Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seven things I like - Part six

6. Mail

“Was there any mail today”, mom asked 12 year old me when she returned home from work.

“Nope”, I replied, eyes wide and suspiciously innocent behind my glasses. As soon as she turned her back I scampered off to shred the stolen evidence that was burning a hole in my pocket.

Disciplinary letters from school were a frequent occurrence at my house. I had a smart mouth, clogged up ears, and an immense dislike for authority. Especially one authority figure in particular: The bus driver. Her name was Ms. Wessinger and she was an absolutely foul creature. No one was exactly sure how old she was, but her face was wrinkled and scrunched up like a bulldog, jowls flapping in the breeze from the always open side window. She detested me and had a stack of pink suspension slips already filled out with my name. It’s likely to her that I owe the beginning of my love affair, my obsession, with our mailbox.

Every afternoon when I returned from school, by way of bus or someone’s car, I’d glance furtively around and approach the beckoning black boxes lined up on an old water pump. Even though what I was expecting to find was bad news, the thrill of pulling out an envelope and opening it was always the same. If there was an extra letter covered in stickers and drawings from my grandmother alongside the inevitable pink slip, so much the better.

I was sneaky and I was thorough. If I knew I was going to receive a disciplinary slip, and one always knew, and realized that I wouldn’t be the first person to arrive home, I made alternate arrangements. Older kids that lived around the corner or a certain middle aged neighbor with a penchant for mischief could always be persuaded to slip by our box and whisk away the proof. On the rare occasion that one of my cousins was unable to retrieve their own matching slip, I’d do it for them too. All for one and one for all.

However, there were times that getting caught was unavoidable. Times when a parent took sick and returned home unexpectedly, times when the school became suspicious about hearing no comment from a parent on their daughter’s active life of crime. But those times were rare, especially when I became driving age and didn’t have to bum rides or pretend to wait at the bus stop in the mornings.

The pink slips slowed to a trickle and I had to rely on pen pals for my weekly mail fix. I loved to write letters, loved to fold them and sign them with a flourish. My writing was a bubbly scrawl of mismatched cursive and print, taking up entirely too much room. I’m ashamed to say that I even went through a phase of dotting my i’s with hearts. But writing letters definitely took second place to receiving them.

It was that someone thought of me enough to write or that they took the time to mail the things they could have easily called to say, in considerably less time. It was just the mailbox...just the mail. But it seemed like such an important thing. I mean, they made their employees get up and deliver my adolescent musings rain or shine, sleet or snow. Bills even seemed exotic to me, with their little plastic windows and bright red letters proclaiming this or that was late.

Once, in typical idiotic kid fashion, I met a guy on the internet in a chat room. We exchanged addresses and, fortunately for me, he happened to be my age and not a child molesting murderer that planned to show up at my house and hog tie me in the basement. He lived halfway across the country and we wrote letters back and forth so often that I’ve got a shoebox full of them. (He’s actually the one that got me started on this whole blog thing in the first place, though we’ve lost touch since then.) Getting one of his letters in the mail used to make my day.

It was such a simple, innocent pleasure. I had a few other pen pals over the years, but none as prolific. And while I shudder to think of my own letters being stored in someone else’s shoebox, proof to the world that I was a complete and utter weirdo, reading their side of the exchange always makes me smile.

Now I get bills, fliers, invitations, bank statements, cards, and packages. And I can’t lie, I love them all. The bills, fliers, and statements I pile up without opening until there’s a leaning tower of correspondence on my book shelf to indicate just how important I really am. Only when it’s big enough will I open them. Cards, invitations, and packages I rip open immediately, gleefully. But letters...I don’t get those anymore. Not now, with email and text messaging being the preferred method of communication.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I love getting emails and instant messages and texts. I just love opening my mailbox more.

Lately, thanks to several of you bloggers, I’m been excitedly ripping open more packages than in previous years. It’s definitely made up for the loss of pink slips and pen pals.

So, a lovely thank you to the following:

Baglady – Who I believe was the first blogger to send me a care package. It contained not only a bag of delicious Percy Pigs, but a beautiful black and white photo in place of a postcard. Brilliant idea.

Erin – From whom I actually ordered a lovely array of crocheted items, but really, it was still a package.

Mylittlebecky – She sent me a huge box full of goodies! A float (which I LOVE because I live by the lake and rarely get out of it), my favorite candy, writing goodies, etc. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she’d been stalking me to find out what I like.

Ally – I commented on an awesome necklace she had and she actually sent me one AND a package of the cutest earrings ever, shaped like Russian doll things. I love her for it, but my family is so very tired of the vulgar message displays...especially "MyCuntRocks", which is the one I use most frequently. I mean, it's not like it's false advertising. Pssh.

Jules – From whom I won a lovely bright pinkish purple sex toy. So technically it was mailed in a discreet brown box from Babeland, not Jules, but she was the force behind my win. (Also, somehow the brown box wasn’t that discreet...)

Oh, and of course, I can’t forget about Kid in the Front Row. He sent me the DVD Lost in Translation because I’m smart and I won his contest a million years ago. And an English coin (2p?), which was cool because I collect them. Coins, that is, not specifically English money.

I currently have two packages that are LONG overdue to be mailed out and I’m remedying that immediately. Judearoo and Erin, that means you guys.

As for the rest of you, I’d like to offer to have a little contest and mail something fabulous to the winner but for some reason people are afraid to receive mail from me. I promise I know nothing about anthrax and I do not have a habit of sending strangers my underwear.

So, if you aren’t afraid leave a comment saying so (etc! I mean, don’t just comment on THAT.) and I’ll drop your name in my bra, swish it around, and pull out a winner. It might even come with your very own disciplinary pink slip.

26 comments:

Sara said...

Getting mail is one of my favorite things even as an adult. No one ever writes letters or mails postcards anymore. It ALWAYS makes my day a little better when I find one in the mailbox. : )

Ed said...

Bus drivers can be such dicks.

Dawn said...

I love me some postcards. Especially the vintage campy ones. No one in this house is allowed to get the mail except me. With age comes privilege.

Beta Dad said...

Hmm...there's never anything good in the mail here. Just bills and annoying bulk mail. Most of it ends up in the recycling bin and I feel bad about all the wasted paper. Plus I'm becoming a real freak about trying to keep the flow of junk away from my house. We get shit from Amazon about twice a week (usually kid-related), and I'm always like "What the fuck is this crap? Oh, sippy cups. I guess we need that."

Jules said...

It was KIND of discreet.... But my present was obviously the best...It keeps giving and giving and giving......

wupppy said...

i'm glad you added a picture, otherwise i totally wouldn't believe you had a MyCuntRocks necklace.... which is odd, cause i've been here before....

Amber said...

I LOVE mail too! I'm currently pen pals with my 10 yr old sister-in-law. (I had to lower my expectations and learned a little about guinea pigs but it's all good) I love sending unexpected presents to my adult friends too! Oh pick me, pick me!

Tori said...

When I moved away from my best friend Tasha 10 years ago the two of us became great pen pals. We talked on the phone constantly, but it never failed that I would recieve a letter from her every week and vise versa. I have a shoe box full of her letters and every once in a while I will pull them out and read them all over again. Its one of my guilty pleasures. And even though I'm reading them so many years from when they were written I can still remember my responses. Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only girl with this addiction!

mylittlebecky said...

Oooo! Ooo! i want mail! i love mail but lately i've been reduced to packages filled with things i bought. sighhhhh.

amandam38 said...

I would love to receive something fabolous from you!!

Judearoo said...

Aw yay! That sounds wonderful, Al!

I so get you on the letter writing thing. But here I think its actualy starting to come back a little. I tweeted about not being able to find nice writing paper - or at least something that wasn't bloody Hello Kitty - and found out that there are amazing shops in the city that sell esquisite stationary. Joy!

A letter is a beautiful thing and hand writing so very personal. I've a friend you moved to Sydney a year ago and though we skype and email we always make an effort to actually write and post long rambling letters to one another. She does worse than I in this arrangement as my handwriting isn't the best but still.

On a side note I cannot imagine anyone not wanting the experience of their names in your bra. There's a thought!

Gwen said...

Oooh! I want my name in your bra! Pick me!

rubbish said...

When I was a kid my Mum would always read any mail which was destined for me. Don't know why. Now, my darling Wife opens all my mail for some unknown reason. Really gets on my tits. Whenever I have a go at her about it she just rolls her eyes and gives me a "whatever", as if it's my problem. Of course, my Daughter now does exactly the same thing, the whatever not opening my mail.

JUST ME said...

I LOVE care packages!! Send me anything you want...as long as it's not going to bite me when I open the package.

I still make my mom send them to me whenever I can. She packs the best ones...which usually include shit I need like underwear and candy.

Nicole said...

I too have a shoe box or 3 of letters of the past. I don't think that I will ever part with them. And funny, I've never thought of the letters I sent out once upon a time. I wonder if they still exist...

Shruthi said...

Here from MLS. Great piece!

Venom said...

Count me among those who love to receive letters, real letters, not junk mail that I throw into the burning barrel.
I had some letters waiting to go on the table the other day, my daughter's friend commented on "what gorgeous handwriting you have!" I think she was so impressed because her generation is no longer required to learn cursive writing; so depressing to know it will likely become obsolete.
Put me in your bra too kiddo!

hiphophippie.com said...

There's not much better than getting good mail. I'm like a teenage boy with sex--I always have to remind myself to slow down or else I just blow right through it in a few seconds.

Lola Lakely said...

Well, why would I want it if it's not your underwear? Really? What better mail could I possibly receive.

I love this post and I LOVE YOU!

thestuffinbetween said...

I could use a good win of something even if it has to be swished in a bra! Seriously? ;-)

Maryx said...

I love this! Ooooohhh I also enjoyed mail A LOT!! Don't get anything 'important' anymore though, just bills and what nots.. haha!

meredithblumoff said...

i was never ballsy enough to be that bad -- but my love for the mailbox might just rival yours.

steff said...

i TOTALLY miss getting letters in the mail. brightly colored envelopes. stickers adorning specially chosen stationary. photos enclosed in the folds of the paper. HANDWRITING.
christ. technology is great and all but the way i feel about physically getting a letter or a care package in the mail rivals only my love for listening to music on vinyl.
i love my iPod and all but there's just something about holding and even SMELLING an actual album and it's liner notes, listening to it scratch and skip on the turntable that an MP3 file can never replace.
when i was a kid, probably about 10 or so, i went so far as to tie a letter to a helium balloon in the hopes someone might find me and respond. this was only after I found a balloon with a letter inside it near the highway by my house.
email is easy. too easy. i will totally be your penpal. if you want.

Living Shallow, Living Well said...

Seems like there was always the one neighborhood kid that would put firecrackers in mailboxes and piss the whole neighborhood off.

Vanilla said...

"dotting my i’s with hearts."

This needs to be resurrected but with obscure symbology, like dotting your i's with an ankh, you might end up working for Prince.

"and I do not have a habit of sending strangers my underwear"

Its more of a special occasion thing then?

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

I don't even know what to do with real mail anymore when I get it. I can't throw it away, so it sits, propped up on display, like an artifact on my shelf. If you rig it so I win your contest, I mean if I win your contest, I'll send you something back, with a letter, if I can remember how to hold a pen.