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The Geriatric Greeting Goof-Up

It feels good to do things for others. It feels somewhat less good to not be very good at it, but still we try. This is how we learn. Or at least have things to write about.

This week, my office sponsored an event to write cards for the elderly. At lunchtime, they set up supplies like an elementary school art room, with cardboard and pens and markers and glue and that corduroy kind of paper that's all wavy for no good reason.

(I mean, honestly. What's that stuff good for? You can't write on it. All the wavy bits get smushed down or ripped open when you try to use it. Is it just a tool to teach kids at an early age that they'll never have nice things?

Because that's an important lesson, to be sure. But I'm not sure it belongs in art class. At least wait until the munchkins make it to social studies, would you?)

Frankly, I didn't know people still gave each other cards. We've had a few years to get pretty good at this whole "21st century" business, after all. I thought we'd all moved on to birthday pokes on Facebook and get well IMs and tweets at Christmas saying, "Fuckin' fruitcakes, how do they work?"

This is a fine and noble endeavor, and I wanted to be a part of spreading joy to those who have mostly forgotten what the word means. Or where they left the TV remote. Or to put on pants.

(Or, you know, these. I'm just saying.)

But apparently, old people haven't gotten the memo. And they're the only ones still reading memos, so we're still making greeting cards for them by hand with colored paper and safety scissors. This is a fine and noble endeavor, and I wanted to be a part of spreading joy to those who have mostly forgotten what the word means. Or where they left the TV remote. Or to put on pants.

My enthusiasm was tempered a bit when I learned what type of cards we'd be making. I thought maybe Groundhog Day cards -- which seemed appropriate if they've ever seen the movie, because all these days must look pretty much alike after a while. Or maybe St. Patrick's Day cards, or birthday cards, or Christmas cards, because how many of them remember what month it is now, anyway? Yo, Esther. It's cold outside. I'm Santa, so far as you know. Ho ho freaking ho.

But no. None of those were the cards we made. What we made were Valentine's cards.

That threw me a little. Especially because I found out the day before, and the girl who was running the craftathon told us:

"We'll have paper and extras and everything you need. But feel free to bring your own supplies."

I wasn't sure what that meant, exactly. What sort of supplies would we bring to gussy up an octogenarian's valentine? I decided I should ask.

"You mean, like, Viagra?"

No. Not Viagra.


I was assured that condoms would not be necessary. The organizer girl suggested construction paper.

"Well, okay, but I don't see how they're going to wrap that around their--"

NO CONDOMS! She composed herself and sweetly indicated that no birth control of any sort would be required for the old people Valentines, thanks just the same.

"How about coupons for bottles of edible massage oil that tastes like applesauce?"

Emphatically, no. I started to wonder whether they were really serious about wanting our personal "supplies" at all.

Nevertheless, I showed up the next day -- empty-handed, to everyone's relief -- and set to work making valentines. Now, I've penned a few sweet Valentine's Day nothings in the past. But never for someone I hadn't met. And not for someone old enough to be my grandmother. Or grandfather. Gulp.

Still, I gave it a shot. Because I'm a trooper that way. My first effort:

"Red are the roses;
And purple digitalis.
Before you rub noses,
Better suck down a Cialis."

That didn't go over so big. So to speak. They said I should shoot for something less over the top, more "subtle". Fair enough:

"How do I love thee?
In a way that never ends.
Like one of your old stories,
Or six crates of Depends."

Also not a winner, apparently. "Unsendable", they called it. So evidently "subtle" wasn't enough, like I could possibly know that somehow. I cant' be expected to work under these conditions. Still, I tried once more to bring a little Cupid into some wrinkled old geezer's life:

"May your Valentine's be hopping;
May your spirits never slip.
And may those whose spit you're swapping
Use their Super Poligrip."

I don't think they're sending that one, either. Also, I didn't know we had a shredder in the lunchroom. So I learned some things today -- most of all that I should totally hit up Hallmark for a copywriting job, in the Toupees and Trusses Division.

Also, I'm not invited back for any more charity events in the lunchroom. Or allowed to speak to anyone over the age of fifty in the office. That's too bad. Those lovelorn old coots don't know what they're missing.

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