Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Season's Greetings, Birthday Boy

I don’t think I’m divulging secrets impacting national security when I say I ain’t the world’s most warm-hearted guy.
Nope, not a whole lot of humanitarian awards looming on my horizon.
Outside of Christmas, the only reason I even give a leap about holidays is that they get me a day off. And those, like Columbus Day or Veterans Day, that don’t include an off day could be flushed as far as I care.
I haven’t handed my wife a Valentine’s Day card in forever, I’m not a big booster when it comes to anniversaries and weddings, and anyone who hands me their baby pictures (the only reason the word “cute” even exists) is going to have their feelings hurt.
The only reason I tolerate birthdays is that my mother could kick God’s ass when it comes to baking to-die-for cakes and I’ve gotten a decent present or two in my many years.
In other words, to me, warm and fuzzy means climbing under the covers unshaven.
I do have an Achilles heel, however, and my heartstrings, such as they are, can be tugged. I’m a sucker for my kids.
That doesn’t mean they’re not major pains in the ass most of the time, but they’ll get away with much more crap than anybody else on the planet and even, on very rare occasions, bring a tear to my eye.
So when my son went back to college recently, I had a rare brainstorm – I’ll send him a greeting card. You know, something light that might bring a smile to his face as he prepares for the paper chase, an employment opportunity that doesn’t exist and a world that’s more likely to kick him in the balls than welcome him with open arms.
What an eye-opening fiasco that turned out to be.
There was a time, before this greedy maggot of a planet jaded me beyond repair, that I would actually send greeting cards to people. Girlfriends, my parents, even the odd fellow worker could open an envelope and read the perfunctory Hallmark drivel and my chicken-scratch of a signature.
I don’t even believe I’m stretching belief when I say that I actually enjoyed hunting for just the right card with just the right sentiment.
Ahhh, those were the days.
Unfortunately, as I’ve come to realize in my advancing years, those sugar-coated days are a million miles ahead of anything offered up today.
Today, if you shop for cards, they had better be for an event that’s already proven to be popular, or you’d be best served joining the hunt for the Holy Grail.
Started at Acme, moved on to Hallmark and even, in desperation, tried one of those ridiculous high-falutin’ stationery stores that sells writing paper and cards at fifty bucks a pop because they’re printed on the fancy-schmancy, onion-skin paper we used to use for typing. Isn’t it moronic, don’t ya think?
If it had been my son’s birthday, or Christmas, or Halloween, or if he had just gotten married, sick or pregnant, I’d have been golden. As it was, I was SOL.
I don’t think there are as many black-hearted CEOs as there are types of birthday cards, and I had no idea there were so many occasions that demanded them. Just a brief scan of one rack revealed birthdays cards for the young, the old, milestones (I’m guessing they’re for the birthday boy that just hit his 500th homer), funny cards, romantic cards, holiday birthdays (yeah, I’ll bet those are really in demand) and I actually think I saw a birthday card for a pet.
But beyond that, today’s makers of cards, apparently, don’t acknowledge that folks occasionally buy cards for the hell of it, or to convey greetings, or maybe just to elicit a needed smile.
Nope, if it ain’t your birthday or a holiday, Buckaroo, you’re not gettin’ no greeting card.
It wasn’t always like that. I used to find cards that were funny, thought-provoking and even sad. I’ve sent cards that had nothing to do with anything, that just let whoever it was know I was thinking of them – good or bad.
And what’s with these blank cards? If I wanted to write out my sentiment, I’d send a letter.
Of course, this is just one more example of how this world is now run by bean counters instead of people who have worked in a particular field their entire lives. People who have sold or sent greeting cards in their lifetimes know that cards should be for all occasions. Variety is a plus and cards are not just for those occasions that sales figures show will sell the most units.
I can hear the law being laid down at American Greetings: “Our numbers show that 55 percent of cards sold are for birthdays, 40 percent are for holidays and the rest are get-well cards. We’re not going to manufacture the others, they’re not moving product.”
So now, folks, if you want to send a card you’re limited to just two emotions – happiness and sympathy. If you wish to convey any other I suggest you text, or better yet, keep your damned emotions to yourself.
As for my son’s card, he was thrilled to death that Spider-Man had wished him a happy seventh birthday.


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