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July 18, 2005
The New Hallmark Moment: Cheating

Apparently there really is a greeting card for every occasion, as the commercials used to claim. Cathy Gallagher has ensured that with her new line of greeting cards for cheating spouses, romantically named the Secret Lover Collection. This product line emphasizes the special bond formed between two people who promise other people not to sleep around, but then do anyway:

Gallagher doesn't plan on patronizing her own business. "You don't have to be a murderer to write a murder mystery," she says.

Nor, apparently, does one need to be unfaithful to write a Christmas card that says, "As we each celebrate with our families, I will be thinking of you."

Gallagher says her Secret Lover Collection of 24 cards is the first line exclusively for people having affairs, and she expects hot sales. She says half of married people have had affairs (though some studies show the figure to be far less more like 15% of married women and 22% of married men, according to the University of Chicago). From former President Clinton's relationship with "that woman" to shenanigans on TV shows like "Desperate Housewives," affairs are out in the open.

"Look at the soap operas. It's all about forbidden love," Gallagher says in her Bethesda office, where the walls are painted red and pink. "Look at how many people on soap operas are having affairs. That's real. And I think that's why this is so scary these cards are real, and for a lot of people it hits very close to home."

It doesn't appear that Gallagher wants to warn us on how "scary" the culture has become, but rather cash in on it. Her cards don't just reflect the moment, but actively encourage it. With such sappy sentiments as "I can't imagine my life without you Even if I have to share you," and "I can't imagine not having you in my life. Let's start living our lives for 'us'", Gallagher's cards give a certain level of endorsement to the entire idea of cheating as a normal and even rational part of relationships.

Does Gallagher cause people to cheat? Of course not. But celebrating infidelity -- and explicitly profiting off of it -- amounts to an exploitation of misery for Gallagher's benefit. People used to consider that shameful, just as they did cheating on one's spouse. Now, apparently, both are considered just fine as long as one gets away with it. That kind of thinking does break down cultural norms, and while Gallagher may be more of a symptom than the disease itself, her joyful wallowing in emotional cruelty and the breakdown of families is disturbing to watch.

UPDATE: Mitch Berg has some ideas for new greeting-card lines. I think Mitch might be on the cusp of fortune ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 18, 2005 5:13 AM

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