Relationships & Dating

The Five Card Trick

So last year I sent 5 Valentine’s cards. I know what you’re thinking. What a nice guy, sharing joy and flattery throughout the female population. Oh, you’re not thinking that at all? You’re thinking I’m a desperate freak?

Not at all. If I were desperate I’d be using the targeted mass-mailing e-card system I developed in my twenties, but chose not to deploy, which was my own personal choice and nothing to do with European data protection laws.

Anyway, putting your judgement of me to one side for a moment, and on with the story.

Firstly I should point out, all of these cards were sent anonymously, because there’s nothing that ruins the elation of receiving a beautifully complimentary Valentine’s card quite like discovering that it’s from me.

I wanted to (rather philanthropically I might add) bring a smile to the face of some of my favourite girls, and it’s one of the reasons I actually look forward to Valentine’s Day. In fact, I purposefully try to be single around this time each year so I can, guilt-free, indulge in this festival of furtive flattery. Add to that a 6-month margin of error before and after February 14th and you can see how I’ve been single for so long.

hrYou’re probably wondering where I found so many lovely girls to woo. Easy. The workplace. But don’t worry, I’m not going to be getting myself into trouble for writing this post – all but one of the girls I sent a card to last year mysteriously left the company shortly after, and in some cases the country, but more on that later. You might also be thinking that writing this up on the internet would jeopardise my ability to send future workplace Valentines, but posting this is actually a very cunning plan by me to inspire copycat acts. Rather than giving the game away if someone receives a strangely anonymous Valentine’s card or flowers this year, I can simply blame one of my acolytes who saw it on McCannecdotes.

For financial reasons I’d whittled my shortlist down from about 30 or 40 to just 5. Other than the fact it felt strange to be doing something where a success rate of more than 20% could potentially cause major problems, I was ready to go.

Two challenges remained. 1) Acquire and write the cards. 2) Have them delivered with discretion.

The card shop

It was the day before my cards needed to be “posted” and I was up against it. I scrambled after work to the local card shop, a pokey little place at the best of times, but particularly congested when half of Westminster’s male population are in the same predicament as me. I strode in hoping the staff would recognise me from previous years, and reward my status as a bulk buyer with perhaps some VIP Personal Shopper-type experience. It was not to be.

I was stuck behind a crowd of dickheads three rows deep, all trying to “find the best card for their loved one on this special day”. Cunts. I had volume to get through. I peered between shoulders to get a look at the dwindling shelves and started to make some quick decisions.

Right, any card with small writing on it was ruled out – I literally couldn’t read it from this distance. Cards that had jokes about “jugs” on them, also out. I would be writing the messages in these cards using a pen that technically belonged to work; I didn’t want the HR department involved. Cards that were too mushy, also out. I was not in love with these women, nor seriously seeking a relationship with them (well, OK if one was offered I wouldn’t say no, but…)

You can’t give someone a card saying “I love you more than life itself, there will never be anyone else” and then leave it anonymous. She’ll be scouring the obituaries looking for poetic suicides for the rest of her life.

I just needed something that said “Hi, don’t mind me, compliments of the season and all that,  can I just say you’ve got a certainly above average level of attractiveness, and are of sufficient humility that I feel you can accept this compliment without it going to your head and turning you into some kind of egotistical maniac.” But in four words or less.

By this time people were nudging me out of the way as the shop filled up even more. Why do people leave everything till the last minute. Unbelievable…

I almost felt the urge to make an announcement, “Yeah excuse me, sorry I’m still deciding but I’ve got 5 cards to buy here for 5 very distinct and unique women with various thresholds of taste, decency and tolerance, plus I can hardly even see the shelf from here. That guy there, has been standing at the front since I got here. He can’t love her that much if it’s taken him ten minutes to pick a fucking card.”

A gap opened in the “looking queue”. I swooped in and grabbed a total of nine cards from the mental shortlist I’d built up.

Five recipients – nine cards. If anything I was taking a risk getting so few. There are many things to consider. Those of you not experienced in this kind of thing wouldn’t understand. I needed to match the cards up to the right girl, there will be some wastage. I also saw one really nice card so bought two of them; I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to send the same card to different women in the same building, but that was a risk assessment for later. Also there was bound to be one card which seemed cute in the shop but I later changed my mind about.

I got to the checkout, literally by just turning round – the shop really was that fucking small. I was flustered but now needed to focus on how to play this to the checkout lady. I had to avoid seeming like I was from a rival shop, bulk buying their quirky eye-catching cards for my own display. I also had to avoid suspicions that I was a desperate freak (you know, the kind you thought I was when you read at the top of the story that I sent 5 cards last year).

YES!

YES!

If anyone queried me, I was from the European Commission, investigating the environmental impact of printed greetings cards. These “samples” were to return with me to Strasbourg for thorough testing. I would then repeat this declaration in pidgin French and the lie would be sealed.

“Anything else sir?” she asked.

Anything else? I’ve just bought nine fucking Valentine’s Cards. What the fuck could I possibly want to add to my…. OOOH THEY HAVE LITTLE PACKS OF LOVEHEARTS!

I grabbed a 12-pack of mini Lovehearts and emptied my wallet on the counter.

What to write

It was Friday lunchtime; Valentine’s Day was the next day but I needed my cards delivered at work. Finding out the actual name of some of these girls was a big enough problem, never mind finding out their home address.

I was up against it, again. Eating lunch is for those already in a loving relationship. I had cards to write.

As I suspected there was one card which seemed cute in the shop but verged on creepy when I actually came to write in it.

It said “You’re lovely, can I keep you”; written in Fridge magnet letters. In the shop it seemed innocent and childlike. As I pictured someone receiving it from an anonymous admirer, I started to worry it sounded ghoulish, like I wanted to store them in my fridge, possibly in a dismembered state. Making it worse was that the little Spanish who was going to get this card was so small she’d probably have fitted quite comfortably in a fridge. Talk about “Netflix and chill”. I was halfway though writing a message and abandoned the card. It’s OK, I had 8 more.

I went cold on the idea...

I went cold on the idea…

I also abandoned the idea of sending the really nice card to two recipients. Too much danger of them finding out. To be on the safe side I was already planning to vary handwriting and pens used in case of some scenario where the cards were compared.

As usual, I then fucked up one of the cards while writing in it, messing up the name of the girl herself. I might as well have signed that card “Love, Spazimodo”. I binned it, and chose another, feeling smug that I had been prudent enough to buy so many contingency cards.

Soon enough, the cards were done, and ready to send.

The logistics

Of course I was not entrusting Royal Mail with these missives of love. 1) As mentioned I had no home addresses, and 2) I wanted them to arrive in 2015, in one piece, and not via Scarborough.

My plan had been meticulously thought out. I would use the internal post, but I would ensure the postman hand-delivered them – they had to arrive that afternoon so my lovelies could take them home at the weekend to show their … well, probably boyfriends and husbands knowing my luck. A key risk here was the postman blabbing about where they came from. This was where my stroke of genius came in.

I would not be giving them to the postman. I would use the services of an intermediary. That, coupled with the entirely different handwriting on each envelope, would make the cards untraceable. Remember, it wasn’t just important to conceal my identity, it was also important to ensure that each recipient didn’t realise that the person who sent them a card also sent one to 4 other girls.

My intermediary’s identity shall remain protected. I will call her Charlene. Some of you may remember I have used this pseudonym before to protect someone’s anonymity, the girl who punched me repeatedly in the face in a taxi during this hilarious McCannecdote. Don’t worry, there won’t be any confusion. It’s the same girl.

So Charlene agreed to help me by passing an envelope full of envelopes to the postman. Her cover story was that, since she’s so nice and lovely, she had offered to help various boys around the company get their cards into the hands of their sweethearts. What an angel.

The deed was done, and by mid-afternoon the envelopes had been hand-delivered to the lucky ladies. Since they were all anonymous, it’s not like I was really expecting anything to come of this, so I assumed I was done for another year.

The aftermath

It turned out I was right to have been skeptical about the postie’s discretion. It seems he buckled under intense questioning. By intense questioning I mean when he handed over the cards, the girls said “who’s this from?” and the postman said “Oh, Charlene”.

We found out about this when one of the girls went up to Charlene and thanked her for the card. Charlene was mortified, not only that her act of kindness had seen her portrayed as a serial lesbian in front of colleagues, but also because she had no fucking clue what I had written on these cards! (“Hi Charlene, thanks for the lovely card, and the vaginal questionnaire you enclosed…”)

I reassured her all my messages had been nice and wholesome. Nonetheless Charlene had to explain herself, that she was just a middleman, and the real sender of the card was still at large. Meanwhile we plotted the assassination of the loose-lipped postman.

So, you’re probably wondering if there’s a happy ending after all this. Actually on this occasion, there are lots of happy endings.

True love found its way. Mere weeks after receiving my card, one of the girls moved to another country and got married. Incredible outcome.

Another got pregnant. Almost instantly. Seriously, she had a bump the very next time I saw her. That is a drastic solution to escape my affections.

Two more left the company shortly after to pursue new opportunities in a McCann-free environment. Seems like getting a Valentine’s card from me opens a lot of doors. Just none of them to my bedroom.

And the one that’s still here? Well, I’ve still never spoken to her, but I’m looking forward to sending her a follow-up card next week. Just need to remember which handwriting I used…

About the author

Alan McCann

1 Comment

Don't just sit there, say something, the silence is freaking me out!