I don’t want everyone (or at least the four or five folks who actually read my blog) thinking I’m really deep or profound all the time. I am easily amused observing trivial little ironies at some of the most mundane things; unfortunately at the expense of random folks forced to deal with me at those moments. Witness the following, an example of me in shallow, self-absorbed mode.
Those who know me know that I rarely set foot in a card store. I have what I thought was an endless supply of blank card stock – you know, the kind with an innocuous design on the outside and completely blank on the inside. I’ve used these for years to send personal handwritten notes to everyone I know for any and all occasions. Small problem – the endless supply ran out and my son’s birthday is coming up next week, so I thought I’d drop in the local card store at lunch to pick up a birthday card. As soon as I arrive I am greeted by a really perky, friendly store associate. Her name is Meg and she asks me what am I looking for. I tell her I am looking for a birthday card. Simple question, simple answer.
Meg then asks me, “What kind of birthday card are you looking for?”
“Huh? Um… how about one that says Happy Birthday?”
“They all say that. Well, actually some don’t. What I meant is, who is the card for?”
“Oh. My son.”
“Over here. Follow me.”
Criminy! We walk past a gauntlet of hundreds upon hundreds of specialty cards designed to be sent by cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, in-laws, out-laws, current lovers, clandestine lovers, and prison cell-mates. Finally we arrive at the section labeled “Son” – right next to the Son-in-law section and just above the Juvenile Son section. I guess it’s a rather slow day in the card store, because Meg is hanging around, watching me as I look over the cards. Or maybe she’s just worried I’ll run off with a bunch of birthday cards and sell them out of the trunk of my car. I hear the “To my Secretary/Mistress on her Birthday” is a real high demand item.
The very first card I grab says, “To Son on his Birthday.” I can’t help but notice Meg hovering over me while I’m smiling a bit, shaking my head with disbelief at the card.
“Is there something wrong?” she asks.
I can feel the devilish temptation to be snarky coming on. (Don’t do it, you’ll feel bad about it later. Must resist! Must not say something snarky. Must not… … … dammit!) I can’t help myself.
“You know Meg, I’m pretty sure my son knows it’s his birthday, and that’s why we’re sending him a card. He’s in college you see. Yes, smart kid. And I am totally convinced he knows he’s our son. Why, just last week he asked me for money – again. I’d say he’s got the son thing down pat. So I’m not sure we need a card that tells him who he is and why we’re sending it.”
She offers a smile. “Nothing wrong with being crystal clear.”
“I suppose so, but tell me, who is this on the cover of the card?”
“Oh, it’s just a picture of a young man – fishing.”
“But the young man in the picture is not my son. And my real son doesn’t fish. Why would I send my son a card that says, ‘To Son on his Birthday’ with a picture of a strange young man doing something my son doesn’t do?” Actually I’m starting to get confused myself.
She offers, “Well, if you don’t want that card, we’ve got plenty more right here. What are you looking for?”
“How about one that says Happy Birthday?”
Meg is no longer smiling, and I feel a bit guilty about my snarkiness. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a smart-ass. Let me look through these and I’ll try to find one on my own.” I start to go through the assorted cards. Sheesh! What a collection!
- Son, we are so proud of you on your Birthday. (What, no one is proud on the other 364 days?)
- What is a Son? (Are you kidding me?)
- For a Special Son. (I feel sorry for all those regular sons.)
Finally! A card that just says Happy Birthday on the outside. I pick it up and open it to read what is written on the inside.
“Do you have blank cards?”
“On the side wall.”
Thankfully, I found a nice collection of blank card stock – you know, the kind with the innocuous design on the outside and completely blank on the inside. As I approach the register to pay, a very nice, perky store manager asks me if I’d like to buy some Halloween cards.
“Er… um… People send out cards for Halloween???”
I could see Meg out of the corner of my eye bolting for the back of the store. I guess it must have been time for her work break.