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Sat, Feb. 22

One Man's Rant: My greetings aren’t from Hallmark

One of the most consistent joys I’ve experienced over the years has been insulting folks I know and love. I’m talking about my selection of sentiments in birthday cards, greeting cards and staying-in-touch cards, of course. As far as I’m concerned, why offer up weak-kneed platitudes of good wishes when a perfectly solid insult can be launched with the satisfying click of a computer keyboard stroke? That only became possible when greeting card design software appeared on the market a few years ago. From that day on, I’ve conducted a campaign against politically correct greetings. We’re suffering too much political correctness in our national politics — we certainly don’t need more in our greeting cards!

The very first holiday card I made was in the 1970s. Since card design software wasn’t around then, I produced this special number in the darkroom. It featured a seasonally appropriate log cabin scene in the forest with plenty of snow for effect and smoke curling out of the chimney. Oh, the card also contained a sizable photo portrait of an orangutan. One might argue that orangutans don’t normally celebrate Christmas, but he did have a festive look on his face. I think the tagline was something like, “I hope you have a very hairy Christmas.”

In my always-humble opinion, the greeting card aisle at the drugstore is often the most boring aisle in the place. Namby-pamby greeting card sentiments simply don’t get the job done in modern-day Chino Valley — or anywhere else in this fair country. I think it’s much more fulfilling to make fun of someone’s age, habits or style than it is just to wish someone a happy whatever.

My wife and I were just invited to a 70th birthday celebration. It never occurred to me to visit aisle three at Walgreens to find a card that pleasantly said “Best Wishes on your 70th trot around the globe.” How boring would that be? A simple request to Party Boy’s wife brought forth photos that could be used to fuel a couple of disrespectful birthday sentiments straight off my Dell computer and EPSON printer production line.

During these many years that I’ve been creating my own cards, there are certain sappy words and phrases that have never appeared in my versions of a Hallmark moment. Those words and phrases would include such a saccharin specimen as, “Wishing you a joyous celebration that will last all year long.”

Oh, please! I would prefer to give the person who is aging before our very eyes some urgent advice such as, “Hey, it’s your birthday. Get off your buns and do something (sinful) (outrageous) (illegal) (unflattering) while you still can! I would suggest scheduling something by early Thursday afternoon!”

Another pitiful bit of pap in a normal birthday card is something like, “Another year older, and you just keep getting stronger, wiser, funnier and more amazing!” Well, Clyde, Look in the mirror. Do your new wrinkles feel stronger, wiser, funnier and more amazing than last year? Mine don’t, either!

Personally, I think the people who write bland fortunes for Chinese fortune cookies in the restaurants are the same ones who write the bland greeting cards on aisle three in the drug stores. These faceless people obviously aren’t getting nearly enough fiber in their diets.

I think it’s time that greeting card manufacturers stop with the Mary Poppins attitude and start providing pithy wishes we can all sink our dentures into.

So, here’s hoping you have a wonderfully special year. With sprinkles. And splinters.

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