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Travis: The different kinds of cards
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I went to buy my sister a birthday card and ended up spending more than 30 minutes and reading nearly half of the cards before finally choosing one I was really not satisfied with.

Birthday cards seem to fall in these categories.

Very specific. You can buy a card for a 1- to 21-year old, a husband, a granddaughter, an uncle once removed, a wife or any other specific type. But those cards did not have the sentiment I wanted to wish my sister.

Very mushy. Don't get me wrong. I love my sister. We are good friends, travel together once a year, shop together and enjoy each other's company. But I don't want to give her a mushy or sentimental birthday card.

Cute. If you want a card with a kitten or puppy on it, you will find a wide variety of choices. But as we have grown older, my sister and I like to temper the thought of another year added to our ages with some humor.

Old age humor. When you reach my age, you are basically OK with your age. It's not like turning 40 or 50 and having a life crisis. And as someone will always comment, it's better than the alternative. I accept that I can no longer do what I used to do. But I don't see anything funny about that fact or the fact that my body is slowly falling apart.

Bodily function humor. Middle-schoolers find bodily function humor hilarious. I don't think men ever outgrow it. But most women do. Please don't think I am an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy. But I don't need imitation sound effects to laugh.

Sexual innuendo. I don't know who buys these cards that imply that all sorts of impromptu sexual favors will come your way because it is your birthday. First of all they are improbable and, to my point of view, insulting. I know sex sells. Just look at the majority of advertisements on television. But I prefer discretion. I liked movies when the hero and heroine kissed in front of a window, and the camera panned to the moon slowly drifting across the sky. Your imagination is better than in-your-face sex.

My sister once sent me a birthday card that had on the cover seven rows of three nuns, each with a hand over her eyes as if she were saluting an army officer. You opened the card up, and it said a 21-nun salute for your birthday. Then there was the card that had a picture of a cowboy and a nun on the front. Inside it said your chances of getting a birthday present are Slim and nun. That's the kind of card I was looking for and did not find.

Do you think it is an English teacher thing? We like jokes that contain word play. I always told this joke to my classes right before we read "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." They always groaned.

It was Christmas Eve and a knight who had been on a quest for more than six months prayed for a place to say mass on Christmas Day. It was cold and snowing, his horse had died, he had nothing to eat and was despairing of ever completing his quest. Suddenly he saw a castle and, as he approached it, the inhabitants welcomed him with open arms. The lord of the castle gave him fresh clothes, a sumptuous meal and offered him his choice of entertainment. On Christmas day, he heard mass and enjoyed the Christmas banquet. After celebrating the 10 days of Christmas, the knight felt he must continue his quest. It was getting dark and the weather was still awful. It was snowing and very cold. The knight asked the lord of the castle for a horse on which to continue his quest. The lord of the castle said all of his horses were being used by his knights. The knight then asked about the large dog sleeping by the fire. The lord of the castle replied, 'Oh, no, I wouldn't send a knight out on a dog like this.'

You can groan now.

Paula Travis is a Newton County resident and retired schoolteacher. She can be reached at