It is August 24th and here it is, the inaugural Stranger’s Day! This is a brand new holiday first announced on page 73 of the August 15 & 22, 2011 issue of The New Yorker by Roz Chast, the hilarious cartoonist with her inking pen on the pulse of the world. She’s the mastermind behind Crankster. (Confidential to Mark Zuckerberg: watch out.) Stranger’s Day is Roz’s next phenomenon in the making, and I’m determined to do my part to make it very strange indeed. You ask:
You: What the hell is Stranger’s Day?
According to Roz, this is the holiday where we acknowledge the billions of random Joes and Joettes out there that we don’t know, don’t care about, that neither know nor care about us! What symmetry! What simplicity! What a middle finger to the oozing sap that’s Valentine’s Day!
As a resounding social networking clod, Stranger’s Day is definitely my kind of holiday. Last week when I received the Laughter Lovers e-blast from Blake Eskin of The New Yorker (filling in for Bob Mankoff) announcing that Roz had made Stranger’s Day greeting cards available through Café Press for $23.99 for a pack of 20 (bargain rate of $1.1995 per card) or $2.99 each, I thought:
Me: Sign me up!
Then, I noticed that shipping these cards in time for Stranger’s Day would set me back $31. I next thought:
Me: Screw that!
Then, I resumed crunching numbers at my desk and fighting a coma until a light bulb blew out over my head. It dawned on me that maybe the kindred needy spirits of Café Press would cut me a break on shipping if I praised them all out of proportion on my blog. I phoned Café Press’s call center in Mississippi and I got through to Synetra the Wonderful. Following is an edited version of our exchange.
Synetra: Café Press. This is Synetra.
Me: Hi, are you familiar with the Stranger’s Day cards on your web site?
Synetra: No ma’am.
Me: Are you familiar with the cartoonist Roz Chast?
Synetra: No ma’am.
Me: Are you familiar with The New Yorker magazine? It’s been around since 1925, it remains very popular and it’s still profitable.
[Editorial comment: okay maybe there was some leading the witness there.]
Synetra: I think I’ve heard of them, ma’am.
Omitted: ten minutes of back and forth exchange primarily filled with nine minutes of shameless begging from me for three single cards at a radically reduced shipping rate. Fast forward to the conclusion of the conversation:
Synetra: When your order ships, the $31 in shipping charges will be deleted, ma’am.
Café Press and Synetra the Wonderful, you rock!
The cards arrived on Monday and as I held them in my sweaty little paw, I was overcome with nausea. Hey, I now have to exit my comfort zone and select three strangers to be my stranger. <gulp> Who will I select? My criteria:
- Someone that does not look like they’re carrying a concealed weapon.
- Someone that does not look like they’ll yell at me or beat me up.
- Someone that smells good or is unscented.
- Someone that is not wearing a tee shirt with the caption, “I’m not hung over but my mouth tastes like a brewery.”
- Someone that looks like they know how to read (preferably The New Yorker).
- And of course, someone I don’t know that doesn’t know me that I’ll never see again.
If you were one of my three strangers, how strange was this? If you take the time to comment here, remember to mention your code word so I know that you are you and not someone that thinks they can punk me. If I threw up a little when I handed you your card, I hope it was not on your attire, and I apologize profusely.