Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy, Like, Belated Birthday

I've been sitting on this one awhile. I got a card for my friend Ethelred for her birthday back in February. Before I put it in the envelope, I scanned it because I wanted to blog about it and even promised in the birthday greeting that I would blog about it. But then I couldn't blog about it because I couldn't remember what I had named the scan, and I have a lot of scans and photos sitting around on my computer.

Was it card.jpg? No.

Birthday.jpg? Nope.

Maybe blog.jpg. No, that's what I name the flag photos.

I tried variations of Ethelred's name, including Ethelred and Eth. This morning I spent some time looking for it and finally found it again under the name pms017.jpg. Nice.

Anyway, here it is.

You can see why I had to get it. It's so incongruous I thought it had to have been made in China, but no, it's made of 100 percent Made-In-USA recycled WTF. I was in sixth grade when I bought the "Valley Girl Guide" from my Scholastic book order in 1982 and was a little young to be a part of the Valley Girl scene. Well, that, and the fact that I was living in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time. But I have to say I'm pretty sure this isn't Valley Girl.

No, this is clearly something someone found in one of those giant clip-art catalogs newspapers and ad departments used to have before such things were computerized -- huge slippery books that you actually clipped the art out of to use it. We had one of those at the college paper Ethelred and I worked at and part of the reason I am sympathetically drawn to this card is that its leggy, angularly drawn model reminds me of late nights laughing until we couldn't see straight as Back Page boys made clip-art collages and narrated them with little speech balloons.




Everything's funnier when it's in print. Or, you know, at 3 a.m.

I love everything about this card. Its cheery colors. Its label text on the front (not even an exclamation point after "Valley Girl" -- it's just a statement). (On the inside, it says "Have a, like, totally awesome birthday!" in the same font.) Its attempt at flashback nostalgia and its total miss. THOSE SHOES! AND HAIR RIBBONS!

I was not a Valley Girl, but she is not, either. She could be a model from a Butterick catalog, fall collection, from 1972. But what she really reminds me of is someone who would have been one of the letter-writers in Growing Up And Liking It, the little booklet about menstruation all the girls received in fourth grade at school. That site is terribly designed, but it has a TON of hilarious and infuriating information, as well as a complete copy of "Growing Up And Liking It," which my friend Natalie and I read out loud to each other as we sat in the branches of a tree in her yard after we got it, screaming with laughter and rolling our eyes.

Anyway. Happy birthday, Ethelred, and many happy returns!

6 comments:

  1. Yes, the most fun times at the Marquette Tribune occurred after 2 p.m. Coincidentally, productivity also plummeted after this time.

    And we had a clip art book, too, but it had photos. Naturally we found the photos illustrating "Intimacy," "Sex" and "Male/Female Relationship." They were quite, uh, explicit. We never got to use them. Damn Catholic school...

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  2. I was a Valley Girl for Halloween, 1982. Then I moved from northern Minnesota to California and realized I had missed the mark a little. But not as much as this card.

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  3. Anonymous6:54 PM

    "Have a, like, totally awesome birthday!" is malformed Valley Girl, anyway. It should be "Have, like, a totally awesome ..."

    I don't think you can put "like" between an article & a noun.

    Anna Phor

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  4. The "SUBMIT" clip made me laugh my a** off.

    As did the card. Gracias... it was perfect.

    As did the "Growing Up and Liking It" booklet! I remember laughing about it with my mom when I was in 5th grade -- especially the one girl writing to her friend, "What is a uterus?" I had completely forgotten the part about "odor" in quotes. It would be indelicate to talk about odor without surrounding it with protective punctuation.

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  5. Mach1: Now THAT's a clip art book.

    Beverly: That cracks me up. What did you wear?

    Anna: I KNOW. Seriously, there was NOTHING right about this card.

    Eth: I'm so excited you had that book too! I remember Natalie and I talking about how the one girl was soooo uninformed about such things. "What is a uterus?" REALLY? And yeah, when I dug "Submit" up I laughed all over again.

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  6. Also, one thing I did scan but didn't use was another use of that family reading the newspaper but instead of "Fear and Loathing" it said "SHAVED!" which I thought was a bit risque for this family-oriented blog, even though I just recounted it here. HEE.

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