GREENBELT – Laurel’s police squad will get Valentine’s Day cards from a not-so-secret admirer.
Jodi Truax, 21, of New Carrollton, dispatches for Laurel’s police force and loves her shift of officers, especially “Sarge,” she said, referring to Sgt. Rick McGill.
Truax, who was cruising the Valentine’s aisle at the Curiosity Shop at Greenway Center, said she doesn’t mind that the squad probably won’t return the sentiment. “They’re men, they don’t do things like that,” she said with a smile.
A U.S. Postal Service survey gave some credence to Truax’s low Valentine’s Day expectations. It found that although 63 percent of all Americans send Valentine’s Day cards – an average of four each – women mail twice as many as men.
Informal interviews this week with more than 20 people in two shops, in the District and Greenbelt, seem to support the survey findings.
Truax and her life-long friend, Jennifer Hampton, were out on their second card-shopping spree, insisting that cards and Valentines are “totally” for women.
“We’re filled with goo,” said Truax. “And [men] are not in touch with their feelings,” added Hampton, 27, an office manager for a Lanham State Farm Insurance agent.
Truax, whose enthusiasm about the day matched Hampton’s cynicism, joked about the Elvis tin filled with candy she bought for her “guy friend” who is not her boyfriend “yet.”
Hampton, on the other hand, said she was recently stalked by two overzealous dates. “Men are evil,” she added.
But she was buying cards for her family and friends, despite her misgivings about the holiday.
Tom Renahan, 55, said Valentine’s Day is hard because if you do not do what’s expected, “you’re committing a social faux pas.”
He bought cards for his 26-year-old daughter, his mother and a “friend, who lives halfway across the country.”
Explaining his lackluster attitude toward Valentine’s Day, Renahan, an independent consultant, said: “I feel less involved with it because I’m no longer married. It’s a good holiday if you have someone close.”
The Greeting Card Association said messages found in cards match the needs of shoppers, whether they are cynical or enthusiastic. Contemporary messages include “alternative relationships, blended families and other ’90s themes,” the association said in a written statement.
Sales numbers suggest this to be true. More than 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards were sold in 1996, the association reported. That was up from 925 million in 1995 and 900 million in 1993.
Americans aren’t the only ones who get into the holiday.
Alice Hasslacher, a 23-year-old German graduate student studying communications at American University, this week stopped by the Celebrations in The Shops Mall to buy her parents a pop- out Valentine’s card. It was layered with lots of red hearts, cupid cherubs and gold letters. She said she wanted to show them how far Americans go with this holiday.
Back home, she said married people go out to dinner. “That’s about it.”
The Greeting Card Association says the legend began in 270 A.D. when an imprisoned St. Valentine sent a note to his jailer’s daughter, thanking her for bringing him food. During the next century, this simple act grew into a holiday on which secret lovers could exchange messages.
Americans adopted the idea from the French during the Revolutionary War. The holiday gained in stature here during the last century, with commercial cards appearing about the time postage rates became affordable.
Now, card giving and sending is a booming business.
The U.S. Postal Service reports that it delivers 30 million cards for Valentine’s Day, putting it second only to the Christmas holidays in deliveries. About 2.7 billion cards are delivered in December.
Betty Grant, who owns three Curiosity Shops in Maryland, said her businesses could not survive without holiday card sales. At her shops, she said, Valentine’s Day card sales are third in profitability, behind Christmas and Mother’s Day.
In the United States, most Valentine’s Day cards are passed between school-aged children. According to the Greeting Card Association, 650 million of last year’s 1 billion cards were given to teachers, classmates and parents from children ages 6- 10. After teachers and children, mothers get the most cards, then wives, then sweethearts. -30-