The Lost Art of a Love Letter
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 16:05
I am sorry that I did not introduce myself sooner, I just lost track of time. These quarters go by fast. But in case you are not going to be in one of my classes next quarter, I wanted to give you this message. I would love if you joined me for coffee or tea sometime? I think you have a radiant smile and I would like to get to know you. I would ask you in person, but I did not want to add stress for you on an already stressful morning . . .
My friend’s blog featured a picture of this letter given to one of her friends after a class. It was a rightly-saturated photo with the rest of the neatly written text, which was cut off, barely peaking over the bottom of the frame. I’ll admit that I didn’t finish reading it the first time; but the second I saw “radiant smile,” my face ended up in my hands in embarrassment. Not for me, for him.
Love letters are somewhat of an anomaly these days. He obviously had to be some sort of fool to take out the piece of paper believing that “radiant smile” would actually work, right? He had to have some sort of blind optimism to put down words on paper and dedicate it to a, presumably, complete stranger. Imagine yourself sitting there, staring at the blank page contemplating your fate in the words you choose.
You pull out a piece of paper, forgoing the use of spottedonthebeach.com, or Facebook, or any other website behind which would have been more socially acceptable to hide. Her best friend’s voice goes off in the back of your head, telling her what a creep you are for the ominous letter with that awkwardly placed “radiant smile”.
At that point, you question whether or not you should write a letter. You might as well bring her to family dinner next Sunday. You’ll go, “Hey everyone, this is [insert name here], my ‘friend.’” Your family will accept her like she’s their own and hound you about bringing her back next week.
Then you actually have to ignore any inclination of talking to her because I guess it’s too stressful for both of you. So then you have to plan out how you’re going to drop the letter off. You wait at the other end of the room after the teacher dismisses you, waiting as she puts her stuff away. As she puts the last folder into her bag, you swoop in and slip the note onto her desk and bump the door as you rush out.
At least, that’s how I think it went.
But I’ll admit, after reading it over a few more times, I ended up rooting for the guy. I’d love to admit that I would ask a girl to coffee this way, but I wouldn’t. I’d say that I didn’t think he was a complete creep the first time I read this, but I’d be a damn dirty liar.
Do I think he should have just walked up to her and talked to her? Of course. But I give this guy credit. After all, the preservation of blind, foolish optimism is something that I can’t be against and kind of admire. The only thing that he proved to me is that love letters are now unconventional, a throwback to the modern, sexier versions of communication; you know, Facebook, text message, and the ever pathetic email. Versions of the love letter still exist when you sit in front of your computer composing a mixed CD (Am I right John Cusack from “High Fidelity”?). To let go of the love letter would be letting go of the long-standing tradition that dates back to a time when a pen, ink, and enough inspiration was all that someone needed to show how they felt; when sentimentality was embraced, not rejected.
If anything, a well-written letter with meaningful sentiment is better than a sloppily-made, two-minute-long, drunken message left on her voicemail.
Believe me, I would know.