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!


  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...

  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.

  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

  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.

  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.

  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.