Friday, November 11, 2011
Hallmark Mystery Theater
I traversed the aisles looking for blank cards. Blankly, I searched the shelves for blank cards that are not really blank, but only blank on the inside. I search the blankety-blank Hallmark store for some hallmark of aesthetic. Were any cards devoid of false sentiment? Did any cards, blank or unblank, express reality, my reality? I was coming up blank. My pistol of desire was shooting blanks. Sympathy. Birthday. For her. For him. Anniversary. New Job. Death of pet. Encouragement. Retirement. Troubled Relationship. I was drawing a black, with no pen in my hand. As I roamed the carpeted aisles, a man said to me, "Can I help you? Have you found everything?" I hesitated. I almost replied to those great one-liners, those generous prompts. He wore a cap, like a truck driver would. Sloppy jeans. A work t-shirt. (I could be making all this up; the memory is less sharp these days.) He looked my age. He looked like a shopper. Why was he blithely asking me this customer service query? "Where are the blank cards?" He answered confidently and quickly, "The next aisle over." Slim pickings. mostly dreadful. The outer faces. The inside blanks, though, were very similar, but surely not identical in shape, scale, symmetry, weight. I bought a blank card. Two identical fish silhouettes, in a pond, ripples outward. Asian, to me. Blank, inside. At the counter, when I paid for this Hallmark blank card, there he was. A customer, signing his credit card payment slip. Just like me. Pissed me off. And why?