Tag Archives: letters

The letter that started it all

First of all let me begin by stating that Hot and Stupid was created as my solo post in recognition of Valentine’s Day.

I do not get amped over the Holiday.  It’s one of those non-essential days and besides, Cupid is stupid.  I guess I’m atypical of most females.  Chalk it up to my parents.  My dad drilled two main themes into my head:

  1. Education, Education, Education
  2. Be self-sufficient depending upon no man

And my mom?  I believe you know her well. 

My mom, the poster child

So I’m not really genetically programmed for Valentine’s Day.  Don’t get me wrong.  If my hubby brings home flowers or fattening chocolate I will receive the goodies with appreciation but I don’t NEED them.  I certainly would not string the boy up or super glue certain body parts if he didn’t get me anything.  I’m secure enough in myself and our relationship that I don’t require a day on the calendar to let me know that I am divine.

That being said, I decided to post something in the spirit of love.  This is dedicated to my kids, who never tire of hearing the story…our story…the story of how two people, worlds apart came to be.  Stay with me as I set it up.  I guarantee it will be worth the read and totally unique.

I was in college and had trudged through my share of swamps and met every croaking man frog.  They were slimy and disappointing.  However, my family believed I was just “too picky.”  This belief changed after Rosie, my poster mom, had an encounter with one of the better frogs while moving me back into the college dorm.

It was a hot day with 150% humidity.  We were oozing sweat as we heaved my luggage out of the vehicle.  The frog spotted my car and cruised over in his sporty red convertible.  Sitting side-saddle with his shades sliding down the bridge of his nose, he smiled a crooked smile and watched us suffer.

I looked up and with winded breath replied “Hi, what’cha doing?”

He intentionally paused, smiled then s l o w l y  said,  while bobbing his head in a circular motion,

“I’ m   j u s t   c h e c k i n g    y o o o u    o u t!!”

My mom, who was created with jalapeno seeds, not sperm, whipped around and hissed “How about checking these bags out!”

I was no longer too picky.

That night in frustration I asked:   “Ahem,  God? Is this the best’ya  got?   In the entire creation of men?”

Silence.

The next morning in my mailbox was a letter from an unknown person bearing the name Donnie.

A few months before the letter:

Desert Storm/Shield was in full swing.  A local newspaper published an article encouraging civilians to write letters of support to the soldiers.  A group of us in the dorm got together, picked out a random, unknown address and wrote generic letters of support.  I casually chucked my letter in the mail the next day and never gave it a second thought.  

As with most letters mailed, this one contained my return address.  What I did not realize was that the Military instructed the soldiers to “sterilize” or dispose of any identifying information.   The reason was simple.  If the enemy should obtain the information a mail bomb or act of terror could be performed.  The soldier I wrote to tore off my return address and buried it in the sand to sterilize my address (um, thanks?)

My husband  was in the 82nd Airborne during the time.  His company was on the front lines progressing through the desert.  After a long day of marching, his commanding officer gave the orders to stop and “dig in” for the night.  They slept in man-made fox holes.  He dumped his gear and began the physical task of digging as he had done many times before.  However, during this dig he noticed something peculiar.  There in the sand, was a small piece of neon pink paper.  Curiosity outweighed the fatigue that was attacking his body.  He bent down and picked up the piece of paper.  What he found was a return address…my return address that the other soldier had buried in the exact spot where my husband chose for his fox hole!!  It is unknown how many days or weeks it had been there.  He immediately knew what it was and why it was there.  He paused briefly before stuffing my address into his pocket.  He would decide later what to do with it.

Later came when he was coming off of 24 hour guard duty.  Feeling wired from an adrenaline rush occurring due to a perimeter breech he (yes, he is Donnie) decided to write me a letter.  He was a fantastic writer.  His letter was entertaining and explained how he came to obtain my address.  I smiled as he wrote “If you’re married or have a boyfriend then fold this letter lengthwise and burn it…”   We began writing and continued to do so for the next 9 months.  The letters were rather platonic but there was a bond developing between us. 

Upon his return to the states we met face to face.  The meeting was awkward in the sense that I had to take the personality of the person in the letter and apply it to the physical form standing before me.  The awkwardness lasted for all of a few minutes and after several meetings, we began a long distance relationship because of his location in Fort Bragg NC.

In 1993, three years after meeting “in the sand,” we said I DO and 17 years and three kids later, we are still doing.  So yes, a thank-you is in order to the unknown soldier for burying my identity in the desert sand!

Our local news covered the wedding and an artist drew the following picture for us.

A local artist drew a banner...see what is in the sand?

 

The letter – only it was just the return address, not the entire envelope

 From the Philippines to America to the sands of Saudia Arabia….the journey that one man had to make and I am very thankful he did!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For personality jolt, shock once.

Here’s the scenario:  I was at the dreaded Post Office standing in a line formed from the pits of Hades.  There were two veteran clerks manning the desk and moving things along at the speed of molasses.  Ever so slowly, they would call the next person in line by stating their monotone and rehearsed “I caaan help the neexxt person in liiinnne….” I stood and watched this happen over and over again.  It was amazing how they could execute this routine without even a twitch of life evident in their dead, emotionless faces.  But I guess that’s it right? The routine kills them. Each person that approached the counter met the same cold stare and flat questions about delivery confirmation and postage products which continued throughout the transaction….and transaction…and transaction!

Sigh.  I should have know better than to think I could make a QUICK stop at this place.  Anyhow, while fidgeting in line I glanced up and recognized someone I knew two people ahead of me. I extended my greetings and engaged in brief small talk.

The summons game to the individual I knew and he approached the counter.  Now what I need to inform you is that others may know him too because he used to play professional ball in this area.   As soon as his physical mass hit the counter the clerk suddenly sprang to life-like he took a ZAP from an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). 

For personality jolt, shock once.

He excitedly chirped “Well, Hello [insert name]!  It’s nice to see you.  How were your Holidays? Did they treat you alright?”

Whoa, whoa, WHOA!  A personal greeting and THREE emotion filled questions in a row?  Three questions not related to postage stamps or postage products? The individual answered the questions and they had a nice dialogue filled with smiles and laughter. 

OOOkaaay.  I’d like to give the clerk the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he suddenly woke up or something.  Maybe he doesn’t come alive until the 100th customer of the day.  Maybe his body just processed the food from lunch and jolted him with a whopping dose of sugar. 

Soon it would be my turn.  I quickly glanced at myself because my daughter frequently accuses me of sporting a perfected homeless look.  Hey, I have to dress up so many days of the week that when I have the opportunity to don the frayed jeans (the bigger the holes, the better) T-shirt and tennis shoes I do so with pride. 

Not me but it's my comfortable look!

I know that homeless people can look unwelcoming to some and did not want to appear scary for this experiment.  But I’m happy to say that, this time I dressed professionally.

The female clerk called the person ahead of me which left me with Mr. Suddenly Come Alive.  I heard him say “I caaan help the neeexxt person in liiinne.”  I walked to the counter and smiled a warm friendly smile, not too overdone or it becomes downright creepy.  I handed him my two envelopes for international mailing and requested a book of stamps.  He stared back at me with that blank stare void of emotion and asked flatly about the need for delivery confirmation or additional postage products.  I waited for some spark of the personality that he demonstrated minutes before.  Nada, Nothing.  Apparently Mr. Come Alive has returned to the land of the living dead.  He flatlined.  I think we need to bring back the human AED to his counter!

So why am I writing about this?  Do I care about the preferential personality and small talk from Mr. Come Alive?  Nope.  Not particularly.  But here is the deal.  It is human nature to segregate individuals.  We judge, measure, rate, class and treat people according to these categories which, are 99.9% of the time external or performance oriented deductions.  The Post Office scene was a vivid example on a minor scale.  However, I realized as I watched the episode play out that I don’t want to act like that.  I don’t want the natural tendencies of our culture to become my normal.  I want to warmly welcome all.  Each encounter I have with people should reflect sincerity and fairness to all – not just toward those whom society deems worthy. 

So here is my challenge:  We all judge and behave accordingly.  We need to….

S T O P.  

Let’s see if we can go an entire week without judging or treating people how we think they should be treated based on notoriety or external assumptions.  Let me know how it goes!  As you begin to stop the cycle you’ll be amazed how many Post Office scenario scenes you will witness!