Friday, May 19, 2006

I hate writing letters.

Recently, a friend of mine had a stand-up special debut on Comedy Central. I wanted to give him a call and congratulate him (his name's Kyle Cease, catch his special if you can, he's absolutely hilarious), but it'd been probably a year and a half since I'd seen the guy, and it was always through a mutual friend, so I didn't have any current contact info for him. I mentioned this to the mutual friend through an IM conversation (as we are too evolved to use those primitive devices some people call "phones" anymore), and she suggested that I drop him a note on MySpace.

After taking a minute to recall that MySpace actually has uses beyond being a child molester dating service, I agreed that this was a wise decision, looked him up, and found myself staring at MySpace's message form. A blank form, waiting for me to fill it with some wonderful musings on how much I enjoyed my friend's show.

You'd think this would be simple; all I needed to say was "Hey, been a while! Great show! Congrats!" Very easy, straight to the point. Problem is, you can't write that. It's too short, it amounts to nothing! What the hell kind of letter would that be? Something that simple would work as a comment, maybe... it would work perfectly in conversation, as the other person would immediately fill in the blanks, and stretch it out. But as a letter, it's crap.

So I started writing. Along with the "hey, been a while," I listed off a bunch of places we'd hung out, just in case he didn't remember. Of course, then I'm thinking, "am I treating this guy like he's got Alzheimer's? Or like he's such a star now, I don't register anymore, being one of the little people? Or do I look like I'm trying to seem incredibly important?" To offset this possible insult, I crack a couple jokes. Yeah, that's great. Cracking jokes to a comedian. Like everybody and their mothers don't barrage him with dumbassed comments all the time, trying to be funny.

(and yes, grammarticians, I know I changed from past to present tense during that last bit, I also wipe after I pee, what's it to ya)

All right, next paragraph. The congrats. This part's easy... "saw your show, it was great, congrats!" Okay, that's done... but now, I've said all I have to say. I'm left with nothing. No leadout, no final statement, no conclusion to my original hypothesis... god, how anticlimactic.

So now I've gotta make something up. I could always go with the easy out... ask a question, force him to continue the conversation... "How are things with you?" Simple, saves the need for an ending... only problem is, he's on the road all the time, and probably has tons of people writing to him through MySpace. So it's kind of rude to finish that way, like I'm expecting him to reply, and will be insulted if he doesn't. Okay, that's out.

Maybe I should end with the friend request? Cause he is, technically, a friend. But then it's still a little weird, because this is an out of the blue letter, so I'm just ASSUMING the guy remembers me, much less even likes me as a human being. For all I know, he could write back with something like "if you ever contact me again, I'm going to shit in a bowl of oatmeal, and create shoatmeal, and then I'm gonna forcefeed the shoatmeal to your cat while I rape it, and then I'm gonna slowly run over the cat's corpse, cause it'll be dead by then, killed by rape and shoatmeal, I'm gonna slowly run over the corpse with a Big Wheel out of spite, cause I don't like you," and after that, a friend request is a little pointless. So scratch that one also.

Ultimately, I end the letter with my name. And that's it. Pathetic.

Maybe it's my own fault, my own need to embellish that makes it so difficult to write a simple congratulatory note. But really, if someone wrote you a note that said "way to go!" and that was it, wouldn't you feel like there was something missing? Some emphasis, some extra oomph lacking?

I think the problem is that I know in my soul what I have to say, and anything beyond that is simply bullshit. All I have in me is one, fully sincere, "Congratulations!" There's no need for more, and yet there is, because that doesn't translate in a note. But what does translate is a bunch of wordage that I don't have in me.

I have issues like this with other types of notes as well. Like when someone passes a birthday card around, for all to sign. No one wins in that situation. First off, unless some hilarious thing just happened like a half-hour before the card was passed that works as a decent inside joke, you've really got nothing to say but "happy birthday." Maybe in caps, followed by an exclamation point, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!," to prove that you REALLY mean it, that you're SINCERE. Or if you're feeling all Joe Cool about it, you can write "B-DAY." Cause you live life in the fastlane, and you don't have the time to write out those four extra letters.

Ultimately though, you need to write something, and you have to think of something to write, but you better make it quick, because OTHER PEOPLE NEED TO SIGN THE CARD! They're WAITING! And hold on, PUT AWAY THE CARD, THE BIRTHDAY BOY/GIRL MIGHT SEE IT! Because they haven't noticed people passing a pen around all night, or huddled in corners trying to keep something they're writing in away from his view, and they'll be completely surprised upon receiving this card.

It's like trying to pee with someone staring at your crotch, yelling "DO IT! HERE IT COMES! LET'S DO THIS!" at you through a megaphone. Slightly unnerving, to say the least. But you have to take some time, because you have to read EVERY OTHER COMMENT, and make sure yours is as good if not better than what everyone else wrote. Which is why one should always feel sorry for the first person who signed the card, as their comment will end up being paltry and insignificant compared to everyone elses. In fact, they're lucky to still be friends with the birthday person by the end of the evening.

The worst thing about that card, however, as it is with all cards, is the immediate redundancy it forces a person to be a part of. I mean, there's a very good chance that a birthday card will probably have the phrase "Happy Birthday!" printed on it somewhere, isn't there? Meaning that everyone who writes that phrase on the card is just repeating what's already been said.

But cards force you to do that, and it's very unfortunate. Like a "Get Well Soon" card, for instance. I don't know if I've ever seen a "Get Well Soon" card that didn't say "Get Well Soon" right on the front of it. And that pisses me off, because they've taken the only thing you want to say away from you. I mean, what's left? "Good luck to ya!" "Try not to cough anything up!" "Could be worse, you could be dead!"

All anyone wants to say with a "Get Well Soon" card is "get well soon," but not only do they take that away, then they leave a giant blank space inside the card, forcing you to embellish, forcing you to come up with something ridiculous that just ends up making you look like a tool. But it's either that or leaving the space blank, which makes you an even bigger tool.

I suppose I should write a final statement here, but as I'm under no moral obligation to do so on this, my own blog, I'll just wrap up with one final sentence:


Ahh. Now that's a satisfying conclusion.


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