Maybe I shouldn’t share something so personal with the world, but...my love affair with books continues unabated.
I’ve just finished Willie Nelson’s autobiography (“It’s A Long Story”) and Lebanon Levi’s “Amish Confidential.” I’m already up to the post-World War II section of “Even This I Get To Experience,” the memoir of nonagenarian TV producer Norman Lear.
And next? I’ve stumbled across a 2007 book by Bill Shapiro that certainly gives me that Come Hither look: “Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant To See.”
Oh, yeah, my inner voyeur is panting over the prospects of diving into such a salacious volume. If the publisher had emblazoned “Wet Paint” across the cover, it would have been just icing on the cake.
But I’m not quite ready to commit to the book. My inner voyeur has to share room with my inner arsonist and my inner jaywalker and my inner vagrant and my inner polka dancer and all the rest. (“Ow! Get your elbow out of my eye. And who had beans and cabbage for lunch? Inner arsonist, don’t think of lighting that match!”)
Reviews for Shapiro’s book found many of the exchanges cute or sweet, but let’s not overlook the “guilty” in the “guilty pleasure” aspect of such a project.
Deep down, most of us realize that someday someone else will be boldly remodeling our family’s beloved home and total strangers will be walking their dogs near our graves. But we don’t necessarily think about some flea marketeer or demolition team perusing all the pet names, sweet nothings, sappy sentiments and crazy dreams in our courtship correspondence.
We hate to throw out the potentially embarrassing letters because we always think we’ll have one last chance to dispose of them before we’re dead or incapacitated. We procrastinate about burning them, in case we find a convenient rainy afternoon and can haul them out of the attic to do some romantic reminiscing. (“Those smells bring back memories, don’t they, honey? For instance, that perfume is...my sister’s brand!! Okay, are you going for dead or incapacitated, Romeo?”)
Of course, some letters would be embarrassing just for how stiff, restrained and BORING they are. (“What happens at a closely chaperoned church function stays at a closely chaperoned church function!”)
You know what I’m talking about. Some letters make it sound like the couples had buckets of flat latex paint listed on their wedding gift registry. (“Oooo, if the hotel doesn’t catch us, we can watch it DRY on our honeymoon!”)
Love letters (and letters in general) are a dying artform. We can only hope that someday a taciturn citizen who typically lets his sex robot scan his embedded barcode for instructions will try something retro. (“Z7BG3, I want you to call me Sugar Lips and talk really dirty about that black-and-white analog TV factory your parents are going to set us up with!”)
In conclusion, just put some thought into what becomes of your old love letters. Hey, if you really want to prank future generations, get rid of the originals and replace them with clever forgeries.
“Sis, you won’t believe this! We were conceived on either the Nina, the Pinta or the Santa Maria! Wait, that doesn’t sound right. I wish I had spent more time listening in history class instead of writing timeless love texts to What’s-Her-Name.”
Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”