Whenever I visit a Target or a Rite Aid drugstore, whenever I visit the greeting card store in the local mall, whenever I visit any establishment that sells American Greeting Cards, I always make it my business to check the racks of humorous cards. I'm not looking to make a purchase. I'm not looking for a quick laugh at some clueless remark ballooning out of the mouth of our last president or some eloquent bromide from our present leader. I'm not even looking to kill time while my wife shops (although that is often one of the unintended consequences).
What I am looking for is myself.
Let me explain. Some four years ago in December and then again in May, I drove up from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, a trip many Steeler fans like to make every year, but in my case not for football, but for a photo shoot at the official headquarters of the American Greeting Card Company which is located in the home of the Browns. I was on my way to what I hoped would be a lucrative career as a male model â€” a male model for the geriatric set. It's not that I consider myself particularly photogenic. It's not that I consider myself a senior hunk. It is simply that my agent had sent them my headshot along with probably 50 others, and someone who presumably knew what they were doing had picked mine. Whatever they wanted, I had it. Whoever they wanted, I was it. So, who was I to argue?
"Bring some short-sleeved shirts," my agent said. "Bring Bermudas. You got any with loud patterns?"
"It's December," I said.
"You got any with like a Hawaiian print?" he asked in a second phone call.
Hawaiian print and Bermuda shorts. Obviously they're not looking for Brad Pitt, nor Sean Connery. What they're looking for is one of the old funny-looking guys, maybe the one with a suppository in his ear. His friend says to him, "What are you doing with that suppository in your ear?" "Eh?" he says. What they're looking for is an old coot with skinny legs and sagging jowls. Like I said, they're looking for me.