GateHouse — If there is any place on Earth more bruisingly depressing than the Valentine’s Day card rack at Target on Feb. 12, I’ve yet to hear about it. OK, that’s not entirely true, I can think of plenty more depressing places, such as the offices of whoever has to do promotion for the “Chipmunks” movies and wherever Newt Gingrich goes to apply his pre-stump speech neck-grease, but at least the people shopping at Target have their own non-billionaire-provided money, now that I think about it, so I think Gingrich wins for most depressing? Winning! Aw, that’ll be a weird feeling for him.
What am I doing here on Feb. 12, you may ask, judgingly? Well, usually I’m like weeks ahead of the Valentine’s situation, because I’m really super-thoughtful at all times, except this year, when I’m scraping together a Valentine plan with two kids, which is making the card selection process a lot more enjoyable and family-oriented and part of a bonding ha oh I’m just kidding it’s a miserable nightmare please tell me someone stashed burlap sacks full of painkillers in the “Get Well Soon” section or something.
But it’s not a nightmare because of the kids, who are being great, except the one who keeps drooling on my face. No, it’s a nightmare because of the desperate surfeit of miserable greeting card manufacturers.
For instance, since I’m here picking out cards from the kids I suppose the one at 8-year-old eye-level with the giant crimson words RIGOROUS SEX on the front is out, although not until after I explain to my curious son what rigorous means! Gosh I hope this place doesn’t sell those filthy hip-hop records!
Also out: the card that plays the Mexican Hat Dance when you open it, although I’m keeping it mind for any point in the future in which I’m wooing a puppet jalapeño.
Also out: the one that plays what might be “Who Let The Dogs Out” but it’s hard to tell because this version of “Who Let The Dogs Out” as performed through a speaker the size of a watch battery which makes it sound like it’s coming out of a 1979 CB radio set to “MURDEROUS DEATH-STATIC.”
Also out: Anything from the cottage industry that’s popped up around the creation of Valentine’s Cards With Taylor Swift On Them, for anyone who thought America couldn’t create jobs anyway, suck it, Clint Eastwood.
Also out: Whatever the person next to me is opening, an object that emits a blood-curdling hell-shriek EVERY SINGLE TIME SHE OPENS IT, which is six and counting, because maybe the words inside magically change into a new thoughtful tone poem every time she does so?
I don’t even know what I’m doing here. Many years ago we enacted a policy in the house called Cards Are Dumb. It’s called that because cards are dumb, and because we’ve never really spent a lot of time naming our house policies, obviously. Cards are dumb for people but genius for marketing, because they’re objects you are required to purchase, objects that have zero value and have to be replaced every time something important comes up. Cards were dumb when they cost $1.49 (in 1987), but now that they are $7.99 a pop and come in plastic Pepperidge Farm-bread wrappers and perform songs by LMFAO they SORT OF INSANE, YET LOOK AT US ALL HERE AT TARGET. (Because no matter how many times you say “We’re not doing anything this year, right?” you are totally doing something this year, else you come off as a heartless gorilla, or, uh, whatever the female equivalent of a gorilla is, unless there are female gorillas? Someone help me out with this).
The good news: A few minutes of searching later, we were right out of there, home to create a few actual presents of hopefully some increased degree of thoughtfulness, but not after a clandestine replacing of all the RIGOROUS SEX cards behind something in the “Pet Condolences” section.