Can't We Just Pretend That Never Happened? The Story Behind Those Story Cards

August 16, 2016

Can't We Just Pretend That Never Happened? The Story Behind Those Story Cards

Can't We Just Pretend That Never Happened, or Let's Pretend for short, is a line of unique and funny greeting cards from Kat Mariaca Studio, the same studio that brings you Taken Literally Story Cards, Alli's Fair (in love and divorce) story cards and its Complications line of relationship cards.

In this blog post, we get the story behind Let's Pretend from Katherine Mariaca-Sullivan, the author and illustrator behind Kat Mariaca Studio cards.

Where did the idea for your Let's Pretend story cards come from?

I'm a story-teller with an absurdist sense of humor. I enjoy pushing a story past just-funny-enough into something a bit more ridiculous. I also like humor that the reader or listener has to participate in, to think a little bit about, to "get it."

Not Bad for Your Age | Let's Pretend Story Card | Kat Mariaca Studio

What do readers and/or listeners have to "get" about this line?

Well, the stories themselves are a little extreme, they're not run of the mill, so to begin with I am trying to come up with stories that are unusual. Most of them have to do with terrible things that people do or say, that they wish everyone would forget about. That in itself is part of the absurdity - that anyone could ever forget. But then the perpetrator turns around and suggests that every should forget, that everyone should simply move on as if nothing untoward was ever done or said. Impossible.

I am asking the reader to "get" that there is more going on than just the story. There is the story itself, which I hope is funny. But then there is the character asking everyone to forget something that is impossible to forget. The idea that you could move past any of these stories, if they actually happened, is a second layer of absurdity. I am asking the reader to understand, then, that these are really stories within stories.

Or not. You don't actually have to pick them apart to find the humor in them. I hope.

Restraining Order | Let's Pretend Story Card | Kat Mariaca Studio

So, these are not your basic "happy birthday" sort of greeting cards?

No. That's what Hallmark and American Greetings are for. Like I said, I'm a story teller. In my "other" career, I'm actually a writer. I write novels and short stories. In this career, I'm trying to make a sexier, funnier greeting card that makes people laugh for days to come. You can, however, write "happy birthday" inside, if that is your reason for buying a card in the first place.

Grease Fire | Let's Pretend Story Card | Kat Mariaca Studio

But are greeting cards the right medium for stories?

Sure. Why not? To my mind, the purpose of a greeting card is to connect two people - the sender and the recipient - via a card. When you send a Let's Pretend story card, you're giving someone more than a basic connection, you're giving them a story that will amuse and entertain them, something they can enjoy for as long as they remember it. Your standard "happy birthday" card, you think, "well, that was nice of Joe to remember," and then you forget about it. You're not going to forget a Let's Pretend story card so quickly.

That's SO Gay! | Let's Pretend Story Card | Kat Mariaca Studio

Do some people find these cards offensive?

I am sure some people do. Just like some people find sappy poetry offensive. No, honestly, of course. Some of these stories are extreme and if you take them at face value, you might get upset. But, if you really think about them, you'll understand that while the cards offer up extreme stories, I am not condoning the sort of stupidity that some of the cards reveal. 

Take, for instance, the card, "That's SO Gay!" That was an early Let's Pretend card. I wrote it because I was trying to find a way to express to a teenage boy why his continued use of the term, "that's so gay" was offensive. Finally, I realized that listing the reasons why it is offensive, or offering a number of other terms he could use instead, was ineffective, and I had to find a way to personalize the message for him to "get it." This card is funny - someone gets busted for being small-minded - but it also carries a deeper message. It's like the famous rule for writers, "show, don't tell." This card shows.

All Out of Peanut Butter | Let's Pretend Story Card | Kat Mariaca Studio

But what about cards like "All Out of Peanut Butter"? Is there a hidden message there?

Absolutely. The message is, "stay away from my peanut butter. And my dog." 

No, really, that card came about when Daisy, one of my dogs, was sick and I had to find a way to give her her pills. No matter what I stuffed the pills in, she found a way to eat around them and spit them out. Until I tried peanut butter. That dog will eat anything if you coat it in peanut butter. My mind is a little twisted, I guess, and makes strange connections. I was writing Let's Pretend stories around that time and my mind made some connections... Enough said.*

Better Than a Stripper | Let's Pretend Story Card | Kat Mariaca Studio

What is the future of the Let's Pretend line of greeting cards?

So far, the line has 25 cards. I will continue to write them and release them as long as people find them funny. When I have 100 good ones, I'll collect them into a gift book. Sort of my twist on  the "Chicken Soup" books, but instead of heartwarming little stories, I'll be offering up hilarity and absurdity to make your day better.


*no peanuts were harmed in the making of this card


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