Saturday, April 3, 2010

When Greeting Cards Go Bad

 While shopping for a birthday card a few days ago, I was struck by the fact that greeting cards have gone downhill. I actually saw a sympathy card for someone who has recently entered menopause. Does that necessitate a card? I understand that when you’re entire business is dependent upon “special events” your bottom line is dramatically affected by both the number of special events and the thoughtfulness of your customers. Since we can all agree that thoughtfulness has taken some serious hits lately I suppose their only recourse is to make more events “special.” Judging by the following real cards, this strategy has reached its breaking point:
 For Those Struggling with Cancer
Front:   Chemo Sucks.
Inside:  But If It Sucks the Cancer Right out of You, Then “YAY, chemo!”

I really like the way the card’s author leaves that “IF” hanging out there like a mortality rate statistic to prevent too much hope from infiltrating your day. Perhaps it is overly optimistic, but couldn’t they at least substitute the word “when?” After all I didn’t pay $3.50 for a dose of reality, I can get that for free…..

For Those Who Have Recently Undergone Breast Augmentation

Font:  Congratulations on the Twins!
Inside:  They make a good addition to the family.

It is important to remain acutely aware of the context in which you give this card.

From Spouse = Inside Joke
From Best Friend = Humorous
From Plastic Surgeon = Self-Congratulatory / Semi-Creepy
From Male Coworker = Lawsuit
From Pool Boy = Divorce
From Mailman = Window Blinds

Father’s Parole

Front:  I know that prison has been really hard
            That’s why I wanted to send you this card
             Just remember that you are never too old,
             To hope and pray for an early parole!
Inside:  Blank

I think that we can all agree that nothing lights up the faces of cell block C like parole-themed poetry. While I don’t doubt that many children suffer the misfortune of seeing their fathers languish in correctional facilities during their formative years, I felt that this card was missing something. The vendor allows you to personalize the inside so here is my best shot:

I know that your situation currently appears dismal
Perhaps this carton of menthols could prove useful
In preventing an unwelcome shiv to your abdominal
Always remain alert while in the exercise yard
Lest Poncho & Big Rick catch you off-guard
And assist your skull in becoming fractured

Death of a Guinea Pig

Front:  So Sorry
Inside:  So sorry for the loss of your Guinea Pig
              May he find peace in the garden of love

I got nothing.

Your Babysitter’s Birthday

Front:  Happy Birthday Babysitter!
Inside:  For your special day-
                 A little coffee
                 A piece of cake
                 A few candles
                 A mug of beer
                 A little kiss
                 A huge hug...

                  Pick one.
            Times are tough.
            Happy Birthday!

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. If you are willing to overlook the awkward concept of purchasing a personalized birthday card for your babysitter, I suppose it begins innocently enough, but abruptly turns disconcerting when alcohol is offered as a gift. This exponentially more troubling when one takes into consideration that many babysitters are underage girls attempting to earn some disposable income and the offer of alcohol is immediately followed by offers of physical contact. With that in mind let us take the list to its logical conclusion shall we?

                 A few candles
                 A mug of beer
                 A little kiss
                 A huge hug
                 An awkward moment
                 A few more beers
                 A parking lot
                 A criminal charge
                 A plea bargain
                 A sexual predator database
                 A Dateline special

Divorce Announcement

Front:  Divorce is Final!
Inside: We are no longer together!

Perhaps I am old fashioned, but I was unaware that couples traditionally announced the collapse of their marriage by sending cards to their acquaintances. The use of the word “we” seems to indicate the troubled couple was at least able to come to a consensus on the card design, which is somewhat ironic. I am also troubled by the superfluous use of exclamation points in the card. This type of trend could be dangerous if it spreads to more somber departments:

Sympathy –  I hated to hear about your mom’s place crash!
                          My condolences on contracting Ebola!
                          You must be overcome by depression and self-loathing!
Apology –     Sorry that I stabbed you in the Chili’s parking lot!
                         I deeply regret framing you for arson!
                         I feel terrible for embezzling your pension!

Terminations –    You have become incompatible with your current position!
                                  We feel that financial compensation has been negatively affecting your creativity!
                                  We are disappointed in our lack of desire for your continued employment!

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