Maxine was born old. Old and crabby. And funny.
That was 26 years ago. Today, she may be a little crabbier. It’s hard to tell.
Maxine, of course, is the cartoon character who brightens our crabby days with pithy, sometimes cutting remarks about something or somebody. But wait. Let me give you the official description of Maxine from Hallmark, the greeting cards people:
“Maxine, the self-appointed ‘Queen of Crabbiness’, has a feisty, insightful and hilarious observation on just about anything to do with life. She may be cantankerous, opinionated and mischievous … but in your heart you know she’s right! Maxine’s irreverent quips about aging, workplace, technology, pastimes, politics and political correctness strike a chord with women, but her unique brand of ‘yelling it like it is’ will amuse anyone with an attitude.”
OK, Maxine probably appeals more to women, but that’s only because she’s one of them and she’s on their side. Maxine, after all, is the world lightweight champion of male-bashing. Consider these cuts from her sharp tongue:
“The only men who have ever truly satisfied me were made of gingerbread.”
“There’s nothing sweeter than hearing a man say those three little words… ‘You were right.’”
But men love her smart, little, pouty mouth, too. Ray Chatterton, one of her nearly 570,000 Facebook fans, wrote: “For the writers and artist who create Maxine…God bless you. …”
The writers and artist, as you would imagine, are having a ball in Kansas City, Mo. I spoke by phone with the artist and Maxine creator, John Wagner, along with Bill Wagoner, art director, and Natalie Wiley, Hallmark’s properties program manager.
“We were looking for different characters,” Wagner said, “and we didn’t have an older woman like Maxine. I said, ‘What about an old, cranky woman who wore sunglasses?’”
So in 1986, at the age of Lord knows what, Maxine was born in Shoebox, a division of Hallmark. Two Maxine cards came out in the fall of that year. Today, Maxine sounds off on hundreds of cards, in a cartoon called “Crabby Road,” on Facebook, T-shirts, calendars, coffee mugs, memo pads and … well, you get the idea. Maxine is big.
She even ran for president of the United States last year. “We thought she was going to win there for a while,” Bill Wagoner said.
Sometimes, however, what seem to be Maxine’s words aren’t really hers. People will put their own words into Maxine’s mouth and post them on the Internet. “If it’s clearly offensive or not our writing,” Wiley said, “we try to shut it down.”
I could tell you more about Maxine, but she can speak for herself, thank you:
“I dress for success. If everything’s covered, it’s a success.”
“I want to thank everyone who brings healthy treats to a Christmas party. Those extra five minutes in the nursing home are sure to be heavenly.”
“I’m prone to mood swings: Sometimes I’m grumpy. Sometimes I’m grouchy. Sometimes I’m crabby.”
But Maxine, along with her dog Floyd, is always funny.
— Hudgins, a former community newspaper editor, can be reached at email@example.com.