I know there are many troubled areas in the world today. Famine, pestilence, spotty internet connection. But the one place on earth where there is more anxiety, more tension and more potential for stroke is the mother’s day greeting card aisle on mother’s day.
Trust me, if you’re taking any of those medicines you see advertised on TV that may have a side effect that could include swollen ears, genital warts or death avoid the greeting card aisle on mother’s day. They should just put an crash cart on both ends of the aisle because I’ve been there, someone’s going down.
Lest you believe this is some kind of personal thing with me, let me straighten you little pricks out right now. I’m there solely as an observer. My Mother died before some of you were born. You could say I’m the spawn of a puddle of jizz and a book of dirty limericks (tomorrow, by the way, is National Limerick Day). So I get to be detached as these brave men and women slowly lose their shit.
I watch them paw at the mishmash of cards that are left. They’ve waited until the last minute because of the dread. Standing at the rack, truck stop posies in one hand, flop sweat on their lips, they scan the rack for a card that has the right tint of sentimentality but not enough to make her think you’ve gone soft. Some of the cards, after being dissected for the last two weeks, are actually sweat stained.
The collective wheezing you find in this aisle fills the air with the harmony of an air compressor. The rhythmic beating of their hearts at levels usually only seen during The Boston Marathon causes light headedness. I’ve been known to toss in packs of sugar in my feeble attempt to keep these people alive.
The worst part about this ordeal is it’s been building in them for an untold amount of time. Some of them are frantic because they ‘just remembered’ it’s mother’s day after working hard to avoid the topic all week. Others have been playing this scene over and over in their head since last mother’s day. Some have spent the week calmly, rationally having internal dialogues trying to convince themselves this year won’t be like the last dozen.
But those people are delusional. They’re still going to stand in front of a rack that looks as if it’s perched in tornado alley grasping at words written by a person who is paid by the word to come up with this deck they not only don’t believe it’s something they’d never say to their own mother’s. I know. I’ve been paid to write mother’s day cards. How scary is that? I could have been the only person standing between you and your mother’s disdainful glare.
But they come. Year after gut wrenching year to find the words that are so right, yet so vague, to have her keep you in the will but not make her think you want to take a trip to Vegas with. The worst part is, after all the time spent in there, and I’ve stood there observing for more than a half an hour while my girlfriend struggles, they’re never satisfied with their choice. They end up standing at the cash register like it’s the green mile. Marchers in Bataan had better outlooks.
They stand there mulling the choice they’ve made. They read it and check the flower on the front for missing sparkles (because you know she’ll notice a bald patch of sparkles) and push themselves closer to the brink. I get to read some of these cards while standing free and easy in line. My favorite card has to be the one that began with the lovely sentiment, “I know we haven’t always gotten along. . .”
Where the fuck is that going?
“. . .but thanks for not aborting me.”
“. . .so let’s keep that going, shall we?”
“. . .but lately the homicidal urges have passed.”
But I do witness something while standing there amidst the sweaty, sullen, shaky messes. To a person, no matter what is actually said in the cards, they actually put the time and effort into getting a mother’s day card that represents the best of what their jumbled, tumbled and rumbled minds can conjure.
For whatever reason they just can’t walk in, pick a card say ‘good enough.’ and leave. There are decades of expectations, recriminations, but also good times and lasting fond memories that makes them spend this day pushing themselves closer to the grave.
Just so they maybe possibly don’t let their mother’s down.
To the card buyers I’ll say, chill. If you have to work yourself into a cardiac episode it’s not worth it. You’re never gonna get the response you’re looking for. So convince yourself you’ve found it and move on. Pick out the first card you think works and move on. The truth is she most likely has ever mother’s day card you’ve ever given her. That’s not a bad track record.
To the card receivers I’ll say, chill. Sure the kid’s a fuck up and a major disappointment but that’s just your perception. Possibly forged by situations out of your kids control. The card might not be perfect but, trust me, a ton of blood, sweat and years off their life have gone into pick those shitty, dumb ass cards. Because, after all, all they’re trying to say is Happy Mother’s Day.