I saw the young woman yesterday, crouched down at the greeting card rack. One whole display rack -- 15 feet long at least -- at our local Target was devoted to Valentines Day cards and this person was poring over a large selection of 'for husband' cards that were on the bottom levels, somewhere near the center.
I know because I looked.
I looked because she was there when I went up the aisle, toward the back of the grocery section, looking for something, and because she was still there when I returned, empty-handed, after a lengthy and thorough search.
Some people are card people. These may not be exclusively female, though, in my experience, that has always been the case. Long Suffering Spouse is most definitely a card person.
Long Suffering Spouse will spend agonizingly long minutes in card aisles when a child's or grandchild's birthday draws nigh, searching diligently for just the right card. One of the most popular posts on this site, currently, is this 2012 essay about Long Suffering Spouse choosing just the right card for our daughter-in-law, Abby.
When I have the misfortune to be with Long Suffering Spouse during one of these searches, she will invariably grouse that I am "rushing" her. Which I suppose I am.
I mean, I could content myself, for awhile anyway, looking at the allegedly humorous and/or 'naughty' cards. Strictly for my own amusement, of course. Some of them are amusing. But Long Suffering Spouse would never consider any of these for anyone.
And that's the problem: If she sees me looking at such cards she is keenly and immediately aware that I am not fully engaged in the quest at hand. That's a problem. More specifically, that is my problem.
With grandchildren, it's easier to stay out of trouble. One of the little ones is turning four? She loves Paw Patrol? Grab three cards with Paw Patrol puppies on them and proudly hand them to my wife: See? I'm contributing.
Of course, keying in solely on cartoon characters can backfire. (As my wife hands one of my three cards back to me, "Um, Curmudgeon, are you blind? This is an Easter card!")
Our oldest grandson just turned four. He likes Paw Patrol well enough -- but he is currently obsessed with dinosaurs. And that verb is carefully, and correctly, chosen. I hope he eventually becomes a palentologist because he is filling up a lot of brain buffers at an early age with the Latin names of obscure dinosaur species. If he becomes the next Jack Horner, Paul Sereno, or Robert H. Bakker, he's getting a great head start... but, if he doesn't, he's going to need to write over a lot of brain storage.
Picking out a birthday card for him should have been easy. Grab a handful of cards with dinosaurs on them (there were quite a few); hand them to Long Suffering Spouse.
But nothing in this life is easy. Long Suffering Spouse had to consider a number of issues before selecting just the right card. Is this dinosaur too scary? No, this is a leaf-eater. Doesn't the kid favor carnivores? Which does he like better, raptors or tyrannasours?
Granted, Long Suffering Spouse's considerable efforts were rewarded: Younger Daughter later told us that the boy took his not-too-scary carnivorous dinaosaur card to bed with him the night we celebrated his birthday. But I wonder whether any of the five or six carefully considered finalists might also have been similarly favored if they were selected....
Here's the thing with cards: They're nice. It's good to be remembered on one's natal day, or at Christmas, or whenever. But, at some point, the grandkids, like their parents before them, are going to open the cards in such a way as to immediately ascertain whether there is currency, or a negotiable instrument, or perhaps a gift card, embedded within. Some will be less subtle about it than others. If there's sufficient cash inside, it doesn't matter if what is outside. Blank paper would serve just as well.
Long Suffering Spouse would be aghast that I dared utter such an heretical thought aloud, or even on an anonymous blog. Perhaps, however, deep inside, she may even suspect that I'm right.
But it will not stop her. Or even slow her down. Like the young lady in the Target store yesterday, she will hunch over the card racks for hours, if she can find the time, searching for just the right card.
And she will always find it.