Card Blanche

By Charles Osgood

The greeting-card industry has discovered a terrible, wonderful thing. Terrible for us, wonderful for them. They've discovered that we Americans don't know how to write letters anymore.

It could be argued that we don't know how to write anything anymore. Not only do people depend on greeting cards to say "Happy Birthday" or every other conceivable situation that might arise in life.

It started, I suppose, with specialized cards. "Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother-in-law." "Get well soon, my favorite uncle." From there, it sort of branched out, as card companies realized that the public wanted to use cards instead of letters.

I can imagine a whole new market for unlikely verses. How about:

"Please don't call the sheriff and send me to jail,
I swear on my honor; the check's in the mail."


"Roses are red, violets are blue,
I wouldn't start my car if I were you."

It will take computers, of course, to keep track of all the situational messages. But that's the price we pay for convenience.