January is National Thank You Month – created, no doubt, by those with a vested interest in “thank you” card companies. Yes, I’ve grown cynical enough to believe that even expressing gratitude is a racket. Why wouldn’t it be? This is America, land of the freebooters, home of the brazen. If I could get away selling two words on a page, I would. Thank you. Mental note: Start a secondary market in “You’re Welcome” cards. Buy yacht. Given the politeness of some gift recipients, it stands to reason that the “Thank You” lobby would claim January as their month, coming off the holiday season and all. But have they considered extending National Thank You Month into February, when the most conspicuous displays of gratitude spew like a Roman vomitorium on Bulimics Night? I’m talking about the Oscars.
You know, when contenders race to thank all creatures great and small before the music plays and they’re forced to stop. It’s like reverse musical chairs but without chairs. Or a point.
Last year, Georgia Tech master’s student Rebecca Rolfe led a research study concerned with gratitude. She analyzed more than 200 Academy Award speeches and learned more people thank producer Harvey Weinstein than God. This stands to reason, because God has never produced a film.
Rolfe also found that 84 percent of speeches end with a “Thank You.” I could only imagine how the other 16 percent end – middle finger? Mic drop? Flag burning followed by urination to quell the flames? All three? We can only hope Nic Cage gets nominated again to wait and see.
I suppose the problem with National Thank You Month is the fact that it’s not simply National Gratitude Month, because that’s the underlying concept, right? What, too on the nose? Of course, the branding of “gratitude” may have been compromised. Those who’ve had the pleasure of buying me lunch might’ve heard me grouse about a Cafe Gratitude, a chain of raw food restaurants. The staff have this insidious mandate to ask you, “What are you grateful for?” at the end of your “meal.” Ugh.
First off, I abhor sentences that end in a preposition. Secondly, how dare some twenty-something ask me to inventory my privileged First World life for their approval? Yes, I’m aware that my reaction is telling in ways that reveal deep pools of angst and darkness within a withered soul, but, hey, that’s how I make my living.
My initial thought (which Malcolm Gladwell thinks is one’s best thought and this is why he’s a genius) was to say, “I’m grateful this is the only job your liberal arts degree will get you so I don’t have see you in real life.”
But the fact is, Gladwell is not a genius and I’m not actually that rude. If memory serves, I mumbled my stock answer, something akin to, “I’m grateful to be here with my wife.”
But that came off as totally disingenuous because I wasn’t grateful to be there and my luncheon companion was not my wife. It was a publicist trying to sell me on a crap ebook. And he was a dude. This made everyone uncomfortable. Including the ebook author who wasn’t even there.
Incidentally, Cafe Gratitude is an anagram of Actuated Grief – just say’n. If the waitress had asked, “What are you ungrateful for?” now, that would’ve been a delicious side of raw existentialism, which would taste exactly like crow. Tallying all that one can take for granted in this life would take an eternity. Might be easier to just start “National No Thank You Month” and decline the invitation entirely. Feel free to use that as needed. You’re welcome.