Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Friend Like Who?

We've got it all wrong in the "greeting card" isle.

Wall after non-virtual wall in bookstores, pharmacies and bargain stores, blatantly profess' our only two options: Holidays & Occasions. The subsections go into listing of all religious and some pagan Holidays, including the commercialized-to-insanity Valentine's Day and the obscure Veteran's day (not kidding, it's posted on one of the major sites). Veteran's Day was yesterday, how many cards did you hand out? I thought so. Me too.

Then comes Occasions, with Birthdays, Anniversaries, Bridal Showers, Weddings, Babies, Congrats... For the most part, every single time I got one of these, they left me like a dead ECG, flatlining. When an occasion itself is joyous, what is the point of spending the time and money rummaging through the options, wrinkling the envelopes (I know who you are!), only to convey "Ditto"? Those happy days, I would much rather read an abbreviated text message, letting me know they know... Then, real people will get together to celebrate in real time. What about the mind-numbingly designed Sympathy category? Give me a hug instead. Please. If you can't say it yourself, say nothing. Silence is always more comforting than some dreadful brown flower and a convoluted font in stylish, burgundy.

When did we forget how to be real? How often is that card as meaningful as an unedited thought you would blurb to yourself? Calling it exactly like it is, brings relief. And relief matters most!

This week, a lot of my friends and colleagues went through the discomfort of being downsized. This is North America... it happens every day to someone. Still, there is no card for it. In the career section, there is allotted space only for Promotions and Retirements. As much as it sucks hearing those news, re-evaluating what went wrong as you hug that box with your desk belongings, looking down on your way out, likely calculating the next mortgage payment or rent... there is no "comfort" that a team of creative geniuses thought was worth the effort. Or ink. Career counsellors will tomorrow point out that this is now a fresh chance to evaluate what feels more like playing rather than working, taking into consideration ALL your strengths... But where is my card, dammit?

 My personal favourite: the BRIDE franchise! The "Princess-for-a-Day" hoax!
I confess, despite my fabulously rich track record of "I do's" I never had a Bridal shower. Excuses in chronological order include: It wasn't a custom in my home country / Sherif in Illinois was not up to it / There was literally no time between a mikvah and a chuppah. That's kind of a funny story for another time... Still, no regrets.

What I do regret however, was not having a marriage break-up shower, when my 'starter' spouse got mate-poached, leaving 10 days before I gave birth to our first baby. That's when I wanted my BFFs and Gal Pals, sisters, wise aunts and mouthy neighbours, to all crowd in around me, loud, opinionated and insightful, gifts and treats in hand so we can reset my profound sense of dumb-founded-ness, fear and shame. Have a swear fest (Serbians are big on swearing) until my water breaks...

I had enough! Today, me @FriendLikeMe, is inventing a brand new category named "Calling it like it is". In between two predictable "Happy Valentine's Day, honey!" one can receive a: "My bad! I behaved like a jerk. Please forgive me!" card. Or the numberless "Happy TOday to you!!!" card, cake is optional. In lieu of a Xmas card: "The right time to mail this card coincides with the right time to cut your credit card". In fairness, Hanukkah cards should clearly state: "Yup... no gifts, just calories. Mazel Tov!". Retirement: "For crying out loud, quit 5 years earlier and play, play play!".

This was an unusually stressful week for me and those around me. Besides the corporate restructuring, let me say it, as cryptically as I can, that the aforementioned mate-poacher was dissatisfied with the lack of respect for yet another attempt to justify why child support cheque was not deserved, by the student-step-son they have never met. This was expressed in two hefty volumes of epic rambling, no one had the patience to comment on in reply. At least until she achieves temporary sobriety.

Instead, I needed a card. Actually, no... I needed a postcard. I needed the 21st century's equivalent of the postal carriage, delivering a tiny yet publicly observable slap on that cheek, that is oh so deserved... or maybe not.

After all, it was just one rough week. Then, again I can always throw myself into Twitter!


  1. Marina: Thanks for the positive feedback/comment on my new blog. I can't take credit for the design -- it's actually one of the free templates we had access to. I'll show you on Monday. Meanwhile, your blog looks great as-is with the accompanying art. -Michael

  2. I have such a strong memory of all the cards I got when my first baby was born, with messages like, "You must be over the moon!", which made no sense because I couldn't stop crying and wanted to run away forever. Someone should make a card for that. Perhaps you? Certainly, your postcard message is pretty effective!