“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.
1 week ago