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Kitsch and class bump heads in the kitchen

Middle-aged matilda is out the door, and the French impressionists are in the kitchen. It's my husband's year to choose the calendar.

Nowhere is the cultural gap in our marriage more gaping than in our choice of calendars. I go for chimps in three-piece suits who say silly things each month about their bosses. My husband goes for Monet - a different waterlily each month.

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My motto: If I have to face income taxes in April, let me be reminded by a cat dressed as George Washington crossing the Delaware. My husband's motto: If I have to face income taxes in April, let me torture the family all month long with a bleak painting by Goya.

Every other year when Mr. Culture torments the family for at least 365 days running, I long for the years BC - Before Calendars were issued by every interest group in the country.

In the good old days, businesses handed you a no-nonsense calendar with a picture of an old water mill glued to the top. Every kitchen wall in the country sported the same mill. Only the business's name changed.

When I was a kid, Mom's calendars were printed on dishtowels with the same old mill picture. She still dries her hands on 1963.

Then one year, everybody - joggers, left-handers, cat lovers, cat haters, African-violet enthusiasts, women in itty-bitty swimsuits and bachelor farmers on big tractors started telling us that 30 days hath September.

As hideous as it's going to be in 1999 living with monthly art attacks, there have been worse years. For example, 1995 was a very bad year. That's when Mr. Enlightenment tortured us with an obscure word-a-day calendar.

"Is this Tuesday or Wednesday?" our daughter made the mistake of asking early that year.

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"I thought you'd never ask," he said. "It's 'fuliginous.' "

By Jan. 10, we quit caring what day it was.

Every other year, I try to steer the guy to a calendar that is more to my taste.

"Look at this sinfully rich dessert-of-the-month calendar. Here's a recipe for strawberry puffs for July and grandma's cherry tartlets for August," I drooled as he searched the racks for 1999s.

I quickly cited the merits of other calendars: dazed Dilbert in his cubicle, sticky moments in peanut-butter history, money-making tips from the millionaire next door, or even classic pickups.

Then he spied the French impressionists and the chance to sneak some culture into the kitchen.

It's a pity that he can't lighten up in 1999, but at least my day's coming. In 2000.

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