdog Day, today is also National Maple Syrup Day."
Megan laughed. "I'll bet Ellison has had to start going to the gym more often since he met you, Sandy."
December 18-20, Saturday-Monday
Henri was squinting at the large, glossy picture that was tacked to the bulletin board, surrounded by a wreath of tiny, artificial apples. The printing at the top said GOURMET. "What the hell is that? It looks like a skinned possum."
"Didn't you ever take biology?" asked Blair.
"Sure I did."
"Think back to lab. What did you have to dissect?"
"Let me think... Earthworms, frog, fetal pig..." He winced. "Oh, man."
Blair nodded. "Belated Happy Roast Suckling Pig day. We celebrated Saturday by making a copy of the picture and weaving the wreath. As much as Jim and I like to fix and bring in the appropriate foods, neither one of us had the time, energy, or (I'll admit it) confidence to tackle that one."
Henri peered at the picture again, then walked away, muttering, "Now I'm going to think about fetal pigs every time I come near a pork chop. It's enough to put a man off pork products for a month."
Blair raised his voice. "You'll find oatmeal muffins in the break room. Belated Happy Oatmeal Muffin Day. We had ours yesterday, but we brought the rest of the batch in. Jim said if we ate all of them, we'd be way too regular. Maybe they'll settle your stomach."
Megan watched Henri go, then said, "That was a nasty trick to play on Henri, Sandy. You could have just told him what it was."
"That wouldn't have been as much fun." He smiled. "And it wouldn't have helped me celebrate today's holiday. I figure that playing head games qualifies, so Happy Games Day."
She shook her head. "You two are really working at this. At least you'll have a little bit of a rest when Christmas rolls around. You won't need to do anything extra to celebrate them."
Blair shook his head, too. "Megan, Megan, Megan. You don't really believe we'd take the easy way out, do you?"
"You mean to tell me that there's another holiday for Christmas?"
"And for Christmas Eve, though we won't have to really do anything we wouldn't ordinarily do to celebrate them."
"What are they?" Blair just grinned at her. She sighed. "Mind games?" He nodded. "When will I learn?"
December 21, Tuesday
Megan eyed Rafe. "Why are you looking so disgruntled?"
"Because I found out that today is both Hamburger Day and French Fried Shrimp Day, and Ellison and Sandburg just went out to lunch and indulged instead of bringing in samples."
"You're spoiled, Rafe."
A sudden light flashed in Rafe's eyes, and he quickly covered his eyes. "What the hell?"
"They didn't entirely cut us out." Rafe lowered his hand and looked. Megan was playing with a penlight. "It's also Flashlight Day."
"You didn't have to try to blind me."
"Sure I did." She grinned. "It's also Look At the Bright Side Day."
Rafe covered his eyes again. "Their corruption is spreading."
December 22, Wednesday
This close to Christmas, it wasn't unusual for sweet breads to make an appearance. Rafe looked at the plate discontentedly. "No banana?"
Blair glared at him. "Megan's right--you are spoiled. Why would I bring banana bread on National Date-Nut Bread Day? Now, shut up and hand me the cream cheese."
December 23, Thursday
"I think the family tree charts are a good idea for Roots Day, Jim," said Blair.
"Yeah. And Blair? You do know not to make any Kunta Kinte remarks around Simon, right?"
"Gimme a little credit, man. Though I might toss in an Alex Haley comment."
"What? It's perfectly legitimate. He traced his ancestry back to Africa to learn who he was. Modern anthropology at its best."
December 24, Friday
Henri stared at the cup of thick, creamy liquid. "I'd prefer that hot apple-cinnamon punch."
"It's good," agreed Jim, dusting nutmeg into Henri's drink. "But it's National Egg Nog Day, not National Wassail Day."
Rafe looked up, a foamy white moustache coating his upper lip. "Is there a National Wassail Day?"
"I wouldn't be at all surprised. I'm sorry I couldn't wait till after work to spring this on you guys--we could have had it laced with rum then."
"Rum?" said Megan. "Whiskey, Ellison--whiskey."
Blair finished his cup and chirped, "We have to find out if there's a National Recipe Exchange Day." Everyone stared at him. "Maybe not."
December 25, Saturday
"You know, I can point to at least one positive effect this holiday thing has had," said Blair, as he finished the last bite of his Christmas dinner dessert.
"What would that be?" asked Jim.
"Since today is National Pumpkin Pie Day, at least we didn't have an argument over whether the proper Christmas dessert was pumpkin or mincemeat pie."
"You're never going to let me forget that 'let's figure out the menu together' fiasco on Thanksgiving, are you?"
December 26, Sunday
Blair's voice was petulant. "There's no white meat left."
Jim's voice was equally petulant. "Someone ate the last piece of pie."
"I missed seeing Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer this year."
"Yeah? Well, I missed It's a Wonderful Life."
"I didn't get a single new flannel shirt."
"My T-shirt is about two sizes too small."
"I did that on purpose. You can see every--single--muscle."
Pause. "Have we done enough to celebrate National Whiners Day?"
"I think so. Unless you're going to make me beg for you to come over here and..."
"Yeah, we've done enough."
December 27, Monday
Jim and Blair both stared at the three dense, dark, lumpy loaves sitting on the plates before them. Jim sighed. "I never buy one, but somehow every year I end up with two or three of these."
Blair was watching the blocks suspiciously. "Ya know, man, I think the damn things spontaneously generate. I'm almost positive that we only had two in the cabinet a week ago, and now there are three."
"Megan gave us one."
Blair winced. "She still hasn't forgiven me for that Old Maid Day thing. We ought to get this over with."
"Agreed." Jim shaved two slices off a loaf. The slices were so thin that they fell into crumbs, bits of citron, and candied cherries. Both men quickly ate the mess by scooping it up with a spoon. Many faces were made.
Blair sighed. "That's over with. Now, can we do the real celebration?"
"Oh, yeah." Jim handed Blair a knife, and the men quickly reduced the loaves to chunks, then carried the plates over to the sink. Jim turned on the water, and flipped a switch. There was the growl of a motor. "You may have the honor of making the first sacrifice."
Blair held a plate over the drain, but hesitated. "Man, you're sure that the garbage disposal is going to be able to stand up to this?"
"If it doesn't, it will be worth the repair fee. Go on."
"With pleasure." Blair tipped the plate, letting the chunks fall into the drain. The whirring became a little more strained. He used a wooden spoon to carefully poke all the mess into the drain. As the sound of the motor speeded up again, he grinned at Jim. "Happy National Fruitcake Day."
December 28, Tuesday
"Gimme four." Blair tossed down four cards.
As Joel dealt Blair four more cards, Megan said, "Oo, Sandy got a crap hand." She took a swig of beer as she studied her own cards. "Two." She tossed down two cards, and reached into the bowl of Bridge Mix sitting nearby as she waited for her cards. "I have to say, this is a nice change from the usual chips and pretzels."
"You would think that," grumbled Henri. "But there's just something wrong about eating chocolate covered peanuts while you play poker. Two."
As Joel dealt him two cards, he said, "I've noticed that you've managed to just about empty that bowl, H. And you can just keep your hands away from the Hershey's Miniatures. I already told you--I have dibs on all the Mister Goodbars. Rafe?"
"Blair isn't the only one who got a crap hand," grumbled Rafe, tossing down his discards. "Four. It's playing poker on Tuesday instead of Friday. I just can't catch a break on any day but Friday."
"Excuses, excuses," said Jim. "I'll take one, Joel."
"One for Ellison," said Joel. "Simon?"
"Two. And if we're having nothing but candy tonight, why the hell couldn't you have gotten some peppermints?"
"Dealer takes two. Simon, there are Junior mints right there."
"Not Junior Mints--plain peppermint. Why couldn't we have that, or maybe some caramels?"
Blair began, "We have..."
"I *see* the Milk Duds. I meant plain caramels. Why?"
"The change in snacks is because it's National Chocolate Day," said Blair.
"And to answer Rafe's complaint," said Jim, "we're playing poker today instead of Friday because it's Card Playing Day. Bets?"
Henri and Simon folded. Rafe, Jim, and Megan couldn't come up with anything better than a pair of jacks amongst them. "See what I mean about Tuesday being a bad day for playing poker?" groused Rafe.
"Ohh, I dunno about that," said Blair. He laid down four queens and an ace.
As Blair raked in the pot, Rafe leaned over to Henri and whispered, "We need to research this holiday thing. Maybe there's a Give an Anthropologist a Wedgie Day."
December 29, Wednesday
Blair carefully removed a container from the break room's microwave, took off the lid, and ladled steaming soup into Styrofoam bowls. Henri, Joel, Rafe, and Megan had been sniffing the scent with increasing eagerness, and they quickly took the bowls, grabbing spoons. They all sat at the table, and took spoonfuls almost simultaneously.
"This is pretty damn good," said Henri, taking another sip of soup.
"Mmm," said Rafe. "A little spicy, there."
"Yeah, it has a red chili pepper in it. I know most of you guys like a little spice, so I put in two instead of one."
"What sort of meat is this?" asked Joel. "It's not beef--it isn't dark enough. Chicken?"
"Nope," said Blair.
Megan tasted. "It's not pork?"
"No, it's not," said Jim. "And please don't anyone guess fish, since I know it doesn't have a fishy flavor."
"Give it up," said Henri. "What sort of soup is it?"
Jim and Blair exchanged looks, then chorused, "Happy Pepper Pot Day."
Henri and Megan immediately dropped their spoons, making faces. Joel shrugged, and kept on eating. "What?" said Rafe.
Megan said, "It's Pepper Pot."
"Yeah, Jim said there were peppers in it."
"The meat is tripe."
Rafe frowned. "What's that? I've heard my dad refer to nonsense as tripe."
Megan groaned. "Someone else tell him--I can't."
Joel said, "Tripe is the stomach lining of a cow or sheep. So, since this isn't beef, I guess that makes it mutton?" Blair nodded.
Henri, glaring at a grinning Jim, whispered to a slightly green Rafe, "I say we also try to find a Punk a Top Cop Day."
December 30, Thursday
"Okay," said Simon. "Why did we all get gift wrapped boxes of Alka-Seltzer?"
"Because," said Jim, "We know how you are about the unexpected, so celebrating Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute was out."
"And that left National Bicarbonate Of Soda Day," said Blair.
Simon sighed, picking up the blue box. "Actually, with all the insanity around here, I may have use for this."
December 31, Friday
In the break room, Megan handed Jim a flat, hinged plastic disc. "Here's that old compact you asked for, Jim."
"Thanks, Megan." Jim wrapped the compact in a bandana, then smacked it briskly against the counter.
There was a cracking sound, and Megan said, "Shite, Ellison! You have to have broken the mirror."
Jim unwrapped the compact and peeked into it. "Yep. Blair?"
Blair was pawing in one of the cabinet drawers. "Just a sec, man." He muttered to himself, "Ketchup, soy sauce, duck sauce, mustard, relish... Ah!" He held up a tiny white paper packet. "Salt!" He tore it open, and sprinkled it on the floor.
"Blair!" said Henri, "that's not just messy, it's unlucky. It's bad luck to spill salt. You should get a pinch and throw... it... over..." He paused, then sighed. "I thought you guys did Defy Superstitions Day already."
"We did. It's Bad Luck Day," explained Blair.
As Jim and Blair left the room, Joel was grinning. "What are you smiling about?" asked Rafe testily.
"I checked the holiday thing yesterday. Look in that cabinet."
Rafe did. "Damn. There's at least a dozen rolls of toilet tissue and a huge stack of paper towels in here. What does that mean?"
Joel smiled. "It means that they both had Mexican food for lunch, and they're both headed for the men's room." The others started to chuckle. "I hope Maintenance doesn't get too mad at me. I used washable marker when I wrote 'Happy Bad Luck Day' on the inside doors of all the stalls."
January 1, Saturday
"Why do Ellison and Sandburg want us to go down to the daily briefing for the officers?" asked Henri, as they stepped out of the elevator and headed toward the briefing room.
"I think it has something to do with that crazy holiday thing they're doing," said Rafe. "God, I hope it isn't anything too weird."
"I don't think it will be too bad," said Joel. "After all, they won't want to piss off anyone we may have to call for backup some day." Megan nodded agreement.
Simon was rubbing his forehead. "Why do I have the feeling that I should have had coffee before I came down here?"
Jim and Blair were standing just outside the meeting room. When Blair saw them, he beckoned. "Hurry up! They're going to have roll call any minute now!"
"Oh, we don't want to miss that," said Simon dryly.
The group gathered around the door, peering in. The room was filled with uniformed officers, male and female, sitting at long tables. Some were chatting, some were yawning some were reviewing notes. The duty sergeant, at the front of the room, glanced over, and Jim nodded at him. He cleared his throat, and the buzz of conversation died. "All right, you Thin Blue Line. Roll Call." He hesitated. "Zabriskie." Silence. The gathered officers were giving him puzzled looks. "Abel Zabriskie, are you here, or not?"
A young man in the back, voice clearly puzzled, called, "Here."
"Clean your ears out. "Zagreb." Another pause. *"Zagreb!"*
"Here!" This was an equally puzzled young woman.
"Here." This answer was immediate.
"You must have had your Wheaties before you came in today. Why are you people all so sluggish? You make me worried about sending you out."
"It's not that we're particularly dense today, Sarge," said the last man. "It's just that... Well... Usually we don't have to worry about our names being called till the end of the roll. We weren't expecting it."
The sergeant glanced over at the group gathered at the door. He winked. Jim and Blair winked back. The sergeant said, "Happy Z Day. Today is the day set aside so that all the people whose names begin with Z can come first instead of last when things are done alphabetically." There were murmurs of understanding, mixed with a few good-natured laughs--and groans.
Simon said, "We came down here early for that? Why?"
"Because," said Jim. "We feel it is our duty to get our fellow detectives involved with the celebrations as much as possible, and neither one of us could figure out what the hell First Foot Day was all about."
January 2, Sunday
"I'm glad this one fell on a Sunday," grumbled Jim.
"I'm glad you're patriotic enough to have a flagpole," said Blair. "As 'thumb your nose at authority' as Naomi raised me, I still wouldn't want to be caught doing anything hinky on Federal, State, or city public property. And I have to say, you're really in the spirit of the thing. I know how much you hate the basement, and it took dedication to make the trip down there to hunt for the pole."
Jim made a face as he screwed the short flagpole into the holder that he'd installed a couple of years before on the rail of the balcony. "I keep telling the landlord that there's damp and mice down there, but he won't believe me." Jim tapped the metal pole, and it rang. "That's why I don't store anything that could really deteriorate down there. Do you have the 'flags'?"
"Right here." Blair handed over a small bundle of black knit, and a larger one of plaid flannel. "How are you going to...?"
"I made little holes on each side of the waistbands. I just thread the cord through, like..." He worked for a moment. "so."
"Technically, this is wrong," said Blair. "There's only one 'it' in this holiday's name. We should..."
"Look, I'm not climbing out there, and if you try, I'll shoot you in the leg to keep you from killing yourself." He strung the cord on the flagpole, and looked back at Blair. "Ready?"
"Go for it." Jim pulled the cord, sending the two new 'flags' out to the end. As he clipped the end of the cord securely to its moor, a breeze came by, and the dangling cloth flapped briskly. The black briefs and plaid boxers waved in the wind. Jim was an ex-Ranger, so his 'attention' and salute might have been a bit more regulation, but Blair was no slouch.
As they relaxed, Blair said, "Now what?"
"Well, in the proper spirit of the day, I think we should stay out here at least an hour, and see if anyone else notices."
"I'm sitting down." He sat cross-legged on the balcony.
"No one can see you that way."
Blair nodded. "But there's a slit in the railing I can look through."
"Move over." Jim sat beside him. "We sit either an hour, or till someone responds."
"At this time of the morning, on a Sunday? I'm gonna freeze for an hour."
An elderly man was just coming up the street. He had a Styrofoam cup of coffee in one hand, and a newspaper in the other, and was sipping as he walked, glancing at the headlines. As he neared the building, the wind picked up, and the underwear snapped with the force.
Maybe there was a little of the Sentinel in him, because he stopped immediately, looked around, then looked up. His expression went blank when he caught sight of the flagpole.
"We're screwed, man," whispered Blair. "He's gonna report us for public indecency, or something."
"As far as I know," Jim whispered back, "There's no law about showing your underwear in public, as long as you're not in it at the time. And I think we have nothing to worry about. Watch him."
The man was smiling now. He set the cup down on the hood of a car parked nearby, and tucked the newspaper under his arm. Then he stood up, stiff and straight, eyes lifted to the flagpole, and saluted. Blair fell against Jim laughing while the old man calmly retrieved his coffee and went on his way. Jim took the opportunity to kiss his lover. "Happy Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day."
January 3, Tuesday
Everyone got sleep masks for the Festival of Sleep Day. Blair explained that pillows were too expensive, and they had figured that if anyone had actually tried to sleep at work... They had too much respect for Simon, and his ability to kick their asses--figuratively and literally.
January 4, Wednesday
"Hey, Henri? Do you know what John Denver's real name was?"
Henri looked at Jim. "It wasn't John Denver?"
"I have no idea."
"Henry John Deuchendorf."
Blair had sidled over to Megan's desk. "Megan, do you have any idea what Scarlet O'Hara's full name was by the end of the movie?"
Megan frowned in thought. "Shite. Let's see... If she held onto all her married names, um... Scarlet Wilkes Kennedy Butler."
"What? Sandburg, I've seen that movie at least a dozen times, and..."
"Why, Megan--you old romantic."
"And I know I got that right."
"Wrong. You missed her first name."
Megan stared at him. "Scarlet."
"Remember the scene early in the movie, when she talks to her father? He calls her Katie Scarlet O'Hara, so her first name was Katherine."
"Eh. What Henri said."
"Joel," said Jim, "Any idea what year Trivial Pursuit was first released?"
Joel sighed. "No, but I have a feeling that you're going to tell me."
"It was conceived in 1979, but it wasn't released till November 10th, 1981."
"Okay, before you ask me something trivial, and judging from what you just asked Joel," said Rafe. "I'm going to guess that today is something like Trivial Pursuit Day."
"Just Trivia Day," said Blair.
"Here's a trivia question for you," said Simon, from the doorway of his office. "How many police detectives are fired each year for constantly pissing off their captain?"
Jim and Blair hurried back to their desks, and Blair whispered, "I guess it's a good thing we didn't go with Humiliation Day."
January 5, Thursday
Rafe came into the Bull Pen, round-eyed. "I just saw Sandburg flip off Ellison, and he shot the rod right back, then they grinned."
Megan shrugged. "They've been doing it all day."
"As Blair explained it, today is Bird Day, and the list they consulted didn't specify what kind of bird, so they've been giving each other the bird all day."
Rafe sat down, shaking his head. "I used to think Ellison was only slightly cracked, and it was having Sandburg around that made him more nuts. Now I'm not so sure. I think he may just be reaching his full potential."
January 6, Friday
On Bean Day, Jim and Blair celebrated by having refried beans, pinto beans, and baked beans for lunch.
The natural results prompted Simon to give them the rest of the day off. He had his suspicions about it being accidental, since they were both snickering when they left.
January 7, Saturday
"Wella, wella, wella... If you knew Peggy Sue, then you'd know why I feel blue about Peggy--my Peggy Sue-ah-oo..."
Blair groaned and stuck his head under his pillow.
"Ah called up my congressman an' he told me, quote, 'I'd like ta help ya, son, but you're too young to vote.' Sometimes I wonder what I'ma gonna do, 'cause there ain't no cure for the summertime blues."
He dragged Jim's pillow over and piled it on top of the other one.
"You ain't nothin' but a hound dog, cryin' all the time. You ain't nothin' but a hound dog, cryin' all the time. Well, you ain't never caught a rabbit..."
Blair threw off the pillows, threw off the covers, and stomped down the stairs in his underwear. Jim was standing in front of the CD player, just changing discs. The music started up. "Oh, yeah I'll tell ya somethin', I think you'll understand. When I say that somethin'--I wanna hold your haaaan..."
Blair's hand shot out, and his finger hit the OFF button. Jim gave him an innocent look, and Blair growled, "I thought that we were going to the park to pick up a stone for Old Rock Day."
January 8, Sunday
Jim and Blair, bundled up warmly, were sitting on a bench in the park. Blair, despite multiple layers of clothing, was still shivering. "This isn't working out, man."
"Give it a little more time," said Jim.
"Look, we've been sitting here for a half hour, and no one except a few dragged out moms and some hyperactive kids have come past. We can't celebrate Man Watcher's Day if no actual men come by. And if they do pass, they'll be so bundled up we won't be able to watch much."
"Well, what would you suggest?"
"We have the Sports Pack. Let's just go catch any sports event we can find. I mean, hell--there aren't too many sports where the uniforms don't show off the bods."
Jim stood up. "C'mon. I think I spotted a rerun of the Men's National Gymnastics Finals in the program listing."
January 9, Monday
Rafe greeted Jim and Blair as they entered the Bull Pen. "Okay, what's the holiday for the day? Any food involved?"
"Nope," said Blair as he hung up his coat. "Today is Play God Day."
Rafe blinked. "Okay, this should be interesting."
"Not for you guys," said Jim. "We couldn't figure out a way to play God at work without getting in a truckload of trouble, and though some doctors think they're God, we decided not to count going to the doctor and having my cast taken off. He's a pretty decent guy."
"So you're back, full force?" asked Megan. Jim nodded. "You're not hobbled, and you're giving this one a pass?"
"Perish the thought" said Blair. He pulled a flat plastic box--a CD case--out of his backpack, and showed it to the others.
"I'm afraid to ask," said Henri, "but what is it?"
"It's a copy of The Sims that I borrowed from a friend. Tonight when we go home, Jim and I are going to spend a few hours directing every single aspect of the lives of little simulated people."
"And that's playing God?"
"Hey, we tell them when to eat, when to sleep, what jobs to get, what to study..." he grinned wickedly, "even when to pee."
"You're kidding me."
"If you make them wait too long, they whine and bounce up and down with their knees crossed, and if you still don't let them go, they cough have an 'accident'."
Henri stared. "That's evil."
"No," said Jim. "That's just kind of callous. What's evil is that you can kill them off by trapping them in a room with no exit and let them slowly starve to death. Or you can have them dive into a pool when they're tired, then remove the exit ladders, and let them drown--that's evil." Jim gave Blair a stern look.
"I'm only going to do it once to see if it really works," protested Blair.
"Why did you just borrow it?" asked Megan. "It sounds interesting enough to buy."
"Because since I borrowed it, I'll have to return it," Blair explained. "I can't afford to have it easily available. It's addictive. My friend was twitching when he handed it over, and I promised to have it back to him tomorrow."
When Jim and Blair had left the room, Simon said, "Okay, who wants to lay bets on which career track Ellison chooses--military, or law enforcement?"
January 10, Tuesday
Since it was Peculiar People Day, Jim said that all they had to do was be themselves.
January 11, Wednesday
Blair poked his head in the Bull Pen. When he caught Megan's attention, he said, "I have to be down in records for awhile. If Jim asks where I am--lie."
"Okay," Megan said agreeably. "If you'll tell me why."
"Because I got Jim to agree to let me be the one to celebrate the holiday today, and he didn't know it was National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day. He's in the men's room right now with a wad of paper towels, cussing a blue streak, and I figure it might be wise for me to fade into the background for awhile."
January 12, Thursday
Megan was scowling. "I want to know why I'm not invited out to lunch with the other guys."
"Because," said Jim, "It's the Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day, and you may be one ballsy broad..."
"Thank you." Her tone was not ironic.
"But you simply don't possess the equipment."
"Well, you're stretching it with Joel and Henri. I don't consider them wild."
"You haven't heard Joel tell stories from before his twelve step program, and," Jim smiled, "you didn't attend Henri's bachelor party."
January 13, Friday
"Hey, don't look at me," said Jim. "Blair's the one who didn't refill the water on the coffee maker after he had his last cup of tea."
"Yeah?" said Blair. "Well, Jim's the one who was supposed to bring the good coffee, but he forgot, and that's why you guys would have been drinking that generic crap if there was hot water."
Rafe looked at Henri. "I thought they already did Blame Someone Else Day?"
He nodded. "In August. I guess it's such a popular activity, the general population voted to do it twice."
January 14, Saturday
Jim was shaking his head, but smiling. "I thought Mrs. Logan was just being a good sport when she didn't complain about her dog coming home in that coolie hat."
"You haven't seen her walking him very much, have you?" said Blair. "Nelson has an entire wardrobe."
"Well, I'm glad she liked the present. I still think we should have just gotten him a doggie sweater. Those little booties just look..." Jim made a face like a Sentinel who has just bitten into a lemon--one which was half rotten.
"Hey, those booties serve a purpose, man, what with us being in an area that has snow on the ground a significant part of the year. Not only will they keep Nelson's feet warm, but they'll protect his paw pads from the salt people sprinkle on their walks to thaw the ice. Think about how you'd enjoy walking barefooted over salty ice slush."
"Personally, I think that anything more than maybe a bandana around the neck is silly, but when you're right--you're right. They are sensible. I think that the rhinestones on the sides were a bit much, though."
"They'll go great with the disco outfit she made him for Halloween. Happy National Dress Up Your Pet Day, man."
January 15, Sunday
Blair hid Jim's caps on Hat Day. Jim agreed to wear the pirate hat Blair had gotten for him, but only inside the loft.
He later admitted that it did make for some interesting role-playing.
January 16, Monday
Nothing unusual had happened in major crimes. No strange food appeared in the break room. No singing telegrams. No exotic animals roaming the room. No more-bizarre-than-usual behavior from Jim and Blair. They were just quietly going about their business. By quitting time, everyone's nerves were on edge. Everyone except Ellison and Sandburg was a little jittery.
Finally they were putting on their coats, ready to leave, and Megan blurted, "I can't stand it any more! I know you've somehow celebrated some sort of holiday." The two men gave her innocent looks. "Stop it! I just don't want to catch any fall out from it. Am I going to find mice in my car--for Give a Friend a Rodent Day?"
Rafe piped up. "Can I safely visit the john before I leave, or is it National Super Glue Day, and I'll spend the night sitting on the toilet if I don't check carefully?"
Henri chimed in. "Did you call my wife and tell her that I've won the lottery and won't be home because I've run off with the clerk who sold it to me?"
Joel blinked at him. "What sort of holiday would that be?"
Henri shrugged. "It was the best I could do on the spur of the moment."
"Relax, guys," said Jim. "We have, indeed, celebrated a holiday today--National Nothing Day." His colleagues wilted in relief. "And just be grateful that I talked Blair out of bringing his special Thai soup to lunch for Hot and Spicy Food International Day. I told him that I wouldn't want to have to deal with you people once your eyes stopped tearing up and your noses stopped running. Besides, those peppers the recipe calls for can raise welts, and I just don't loan my Blistex."
January 17, Tuesday
Mrs. Logan helped out again. Even though she was an Episcopalian, she was happy to take Nelson and accompany Jim and Blair to a local Catholic church for Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day.
January 18, Wednesday
When they got home, Jim said, "Okay, Darwin. I'm grateful that I didn't have to listen to tape recordings silly bears stuffed with fluff, but since I don't see a plush animal around here anywhere, how are we supposed to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day?"
Blair was booting up his computer. "Just a sec, while I connect to the Internet." He typed in the address bar, then hit ENTER. He stood up and gestured for Jim to take his seat. "Read this."
Jim sat, saying, "Sally read me the Winnie the Pooh stories when I was about five or six."
It was, perhaps, a good thing that Jim couldn't see Blair's smile--it was a tad evil. "Believe me, this is a whole 'nother Pooh."
Jim grunted, and bent toward the screen. "Teddybear's Picnic?" He started reading. After a moment, his mouth hung open. Then he swallowed hard. Then his eyes glazed. Finally he started laughing so hard he had to hold his sides. He shut off the computer, shaking his head, and said, "That is so wrong, on so many levels. You know what this means?"
"We're both depraved, because I thought it was funny, too?"
"It means I'll never again have to play Santa at the department's Christmas party, because if any kid sat on my lap and asked me for a Winnie the Pooh product, I'd probably pee my pants."
"Hey, turn about is fair play. If I remember correctly, one or two of them wet on you last time..."
January 19, Thursday
"Well, that was a waste of eight-fifty," said Jim, dropping his keys in the basket. "And the trailer they showed at the other movie looked so promising."
"Actually, it was a waste of around twenty-eight bucks, when you add in the trip to the concession stand. And the trailers always look good. Sometimes they take the only decent two minutes of the movie and show it to lure you in."
Jim was frowning. "Twenty-eight? If we count the concession stand, shouldn't it be thirty-six bucks?"
"Nope. We can only count the sodas and those Raisinettes you had to have. The rest wasn't a waste, because it was for the holiday. Happy National Popcorn Day."
January 20, Friday
Once again the Bull Pen was in a good mood. Ice cream, Fiddle Faddle, and nut brittle abounded. It was generally agreed that National Buttercrunch Day was a success.
January 21, Saturday
"Ribs, man, ribs!" Jim turned loose of Blair, taking a half-step back. "Damn, what's with the grizzly bear impersonation?"
"I'm just so damn glad that National Hugging Day fell on a Saturday. I'd hate to think of trying to celebrate it at the station."
January 22, Sunday
Jim had his arms crossed, staring suspiciously at the pastry sitting on a saucer before him. "C'mon," Blair coaxed. "It tastes really good."
"It's not right," said Jim.
Blair sighed. "Jim..."
"Well, it isn't natural! It should be dark and fudgy."
"Look, we don't have a cat, so we can't do Answer Your Cat's Question Day, so that means we have to go with National Blonde Brownie Day. Eat it!"
January 23, Monday
In the Bull Pen, Blair and Jim approached Megan. Jim was carrying a pen and a sheet of paper, and Blair was carrying a ruler. "Megan, can I measure your feet?"
She stared at him. "New kink, Sandy?"
"No, it's just that today we had a choice of National Handwriting Day, National Pie Day, and Measure Your Feet Day. We've done an awful lot of food holidays, with more coming up. Trying to analyze someone's handwriting can get you in trouble if you say the wrong thing..."
"He told me that my cramped style indicated repression," said Jim, "and the spikes showed barely leashed hostility."
"I slept on the couch," Blair said glumly, "So we figured that Measure Your Feet Day was the way to go. C'mon--you're the last one. Even Simon cooperated, when we promised to stop staring at him reproachfully."
"Hmph," said Megan. "Shoes, or barefooted?"
"People can buy the wrong size of shoes. Kick 'em off."
"I do that, and you're liable to get a concussion. I will toe them off, though." She did, and Blair knelt down, holding the ruler to first the right foot, then the left, showing Jim the results. Jim made careful note.
"Thanks, Megan," said Blair, standing up. "You're a good sport."
"Just a second, Sunshine. I want a look at that list."
"Okay." Jim handed the list over. "But why?"
"I have my reasons." Her eyes scanned the list, then widened, and she smiled as she handed it back.
"Don't be so mysterious," said Blair. "Are we all getting slippers sometime in the near future?"
"No, this was solely to satisfy my own curiosity. Gents, have you ever heard that old wives tale about how the size of a man's feet can relate to the size of another part of his body?"
Blair giggled, and Jim blushed a little as Megan left the room. A moment later Joel entered, looking puzzled. He couldn't understand why Jim and Blair nearly collapsed with laughter when he asked if they had any idea why Megan had winked at him in the hall.
January 24, Tuesday
Tuesday was busy. Just before lunch, Blair clapped his hands. "Attention, people! I could do a whole speech about Eskimo Pie Patent Day, since the treat was invented in 1920, had an interesting patent history, and is still in production today, but..."
"Too late for the 'but'," said Henri. "We've already gotten the speech. Where are they?"
"Freezer in the break room--where else? And they were invented by Christian Kent Nelson, and produced early on through an agreement with Russell Stover..." The others, led by Henri, were headed for the break room. Blair raised his voice, "Don't eat it so fast you get brain freeze!" He lowered his voice, "I hope."
Jim looked up from the other side of the room. "I heard that. If Henri had, you might have ended up with a wedgie, or a noogie."
"Yeah, well, he's not a Sentinel, is he?"
"You play dangerous games, Sandburg."
January 25, Wednesday
As Jim explained it, they'd decided that just the fact of he and Blair being side by side constituted a celebration of Opposite Day.
January 26, Thursday
Joel eyed Megan's desk. There was a vase of roses, a box of chocolates, and a small stuffed kangaroo cluttering the surface. He gave the already grinning woman a questioning glance. Her smile broadened, "Australia Day. Sometimes it's good to be the foreigner."
January 27, Friday
"Blair," said Joel. "Jim has left to go to the men's room at least three times in the last hour. What's wrong with him?"
"I tried to tell him that he shouldn't have the burrito combination platter at El Cantina last night. It started early this morning." Blair shrugged. "We had planned to celebrate Thomas Crapper Day by putting bows on all the johns, but it seems that Jim has come up with a more reasonable..."
January 28, Saturday
"John Jacob Jinglehiemer Schmidt," suggested Blair.
"Are you kidding? And have it stuck in my head for the next week? My Ding-a-ling," Jim countered.
"No way. I'd be laughing too hard to participate, remembering how you celebrated Ding-a-ling Day. How about Oh, Susanna?"
"That I can live with. You know, this is another holiday I'm glad fell on a Saturday, because even I'd feel silly doing this at work."
"Well, I didn't feel like fighting or banging pot lids, so Clash Day was out. And even though I've dealt with various reptiles while I was on field trips, I have no interest in celebrating Rattle Snake Round-Up Day. Ready?"
They lifted the instruments to their lips and celebrated National Kazoo Day.
January 29, Sunday
It was easy to celebrate National Cornchip Day. They just had nachos while they watched the football game.
January 30, Monday
On Monday, everyone in Major Crimes found a small bottle of cologne on their desk. "Escape? I've never heard of this one," said Megan, examining her bottle.
"Neither had I," said Jim. "But Blair swore that he remembered some girl on one of his expeditions bringing along a bottle."
"I'm not much for scents, except a little after shave," said Henri.
"Then give it to your wife--it's supposed to be unisex."
"How do I know I'll like it? Whether she wears it or I do, I'll be stuck smelling it."
Henri uncapped the bottle, then hesitated, turned, and gave Rafe a liberal spritz. "Hey!" Rafe protested. He sniffed, and his face brightened. He examined his own bottle. "I like it!"
Henri's nose was wrinkling. "It's a little strong, isn't it?"
"That's the whole point," said Blair. "Our dig was right next to a landfill. After a day there, even Lava soap wouldn't take away the smell, so she used that. If you just use a little bit, it isn't bad."
Henri watched in near horror as Rafe opened his own bottle and gave himself another spray. Jim clapped Henri on the shoulder sympathetically. "Looks like you're going to be smelling it, anyway. Happy Escape Day."
January 31, Tuesday
On Tuesday Jim, who was staking out a possible fraud location, talked a young boy into running into the shop across the street, and paid him a donut for his troubles.
Blair visited the University day care, and helped the teacher teach the kids a little more about putting away their toys.
Jim gave one of the neighbor children a ten to pick up a magazine for him, then let him keep the change.
Blair had agreed to keep a friend's little girl for a couple of hours, and he and Jim taught the delighted five year old all about dusting. The mother thanked them a little ironically 'since this being a bachelor establishment, you don't have a lot of figurines and such to worry about--like I do'.
Blair apologized and explained that since they'd already celebrated Popcorn Day they felt obliged to celebrate Child Labor Day this time. They'd donated to a charity that was fighting child labor in third world sweatshops, but they figured that they ought to do something here at home, and this was all they could think of.
February 1, Wednesday
Serpent Day meant a visit to the reptile house at the Cascade Zoo. Henri was just grateful that he didn't find a rubber snake in his desk drawer.
February 2, Thursday
Eyes were glazing over as Jim spoke. "...and as the water drips through the clean sand you've put in the cloth sack, or pair of pants, or what have you, you catch it in a container. Then you strain it again through fresh sand, preferably in a second holder, like a knapsack. Then you boil it, if you can, and it should be safe to drink. Frankly, I don't trust those purification products they sell in the survivalist magazines."
"Fascinating," drawled Megan. "They teach you a lot in the Rangers."
Joel stood up. "Actually, that's a pretty useful thing to know. If there's a natural disaster, you can't always count on being able to find safe water."
"But I could have done without it," said Henri.
"Hey," said Jim. "Just be glad I'm the one taking care of Purification Day. Blair studies ancient and obscure civilizations, and some of the purification rites he's told me about would be enough to give you nightmares."
February 3, Friday
Henri watched as Rafe bit the end of the luridly orange worm. Rafe pulled, stretching the thing till it snapped, then chewed the bite. When he noticed Henri's look, he said, "What? It's just Gummi candy. It doesn't make any difference if it's shaped like a bear, or a worm."
"Be grateful," said Joel. "They make joke plastic ice cubes with fake bugs in the middle. When I heard they were celebrating Cordoba Ice Worm Day, I was expecting that, done with worms."
February 4, Saturday
"You're sure this is going to work?" Blair asked, staring at the items on the table.
"Yeah. They did it in one of my junior high science classes. I just hope that bottle has the right sized mouth." Jim picked up the hard-boiled egg and balanced it, narrow side down, on the bottle's mouth. "Good. This is just narrow enough to keep it from slipping down." He handed the egg to Blair. "Peel that, and make sure you get all the shells on that paper towel. I'll be back in a minute."
As Jim went into the kitchen, Blair tapped the egg on the table, then carefully picked away the shell. Jim came back, carrying a box of matches. Blair showed the slippery orb to Jim. "Good. Get ready--you'll need to be quick." Jim took out three matches, closing the box. "As soon as I drop them in you've got to put that egg on the mouth exactly right. It needs to be done before any of the matches go out."
"Geez, Jim, I'm pretty sure I can handle putting an egg on top of a bottle. Go for it."
Jim lit the three matches in quick succession, dropping each down the neck of the bottle. As they burned, he said, "Now!", but it was unnecessary, as Blair was already moving.
He quickly propped the egg on top of the bottle, then stared at it. A moment passed. "Well?"
"Wait for it. The matches are almost out, then the air just needs to cool down."
The matches flickered out. They waited another couple of minutes. "I think you're pulling my chain, man. We should have..." He stopped, staring. The egg looked shorter. He bent down and looked closer. The tip of the egg, looking narrower than it had been, was almost an inch down the neck of the bottle. As he watched, the egg was slowly sucked down the neck to fall into the bottom of the bottle with a muted plop. "Well, I'll be damned."
"How do we get it back out?"
"Throw it away. I'm not about to eat a peeled boiled egg that's lain on spent matches. It's served its purpose. Happy Create a Vacuum Day, Darwin."
February 5-6, Sunday and Monday
Jim and Blair were bleary-eyed. "Bender over the weekend?" asked Simon.
"No. Yesterday was Disaster Day," said Jim. "Since we didn't have a current disaster, and we sure as hell didn't want to make one, we rented and watched Titanic, Earthquake, and Twister--all in a row."
Simon grunted. "I'm surprised you didn't have your own disaster on the way over. Now, can you explain that?" He pointed at the small figure of Donald Duck on Blair's desk. It was wearing two make-shift leg casts, and had a tiny pair of crutches made out of coffee stirrers tucked under his its arms.
"Lame Duck Day."
Simon winced. "I'm sorry I asked."
"Well, we knew that the mayor qualified, but we figured that if we did anything with her, we'd be looking for new jobs..."
February 7, Tuesday
"Look, Sandy," said Megan. "If you want to celebrate Charles Dickens Day by reading aloud, wait till you're at home to do it."
He cocked his head at her. "You don't like the classics."
"I had him stuffed down my throat in school. Besides, he's damn depressing. Starving orphans, cheated widows, poor houses, work houses, debtor's prison, cruel step-parents, children trained as criminals. Maybe the stories eventually had a happy ending, but they were bloody downers till then."
"What about A Christmas Carol?"
"You think the idea of spirits doomed to walk the earth in chains because of their greedy life is cheery holiday fare? And Tiny Tim bloody well dies in one of the versions of Christmas Yet to Come. Read it at home. Now, if it was Lewis Carrol Day, that might be different. Being around you and Ellison, I've often felt like I've fallen down the rabbit hole."
February 8, Wednesday
Simon stared at Jim. "You're doing what?"
"Going kite flying after work," Jim replied. "In the park."
"Jim, there's no wind. It's been dead calm lately."
"This is one of those bat wing kites. It's almost impossible to not get one of these up."
"There is snow on the ground."
"Look, I don't want to do it either, but it's Kite Flying Day, and Blair is willing to do it, and if he'll keep up this holiday thing, by God I'm not going to be the one who blinks first."
"I want a doctor's excuse if you catch pneumonia, or slip and crack that ankle again."
February 9, Thursday
Since no one actually had a toothache on Toothache Day (Simon grumbled that this was a miracle, considering all the junk food Jim and Blair had brought into the Bull Pen in the last eight months), everyone got a bottle of Ambusol.
February 10, Friday
On Friday, each desk held a couple of tiny, colorful paper umbrellas. "Happy Umbrella Day," said Blair. "And I'll have you know that we didn't just buy those at a liquor store. Nope, we earned them. Each one represents a Mai Tai, pina colada, or rum punch."
"But you only needed one for each of us," protested Rafe. "That would be five. There are almost a dozen here."
"Boy, was that a fun weekend. Did you know that if you get Jim drunk enough, he'll karaoke?" Rafe's eyes went wide. "Oh, shit. He's standing behind me, isn't he?"
February 11, Saturday
"This is going to be too easy," grumbled Blair. "All we have to do for White Tee-Shirt Day is both wear white Tee-shirts."
"We're not celebrating Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day," Jim said firmly. "Not in my kitchen."
"Fine." Blair sighed. "This is going to be so boring."
"Not necessarily. Suppose that all we wear is the Tee-shirts?"
Blair smiled slowly. "I think we'd better put a robe on the couch, in case one of us needs to answer the door at some point."
February 12, Sunday
"They should have had National Plum Pudding Day back in December," said Jim, staring at the dense, cakey slice on his plate. "Isn't that when they sing about plum puddings?"
"Yeah, but maybe they couldn't get on the calendar till now," said Blair. "Aren't you going to eat it?"
"I have to tell you, Sandburg--I don't see anything in there that looks anything like a plum, and it certainly doesn't look like pudding. Looks closer to fruitcake, and you know how I feel about that."
"What's in it?"
"According to the label, a couple of different kinds of raisins, currants, citron, candied peel, suet, cognac, and several spices, including pepper, are in the fruit mixture. The pudding mixture has more cognac, fresh breadcrumbs, scalded milk, sugar, sherry, and a dozen eggs. Jim, you know how when Megan says biscuit she means cookie, and when she says chips, she means fries? Well, the Brits have a different interpretation of pudding, as well. For them, pudding is just the dessert course."
"It still looks like fruitcake, and there's no plums in it."
Blair sighed. "History showed that various fruits which now go by different names were generically called plums. Hell, back in pre-Victorian England, almost any grain was commonly called corn."
"I get a history lecture with my fruit cake."
"Here." Blair poured a creamy liquid over Jim's dessert.
"Hard sauce. It's made with butter, sugar--and brandy." Jim tucked in. "Thought so."
February 13, Monday
"I'm already set," said Blair. "After all, Megan calls me Sandy. So you need something. Let me think for a minute..."
Jim sighed. "Sandburg, if I want to celebrate Get A Different Name Day, all I have to do is walk through Holding. The perps down there will give a cop a new name in a heartbeat, usually one that calls into question your relationship with your maternal ancestors."
February 14, Tuesday
The Major Crimes detectives were gathered around Jim's desk, examining the object sitting in its center. It was no more than a foot high. "Pretty elaborate," said Joel. "Expensive?"
"Not really," said Blair. "It was on sale. They do that with all the Christmas decorations after the big day. This one was so elaborate and specialized that they couldn't get rid of it, so it was cut way, way down. Besides, after we celebrate today, we're donating it to the Women and Children's Emergency Shelter for their decoration next year."
Henri nodded. "Tax deductible?"
"Maybe," said Jim. "I'm trying not to think of taxes till at least March."
Rafe was peering closely at the toy. "Those are elves and snowmen."
"And snowwomen," said Megan. "Not that I ever saw one till I moved here. It is nice."
"Wait'll I plug it in." Jim took the cord attached to the toy and plugged it in.
A tinny, carnival-flavored version of Jingle Bells started playing. The wheel on the stand began to revolve, the little cars swinging back and forth. Lights around the rim blinked on and off. Simon shook his head, saying, "Congratulations. When I heard about Ferris Wheel Day, I thought I was going to have to tell you two that you couldn't have the day off to go to a theme park."
Blair grinned at Simon. "Be grateful. If we'd celebrated the other holiday, we'd have probably driven you all crazy."
"And it is?"
"National Heart to Heart Day."
"Thank you. If I want group therapy, the force psychiatrist will be happy to make a recommendation, and with you two, I'd definitely have something to talk about."
February 15, Wednesday
"Those are not gumdrops," said Jim stubbornly. "Gum drops are fruit flavored--those are spicettes."
"I think that Spicettes is a trademark name for spice flavored gumdrops. Anyway, this was all I could find," said Blair, "Unless you really want to sneak down to Vice, steal that gingerbread house they have left over from Christmas, and pry the decorations off to celebrate National Gum Drop Day."
February 16, Thursday
Rafe looked back over his shoulder as he entered the Bull Pen. "Why is Ellison chasing Sandburg?"
Megan grinned at him. "Because Sandy just brought him a cup of coffee, and when Jim said thank you, Blair wished him a happy Do A Grouch A Favor Day."
February 17, Friday
The pet club they'd visited on Hermit Day were thrilled by the suggestion that Jim and Blair made. Champion Crab Races Day was a huge success.
February 18, Saturday
"All I'm saying," said Jim, as he laid a pack of AAA batteries on each desk in the Bull Pen, "Is that it would make much more sense to have National Battery Day right before Christmas. If I had a nickel for every present I've received that was 'batteries not included'..."
"And try finding a store open on Christmas," agreed Rafe. "So you have to wait till the day after Christmas to play with whatever it is."
"I guess some things are pretty universal," said Jim, glancing at Blair.
"Don't look at me," said Blair. "Naomi was against any toy that wasn't child-powered. She thought they killed the imagination."
Jim gave him a look. "You mean we have her to thank for your powers of obfuscation?"
Blair stood up. "I'm warning Mom not to visit till spring."
February 19, Sunday
"My York Peppermint Patty gives me the sensation of hiking through the beauties of Nature on a clear February morning, watching my breath frost in front of my face." Jim looked at Blair expectantly.
"My York Peppermint Patty reminds me that I'm glad I only went on expeditions in tropical or semi-tropical locations, because you can freeze your nuts off, sleeping in a tent during the winter," said Blair.
"I don't think you're entering into the spirit of National Chocolate Mint Day."
"Then you should have brought me Junior Mints. They remind me of the movies, not cold."
"They don't remind you of cold? You mean you've never been in a theater where they set the thermostat to 'permafrost'?"
February 20, Monday
"Oh, come on, people. Get with the program," Blair coaxed. "It's almost noon. We need more than just Jim and I doing this."
"Pass," said Henri. "What's this supposed to do, anyway?"
"Chase away bad luck for the rest of the year," said Jim. "And if I'm willing to do it--what makes you so proud?"
"I'm in," said Rafe. Henri gave him a look. "What? To quote someone-or-other, a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
"Well, for most of the last year, it hasn't been a little, and it hasn't been every now and then."
"That's Rafe," said Blair. "Joel?"
Joel smiled. "What the hell."
"I will if Henri will," she replied. Henri looked stubborn. "You owe me, even if you don't know it. I'm the one who suggested your Valentine's Day present to your wife."
Henri blinked. "All right. That was worth one moment of looking foolish."
"It's almost time," said Blair.
"Is Simon out of the office?" asked Jim. "I'll be able to do this with much less danger to my blood pressure if he is."
"He's at lunch," said Blair, who was examining his watch. "Get ready, everyone. Countdown. Five, four, three, two, one..."
Everyone in the Bull Pen yelled, "Hoodie Hoo!" at the same time.
There was a moment of complete silence, then a voice from the hall said, "What the hell was that?"
Henri groaned. "Simon!"
Blair was wincing. "Worse."
"What could be worse than having our boss hear us making fools of ourselves?"
"That," said Jim morosely, "Is Wanamaker, from Vice." He gave Blair a baleful look. "Happy Hoodie Hoo Day, genius."
Blair sighed, "Man, is it ever Monday."
February 21, Tuesday
Joel picked up the postcard with the picture of a sandy beach, examining the back. "Wish we were ALL here. Ellison. I can get behind that."
"Mine has a jackalope on it," said Megan.
"A what?" said Rafe.
"Mythical wester creature, supposed to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope." She turned it over. "I think these must not be native to Texas, because I'm pretty sure I ate one in a stew on one of my expeditions. Sandburg."
Rafe was snickering. "Mine shows a cartoon miner, and says, She got the gold mine--I got the shaft. I'm betting this one is from you, Ellison."
Jim held a finger to his lips. "Don't tell Carolyn."
"I don't hate you that much."
Henri was peering at a night view of the Vegas Strip. "I think I see Elvis down there."
"You're imagining things," said Megan.
"No, he isn't," said Blair. "Read the back."
Henri turned it over. "He performs ceremonies at the Graceland Wedding Chapel. Uh-huh-huh. Sandburg." Henri shook his head. "You'd have to be either seriously weird, or very, very drunk."
"You think either of those are in scarce supply in Vegas? Happy Card Reading Day."
"And you can all be grateful that I wouldn't let Blair do what he wanted to for this day," said Jim.
"I'm scared to ask," said Rafe.
"Naomi taught him to read Tarot cards. Would you really want Sandburg predicting your future?"
February 22, Wednesday
"Oh, Lord--it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way. I can't wait to look in the mirror. I get better lookin' each day. To know me is to love me. I must be a hell of a man. Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble, but I'm doin' the best that I can."
Blair punched OFF on the tape recorder. "Bobby Bare is without a doubt a genius. He's done some of the funniest stuff I've heard since Shel Silverstien. But is it appropriate? After all, this is Be Humble Day."
"Let's have a little relationship honesty here, Sandburg," said Jim. "Neither one of us is good at that."
Blair considered this for a moment, then said, "Can I listen to She's Doing Quaaludes Again next?"
February 23, Thursday
Nelson the Peke received boxes of Milk Bones, Alpo Snaps, and Purina One Biscuits for International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. Mrs. Logan said that he was going to be impossible to live with after all the attention, and that Jim and Blair spoiled him worse than she spoiled her grandchildren. Blair informed her that they had to give them to Nelson, since both he and Jim were pretty sure that neither one of them could really appreciate a good dog biscuit.
February 24, Friday
Simon walked into the break room, sniffing. "Why does it smell like hot corn in here? Is it another popcorn holiday?"
"Nope," said Jim. "National Tortilla Chip Day." He held out a plate. "Nachos? The right side of the plate is no peppers. Better get it now, because Henri has threatened to come back and clean up the rest of these."
February 25, Saturday
At the police firing range, Jim handed Blair a pair of ear mufflers. "C'mon,, Darwin."
"I've told you before--I hate guns," Blair complained. "You do it."
"I do it on a regular basis. Just six rounds."
"C'mon. It's a Defender--I borrowed it from a friend in the SWAT division."
"Two. I don't want to do this at all."
Blair put on the earmuffs, and the protective glasses. "Fuck it." He took the gun, squinted at the target at the other end of the room, and rapidly fired three times. The force knocked him back a couple of steps. He quickly laid the gun down again.
Jim zeroed in on the target, not waiting to have it run back up to them. "I think you actually nicked the target with that last one."
"Damn, that kicks."
"Just be happy I didn't ask him for his Anaconda, or Python. Happy Pistol Patent Day." Jim picked up the gun and examined it, then sighed. "I guess the police can thank Samuel Colt for a lot, but the rest of the world might not."
February 26, Sunday
Blair knocked on the bathroom door. "Jim? You okay in there?"
sound of retching Blair knocked harder. "Lemme in man. I've seen you upchuck before. If you need help..."
"I don't need help." Jim's voice was a little choked. "I think I've gotten rid of all of it. In fact, I think I've gotten rid of everything I ate yesterday, too." Jim came out, wiping his pale face with a damp rag.
"I am so sorry. One of my students gave me a tin of an assortment of pistachios for New Years. Nut brittle made with pistachios seemed like such a good idea. I had no clue that I'd accidentally grabbed the chili flavored ones. Don't be sore."
Jim leaned weakly against the wall. "The only thing that's sore are my sides. I'm a Sentinel--I should have smelled the spices before I bit into it."
"Well, you have been kind of stuffed up in the sinus department lately."
Jim honked into the rag. "Not any more, I'm not. That's one good thing about it. Happy National Pistachio Day."
February 27, Monday
"International Polar Bear Day?" said Henri. "Okay, how do you intend to celebrate that? There isn't going to be some sort of weird mystery meat casserole for lunch is there?"
Megan grinned at Sandburg. "Maybe they'll hand out Polar Bear hugs."
"We're going to the zoo after work," said Jim.
"And watch the polar bears. Not much of a celebration," said Joel.
"Not just watch, man," said Blair. "We have a gift for them." He went to the closet, and returned, cradling a rubber ball about the size of a beach ball. "It's an exercise ball. The bears love to play with them. It's a real hoot to watch them when they get one in the water." Henri opened his mouth. "And yes, I got permission. Usually they just take donations, but I had a talk with the head zookeeper, and showed him exactly what it was we wanted to give them. He approved it as not only safe, but fun."
Jim pulled a small camcorder out of his desk drawer. "And the day will be recorded for posterity. If I'm lucky, I'll get some footage I can send to America's Funniest Home Videos, or Animal Planet's Funniest Animals. The prize money will help offset what this holiday thing has cost me."
Blair was shaking his head. "Capitalist."
"You do know that William Ellison is my father, right?"
February 28, Tuesday
Jim was alone in the Bull Pen, doing paper work, when Megan came in. "Ellison," she elbowed him. "I just came across Sandy curled up in a sleeping bag in the break room. Have you been wearing him out at night--wink, wink, nudge, nudge, you dog."
"It's Public Sleeping Day," Jim replied.
"Oh." Megan went to her desk.
"Megan?" She looked up. Jim's smile was wicked. "I didn't deny the 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge', did I?"
February 29, Wednesday
In an elegant restaurant, Blair pushed his empty plate away with a replete sigh. "I am stuffed to the gills."
Jim indicated the denuded beef bone and empty lobster shell on his plate. "I told you that you shouldn't have had the stuffed baked potato, too. This place is expensive, but the portions are big."
"No joke. How was the shrimp?"
"Great. The chef here knows how to do it without over cooking them, and the prime rib was perfect, too--just rare enough to be good and juicy."
"I'm glad the month is ending with National Surf and Turf Day. This feels like a real celebration."
"It is. We've survived three entire seasons of holiday madness. The pace is wearying. I'm surprised that neither of us needs either a long vacation, ulcer treatment, or therapy."
"Yeah." There was a moment of silence. "Are you ready to give it up?"
"Well," Jim drawled. "We've come this far. There are only three months left."
"Just ninety-two days."
"We could finish it--come full circle."
Blair's eyes gleamed as he smiled slowly. "I was hoping you'd say that."
Notes: Okay, I like to occasionally self-reference other Sentinel stories I've written. ^From We're All Susceptible--UNION CITY BLUE, ^^From Why You Shouldn't Argue About the Holidays The story mentioned on Winnie the Pooh Day can be found here http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/scribescribbles/picnic.htm
Heed the warnings. :) And yes, February 29--I'm making it a Leap Year, okay?