Sending the Letters: not as easy as it looksBy the time I had amassed what I called a "batch" of letters (200 or so), I began to get irritated with myself for not having actually sent some. "It's one thing to write a letter, but entirely another for it to be read by someone other than yourself." Somebody said that.
I longed to see my penmanship on TV; to hear Dave's voice on the other end of a phone begging me to come to New York; to become America's foremost behind-the-scenes funnyman; to have so many women I can't remember where I left my car keys. Ah yes.
But the actual execution of this master plan - that's where the trouble came. Every day after work, I'd come home and say, "I'm going to mail the letters tonight." I'd get them together, address them, affix the stamps, line them all up in a row by the door, and then Vanna would come on. At first I'd say to myself, "Oh, I'll just watch The Wheel and then I'm out the door." But each night the same ritual: come home, ready the letters, get distracted by the TV, and at about 12:30, retire exhaustedly. And here's the irony: I'd only go to bed after having watched Letterman. I loved the show, but I'd punish myself throughout the whole episode. "Why couldn't you just mail the letters? Is it so hard? You've wasted another day, and Dave is one day closer to losing his show due to a momentary drop in the ratings. When are you going to get off your butt and start living your life??!!!"
Well, I never did. Get off my butt, that is. To tell you the truth, I never did get around to mailing even one of these letters to Dave. Not one. My stubborn inaction led me into deep depression and anger, and not a small bit of jealousy aimed at the postal service. I don't understand it. But I've made attempts.
Some Explanations For Why I didn't Send(They're just theories, mind you, but they feel right to me):
- Once I dreamed Hal Gurnee was stalking me and making the "Go-To-Commercial" gesture with a ferret
- I was upset at the '72 election results
- An article I'd read claimed a connection between writing to celebrities and erosion of our nation's topsoil
- I thought if I didn't write I could impress Jodie Foster
- I'd heard about overworked postal employees, and didn't want to exacerbate the problem
- The ongoing debate: lick the envelopes or buy a sponge
- I did send a few, but dropped them into the fake mailbox I'd set up for April Fools Day
- I kept waiting for the issue of the Burt Reynolds Memorial stamp
(I prefer the younger Burt)
- My failure to shape the letters into origami Daves
- I spent a month mourning the MacGuyver cancellation
- Three words: papercuts
- there was another reason
- and another one here
- I'll think of them
What I Did InsteadSurprisingly, I found many activities worthy of pursuit when my other option involved a trip to the mailbox. Here were a few of my favorites (add your own):
- Organizing everything I own by smell, in case of a blackout
- Patching and re-elasticing my underwear
- Grooming my carpet with a comb, for that just from the barber look
- "The Fight of the Century": Mr. Potatohead® vs. a Barbie® I found
- Trying to break the Guinness record for Most Whipped Cream-Filled Room
- Learning to bowl with my feet, like the Flintstones®
- Labeling the street signs, for ease of use
- Painting pictures of soup cans and hand-tinting photos of Chairman Mao
- Establishing the Pee Wee Herman clinic
- Promoting the Barney® character to children nationwide
- Redesigning the American government in my mind, then putting it all back
- Calling the Chicago Bears' front office, demanding to be traded
- Scotchguarding® my teeth
(Fine. Laugh at me in 10 years, when you're still getting checkups)
- Wallowing in apathy
Times I Got Close to SendingDon't get me wrong. I wasn't just lazy. I thought about sending lots of times - almost incessantly - and I came really close to actually doing it on a few occasions. I kept a log of my attempts to show to nonbelievers.
- January 14, 1988:
- I am out running an errand, and see a mailbox. Thinking to myself that now would be an opportune moment to retrieve the letters and mail them, I head back to my car. Then I see an expresso shop.
- June 29, 1989:
- While on vacation in California (coincidentally to see the Grand Canyon which Dave had so raved about), I spy a mail truck stopped at a red light. I rummage through my bag, and hand the driver a stack of 16 letters, just as the light turns green. He stops long enough to give me a complimentary snowcone and then pulls away, his truck jingling a happy tune.
- August 6, 1991:
- A neighbor boy is going door-to-door soliciting odd jobs for a quarter. I tell him I'll give him $5 to take all my letters to the mailbox. Just then, my arch enemy/hallmate Ted comes out and gives him $20 not to talk to me. I spend the next week hammering nails into our connecting wall at midnight.
- March 2, 1992:
- I am feigning illness so as to avoid the annual after-Christmas party at work. I am half-sleeping to Oprah, and I hear some rustling outside the door. "The mailman!" I cry, and rush to grab my letter stack. At that moment, a freak flash of lightning activates my remote control Ford Taurus Wagon® toy. As it trips me up and my head hits the bannister, I get the strange feeling that this is as close to sending as I'll ever get. I savor the moment briefly, and then pass into unconsciousness.
- February 28, 1993:
- My last-ditch effort. Clutching the letters in my hand, I don a pair of roller skates and tie a giant rocket (purchased from a catalog) to my back. I open the door, point myself toward the open elevator, and light the fuse. At 110 mph, I smash into what I thought was an open elevator. The illusions you can create with paint...
Here's an article clipped from the Ann Arbor Gazette
(I thought I was the only sufferer):
Non-Senders Take Heart:
New Research Shows It's Not Your Fault
"If your friends and relatives have been after you lately to mail them last Christmas' cards and letters, you may be suffering from more than simple procrastination. A study published by the University of Northern Montana last Friday reports that there may be a biological link to the problem.
"Written-media-mailing-avoidance pathology, or non-sending, is a syndrome which affects nearly two of every one-and-a-half persons in the U.S. The syndrome is characterized by late bill paying, purchased - but unsent - belated birthday cards, and unprovoked anger at the mention of the word "mailtime". This malady, while not fatal, can seriously affect the self-esteem and sweepstakes chances of its sufferers.
"But the afflicted may soon be relieved. The Montana study, funded partly by the US Postal Service, found that respondents who ate one lentil 24 hours prior to the desired sending time were fully capable of sending, while those who ate jelly beans or similarly shaped foods were not. (A caution, however. The study also showed that eating two or more of the beans reversed the effect, rendering subjects not only incapable of sending mail but also of receiving it.)
"It appears that lentils contain a substance similar to Anti-kryptonite (Kryptonite is a mineral found in postal mailboxes, and has been known to repulse even the strong-willed). When taking the single lentil orally, the evil effects of the mailbox are rendered impotent, and the afflicted person can send to their heart's content.
"The study's coordinators are careful to point out that this is just one experiment, and thus the findings cannot be considered as fact. For instance, another study done later that same day totally refuted these findings, and found pencil balloons to be a cure instead. Other research projects in Utah, Oklahoma, and New Jersey have yielded such potential remedies as taping one nostril shut, thinking of a warm bath, and drinking eggs. It remains to be seen which, if any, of these cures will prove true. For now, the best advice seems to be "Send things, you loser.""
Once I found out that my situation was not unique, I did some research. I present the information below in the modest hope that it may bring relief to some of you out there.
We are not alone: The Statistics of Non-Sending
- In 1991, more people didn't send letters than didn't attend circuses, worldwide
- People who don't send also generally do not floss, or weed-whack
- A Harris poll suggests that many people do not know what a Harris poll is
- 3 out of 4 doctors surveyed said they'd never received a letter from a non-sender
- Non-sending may be hereditary. If you forget to send Dad a Father's Day card three years running, statistics show he'll forget to send you a dime for tuition.
- The reported causes of non-sending can be broken down as follows:
- 20% of non-sending is due to soreness
- 16% can be attributed to the lack of moving sidewalks leading to mailboxes
- 4% is associated with the similarity between the words "mail" and "pail"
- The rest seems correlated with a large stone in a Tennessee farmer's field
Resources to help:
- Meditations for Non-senders by Shakti Damunanda, and her other selves.
- Prohibition of Bedwetting in Childhood as a Precursor to Non-sending by Jerold Hennessey, © 1988 Wee Wee Press.
- How to Build Your Own Mail Catapult for Under $20 (anonymous).
- Come and Get It: Ways to Trick Your Mail Carrier into Picking up Your Mail by Lester Morgana and Dawn, ©1985.
- I'm a Taxpayer, Goddamit! Why We Shouldn't Have to Trick Mail Carriers into Picking Up Our Mail by Abe Vigoda ©1992
- Helping You Mail (a free brochure from the federal government. To receive a copy, write to "Mail", P.O. Box 224, Washington, D.C.)
- The Dance of Non-Sending (available at new age bookstores and postal stations)
- The Postman Always Rings Twice
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
- Yentl, the screenplay
or back to the table of contents
© 1993-1995 John Cady and the Lounge Life Press