As I type this, I'm currently in Raleigh, North Carolina. It's actually my first time in the United States so of course I go to the south, instead of a busy city like New York or Los Angeles. I don't think anyone ever chooses to go to Raleigh as a vacation spot but I personally love how spacious and suburban it is.
I've been exploring shops around here and one of them was Family Dollar. Okay, to get it out of the way, just because it says "dollar" on the store name does not immediately make it a dollar store where everything is a dollar. What caught my eye was the greeting card section. Sure, it looks like any other greeting card section in any store but it's my first encounter with one in America so that's something, right? Right?
To me, greeting cards are the simplest and easiest way to get something for someone with minimal effort. It's something premade - you didn't have to make the designs or the intro spiel. You just have to buy it, write something generic, and make it seem like you tried. 7 dollars? Done, happy birthday. I've personally done better things with a greeting card just to make it worth the hassle of sending it.
You know what? The perfect way to describe my experience with greeting cards is by using a stolen writing style of a series I used to write about nearly a decade ago on my Tumblr.
How I Never Met Your Mother Part [?] - Happy Happy Sappy
Kids, in the spring of 2019, I had a brilliant idea to send my best friend at the time a birthday gift. I wanted to do something special for her since she was my best friend and all. Let's call her Mary Beth - she is pretty southern after all. At the time, Mary Beth and I were the best of friends and I absolutely loved her.
It was Mary Beth's birthday in the end of March and I was too far to even come to her house. So I thought I'd do the next best thing and send something along the lines of a care package. To keep it a surprise, I just told Mary Beth that I'd be sending her a greeting card. Nothing too special.
I thought I'd try to be nice and give her a gift for her birthday. It's not much but I thought it was more than enough. I remember putting two PS4 games that she'd never played before - Final Fantasy XV and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. I put the artbook and soundtrack from my Life is Strange collectors edition because that was a game she and I loved.
Heck, I even threw in a Life is Strange shirt that I bought from Hot Topic at the time. I remember getting two other shirts but I have no memory of what the designs were.
My favorite addition was the book "How Not To Write A Novel", a book that I love and is very useful for writers. As a joke, I left in an advertisement card for the WWE Network in the pages. I remember using that as a bookmark. Mary Beth told me she found it hilarious and couldn't stop laughing in front of her sister and grandmother.
The finishing touch would be the actual card. I remember choosing it from the drug store before work and not knowing what to say until I had to actually pack up the box and send it. Now, in the years since I've written it, I don't remember what I wrote on it. I just knew it sparked a reaction from Mary Beth.
I remember her sending me a message on my way to work.
Mary Beth: This is not a fiery card.
[Kids, she didn't say "fiery"]
Ralph: How so? Wait, did you open it?
Mary Beth: I had to! My grandma brought it over and was insisting I open it.
Ralph: Hey, I had to surprise you somehow! Love you, buddy!
Mary Beth: You made me cry! In the years that I've been alive, no card has ever made me cry so congratulations and forget you!
[Kids, she didn't say "forget"]
It was amusing to think that a friend of mine cried over a greeting card for her birthday. And kids, this was one of the best memories I had with Mary Beth. This was when her family started knowing about me and how I was her best friend. It was great until it all faded away. But that's a story for another time.