There’s a card that my sister-in-law gave to my son for Valentine’s Day. It’s one of those silly little Valentine cards that you’re supposed to buy for the entire class, so it’s not actually romantic, it’s just socially acceptable. But it’s making me crazy. Again, not because I have anything against Valentine’s Day; I don’t. Instead it’s because of the pun on the card.
The card features an image of a lion. In fact, other than the text (I’ll get to that in a moment) that’s all there is on the card. his be-maned features fill the card from edge to edge. The problem isn’t the lion. The problem is the text.
“Theres(sic) no lion,” it says above the lion’s face, in blatant contradiction of the facts at hand. It finishes it’s sentiment underneath the lion’s face, stating “You’re great!” A nice, positive, affirming message. Sure, it’s one that is usually associated with a large cartoon tiger, but we can accept that. The problem is the whole “lion” pun.
I realize I’m over thinking this, but when something says “there’s no lion” I expect to be greeted by an entire absence of the king of the jungle. One cannot behave like this in polite society. If I were to say “there’s no giant gaping abyss” while standing at the edge of said abyss, I’d be seen as a lunatic at best and a public nuisance (and perhaps a danger to very gullible or distracted people) at worst. So when a card that is meant to be given to a student in a classroom lies like this it doesn’t sit well with me.
What bothers me even more is that the joke could have been done just as well if the top half had said, “I’m not lion”. While still unacceptable if we assume that the image on the card is the speaker, this rendering could be construed as true. The person who created this card most likely did so in Photoshop, and lions as a species have thus far failed to master any part of that program, so we can accept the original author’s claim of non-leonine heritage. Likewise, we can accept that the sender of the card, most likely a student in the third grade, is not a lion, and has called attention to this fact. The card further emphasizes the point by including an image of a lion, perhaps for comparison to the features of the sender to further strengthen their argument. Seen in this light, the “I’m not lion” line works infinitely better than the disingenuous lie “There’s no lion.” But the makers of this card felt otherwise, and I’m left to deal with the wreckage.
Perhaps they included the top text as a way to put the recipient at ease. A way to say “I realize the lion in this picture is quite realistic, albeit minuscule, but rest assured that the envelope in which I delivered this card to your shoebox-cum-mailbox is devoid of any form of big cat. The bulge in the envelope was caused by the small, chalky candy that you have probably already eaten in your panic” as it were. In this light, considering that they have reduced a paragraph of Hawthorne-ian proportions down to three words, they have succeeded grandly, and pulled off their safari-related pun at the same time.
So, it is in this reading, and this reading only, that I am willing to accept the card maker’s statement. Any further attempt to justify their blatant regard for facts will result in a return to my pedantic and neurotic state, and nobody wants that.