I was shopping the other day when I remembered I had to buy a birthday card for one of my friends. I wheeled my cart over to the greeting-card aisle, and there, standing in front of the exact section I wanted (humorous birthday), was a man with a little girl who looked about seven.
I pretended to be interested in some anniversary cards as I waited for him to select a card a move on, but too soon I learned I was going to be in for a long wait.
“Daddy!” the little girl whined. “Hurry up!”
“I can’t find the right card,” he said, picking up another one and reading it.
“But you’ve read every one of them!” she protested.
“So, I’m going to read them all over again!” he said.
I decided to do a little more shopping and return.
Twenty minutes later, I still was circling the card aisle…and the guy and his daughter were still there. I was beginning to feel like a vulture waiting for something to drop dead. Finally, I figured I should drop a not-so-subtle hint. I moved right next to the guy and started reaching in front of him, grabbing cards at random.
“I’ve read them all,” he said to me. “Let me show you my favorite! I guarantee you’ll laugh!”
He handed me a card that said on the front, “Sorry if you don’t like this birthday card,” and on the inside, “but the customer next to me passed gas, so I grabbed the first one I came to and ran!” (Note: I am being polite here, saying, “passed gas.” The more common street-term was used on the card).
I laughed and handed the card back to him. He turned to the little girl and said, “I think you should give this card to Mommy!” He read it to her, laughing hysterically as he did.
She, however, didn’t share his enthusiasm. “I don’t want to give Mommy a card with that word on it!” she said, frowning. “It’s nasty!”
The girl grabbed a card and moved toward me. “Can you read this for me?” she asked.
I took the card, which had a bunch of colorful candles, all ablaze, on the front. It said, “Hey, babe, if you want to have a really hot time on your birthday, just wait until I get there!”
“I like it!” the little girl fairly squealed with delight. “That’s the one I’m getting for Mommy! She’s 33 today!”
“Um…” I said, “I don’t think this is the kind of card you want to give to your mother.”
“Yes it is!” she insisted. “I want to give her that one!”
Her father snatched the card out of my hand. “No. You’re not giving this one to Mommy.”
“It might be a good one for you to give to her, though,” I said to him, smiling, thinking he might finally make a decision.
“No, that wouldn’t work,” he said. “I’m a single parent.”
So much for that idea.
“Nobody likes the cards I pick out!” The girl now was in tears. “I want the one with the pretty candles on it!”
Her father actually moved away from his permanent perch in the humor section to check out the cards specifically for mothers. I suppressed the urge to fling myself across the card rack and claim a spot before he returned.
Within seconds he was back with a cute card that said, “Happy Birthday, Mommy” on the front. He handed it to his daughter. “Here, give her this one.”
The girl wasn’t impressed. “I don’t like it! I want to give her mine!”
“Too bad. We’re going to be late. You’re taking this one.”
Finally, they left. By then I also was running late. I had to get to the post office before it closed in 10 minutes. So I grabbed a card and rushed to the register.
And now I feel I really must apologize to my friend Laura…for sending her a birthday card about passing gas.