tales of a girl in the city

juillet 03, 2004

Love Letters: A Study

I think the first love letter I ever knew of was probably Beethoven's to his Immortal Beloved.
The signature at the end:

"ever thine
ever mine
ever ours,"

moved me.

And then I discovered e.e. cummings.

Then Rilke.

However, lest you think that I was some sort of precocious, affected, literary nerd who did things like read "Les Miserables" in the sixth grade--Well.


So, I was a precocious, affected ten year-old literary nerd carrying around Victor Hugo on her bookpile, mooning over love letters written by dead men with crazy hair. BUT let me reassure you that that did not stop me from running to the library with the rest of the remedial readers to tear through Flowers In the Attic looking for the sex scene. Nor did it stop me from worshipping every adjective (and Christ there are a lot of them)that dripped from the pen of one,




Yes. It is fair to say that my teen years were heavily influenced by The Bridges of Madison County. I wrote a lot about peregrines and being alone in a great storm. I filled entire notebooks with letters to Eric Ostermahn, who I knew for two weeks but loved with a certainty that comes but once in a lifetime. (He got in and out of his car Dukes of Hazard style through the driver's side window, and tried to play various musical instruments with his feet. We all knew I was That Girl already, so no one act surprised.)

ANYway, since my discovery of the love letter as a form of communication, I have received several amorous missives (fewer than 5) from various boyfriends (mostly just the last 2). And my best friend, Emily, has also received a number (entire filefolders full) from various boyfriends (and one boy for whom the term "boyfriend" should be understood to mean "hot wanna-be rockstar with huge dick and awe-inspiring penchant for oral sex.") So, in effect, between the two of us, Emily and I have collected an entirely un-random sampling of writing--some intended to actually be understood as letters conveying love, and some just written as drunken e-mails--from fewer than ten men.

Well, we all know what this means.

Because, here at Bellow we do not adhere to scientific standards or the rules for proper sociological study (we are not, after all, scientists or sociologists, but, instead, just Gorgeous Wonderful Beauty-Queen-Looks-Coupled-With-Nobel-Laureate-Brains-Who-Love-Being-Observant-But-Don't-Necessarily-Care-Whether-Or-Not-We-Are-Being-Entirely-Accurate Kind of People) I feel that is safe to say that we have now conducted a thorough investigation into the topic of love letters. As such, we can now make several very broad generalizations about love letters and the men who write them.

*Everyone jumps up and down excitedly*

Let us begin.

A love letter should never contain the word "poo."

Even if said note may not actually have been written as a love letter per se, it was still written to a woman with whom the writer was intimately involved, and, therefore, should NOT under any circumstances that I can think of, have contained either "poo," "poo-ey," or any other derivations of words pertaining to human excrement. Even the fact that it was preceded by the sentence "Sexual relations with you last night were yummy"--which is kind of cute when coupled with the knowledge that the writer of these lines possessed a penis the size of an oak--does not make up for the use of "poo." And though the author is a confirmed recipient of the little talked about "I Break For Pussy" Boy Scout Honor Badge, his use of "poo" is still unacceptable. Though a little less so. Because that's one hell of a rare honor badge/penis-size combo. So, on some level, who cares if he can write. Which, I guess, was the conclusion that Emily came to. Proving to us all, once again, that Emily is wise beyond her years.

Anyway. As usual, I digress.

Bottom line: If you really cannot muster up anything appropriate for ages 3 and up in the way of love letters, I would suggest just going full force back into your pre-school days. Forget love letters and resort to crafts. Get out the paste. Make her an Oscar the Grouch Christmas Ornament with a spool of thread and a green pom pon. She'll keel over from love. Unless she's Jewish. In which case, a popsicle stick menorah? Something like that. You'll figure it out.

In direct contrast to the immature, poo-reference containing love letter, Emily's collection also contains a love-letter specimen that I think represents an error commonly made by those attempting to craft romantic prose. We shall refer to this type of letter as The Ok, New Rule: You Can't Use The Word 'Doth' Unless You're In A Play That Also Requires You To Use The Word 'Codpiece' Love Letter.

I just spent an hour trying to recreate one of this guy's letters here, and I can't do it. I'm just not that good. Suffice it to say that he actually used the phrase "you bestow grace upon me" and later went on to mention either St. Francis of Assisi or St. Thomas Aquinas. I can't remember which. Either way:

Many un-sexy things can be made to be sexy, given the right treatment. Catholic Saints are so not one of these, that I almost want to grab the author of these letters by the head and give him a noogie just for trying. Though, I suppose, that kind of summarizes the plight of the man for whom St. Thomas Aquinas represents romantic love: his life will probably be filled with noogies, but he'll never get laid.

Now. On to my love-letter collection.

Let's see. There's the post card my first boyfriend out of college, Dan, sent when he was on a two-week long bed and breakfast vacation in Seattle with his MOTHER, that I was not invited to, because the two of them needed time together, since they were each other's self-described SOUL MATES. The self-same post card--one, as in "single," as in "only"--that he HAD to write to me because the hotels they were staying in were so intimate that they DIDN'T EVEN HAVE PHONES.

There's that post card. (The lesson learned there, I think, is obvious: I am an idiot for ever dating anyone who referred to their mother as their soul mate in the first place.)

There are the e-mails that S wrote in an attempt to heal his oh-so-bruised ego. They read like a scene from one of his movies and included such pompous statements as, "I know you don't want to lose me." Unbelievable what an ego that man had. It boggles the mind.

And now?

And now.

There is an ever-expanding collection of what can only be called, "The Real Thing."

Funny, romantic notes slipped into my suitcase. Newspaper articles he's read that he thinks I'll enjoy, popping up in my mail box unexpectedly with little notes scrawled across the top. Six postcards from his recent trip to Europe. All of them, silly and lovely and dirty and crazy. Witty. And tender.

And--sorry, guys 'cause you know I love to share--

And private.