I’ve done a lot in my forty-two years here on this planet. Well, the first twenty-two were fairly useless. I pretty much just partied and made an ass out of myself alongside my fraternity brothers, but the next twenty that followed? I helped countless couples fall in love, welcomed their children into the world, comforted people in their hour of need, let people who weren’t feeling well know that everyone was rooting for them, and attended practically every birthday party on the planet. I made people laugh, I made them cry, I made them rethink their life choices, and I did it all with greeting cards.
I used to think that you had to publish a novel in order to call yourself a real writer, but people in the greeting card business are the real wordsmiths of the world. I mean, how challenging is it to churn out one measly book a year compared to spitting out greeting card after greeting card week after week, month after month, year after year? Suck it up Dean Koontz!
Anyway, as prolific as I’ve been over the years, I have to also own up to the fact that there was a long period in my career where my writing was rather schlocky; from the ages of twenty-two to forty-one to be exact. You’re the best Mom in the world, you’re the best husband in the world, sorry for the loss of your parent, good luck on your new job…blah, blah, blah. The more generic you keep the sentiment, the more people the card will appeal to, and that’s what my company liked. But then last year something in me snapped. My wife had recently left me, taking the kids with her, and all I had to look forward to were lonely nights in my dumpy two bedroom apartment. There aren’t enough sappy greeting cards in the world to fix that, and sending me one thinking it can will just add to my bitterness.
Bitterness is exactly what consumed me during the months that followed the end of my marriage, and it showed in my work. I started writing things like, ‘A few years from now there’s a good chance we’ll be divorced and broke just like the schmuck who wrote this, but until then, Happy Valentine’s Day!’ And ‘Thanks for remembering to feed me three times a day when I was growing up. Happy Mother’s Day!’ And ‘Remember how excited you were when you started your last job? The one that turned into a soul sucking experience? Here’s hoping your new one doesn’t!’
Fortunately my boss was going through his own nasty divorce at the time, so he gave the green light to my less than cheery greeting cards. They were a hit, too; which, depending upon how you look at it is either a good thing (Hurrah, I still have a job!) or incredibly sad, on account of there being a huge volume of people who share my bleak views.
I don’t have the energy to put too much thought into it, though. I have another support payment that’s due in two weeks so I need to get writing. I’ll see you in the greeting card aisle. My work will be easy to spot. It’ll be the card that reminds of your many failings in life.