Friday, September 26, 2008

Six-Dollar Thank You Cards

There's an old joke about bookmarks: Why spend a dollar on a bookmark? Just use the dollar as a bookmark.

I feel the same way about greeting cards.

Two nights ago Margaret Atwood invited me over for dinner. We had London broil. It was a good time; Len Findlay was there. And after it was over I decided to send her a note, thanking her for everything. But I don't have personalized stationery, and I didn't want to write on a sheet on lined paper. So I went to a Hallmark store to buy a card.

The cheapest card was five bucks plus tax. Now, five dollars is nothing. It's not a lot of money. But the thought of paying five dollars (six with tax) for a 4x6 piece of paper just bothered me.

Then I saw Tomson Highway in the store. I walked over to the "Christenings and Communion" section, hoping he wouldn't see me, but I stepped on a small twig and within seconds he was beside me.

"Going to Church?" he asked.

"No, Tom. Just getting a thank you note."

"They're over there," he said, pointing.

"Really? Thanks."

"Thank who?"

"No one. It doesn't matter."



"Atwood? Oh. Get her a black one."

"Do they make black thank you cards?"

"Sure. You think George Elliott Clarke'd buy a white one?"

"For crissakes!" I said, stopping him. He laughed, replacing the card.

"It was good to see you, Tomson. Take care, will ya."

Five dollars for a magazine is fine. You read the magazine, you read it again, and you put it in a basket in the downstairs washroom. Five dollars gets you a baseball or two large packs of gum. You can toss the baseball and chew the gum. What happens to the card? It's read, then thrown away. Right in the damn garbage.

But I bought the card anyway, and sent it to Peggy. She read it and threw it away.

But I was over there again yesterday, picking up a serving dish that she'd used for dessert (cupcakes from The Cupcake Shoppe), and there, on the fridge, was a five-dollar bill. "Thanks for everything," was written over those blue kids playing hockey, along with, "Sincerely, Philip Marchand."

So he'd had the guts.

"What are you going to do with the half-sawbuck?" I asked.

"Graeme wants some Kraft Dinner. The fusilli kind--I don't know what they call it. It's on sale at Fortino's."

Just think of all the money wasted on greeting cards. Hundreds of millions of dollars, just tossed in the garbage. Sign the money; inscribe it. Is it tacky? About as tacky as a black pearl.

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