2003-07-18 2:03 p.m.
Every day—sometimes twice a day—I descend the three flights of stairs to check my mail box at work.
I fly by the receptionist, Elizabeth. She knows I am going to check my mail. Or, I assume she knows. I mean, I do it every day—sometimes twice a day. Plus, she knows there is nothing else beyond those plain white double doors that would interest me save for that neat grid of cream colored mailbox doors.
My bubbling eagerness is greater on some days than others—like the days when I am expecting a package from a friend or something I bought off the internet. Every once in a great while I get a letter from one of my readers—thank you cards for horse testicle pictures, a funny little present, or the very occasional naked picture. Those are slices of sunshine for me on my cold, lonely mornings in the corporate murk.
Unfortunately, most of my mail seems to be impersonal, computer–generated letters from people who want some of my money. I don't blame the computers or their masters—they're just doing their jobs.
The truth is that every day when I visit the mailboxes—which, as I mentioned is sometimes twice a day—I secretly hope that peeking out between stacks of painfully uninteresting engineering journals (addressed to my work colleagues) and bills (addressed to me) that there might be a love letter waiting for me, physical proof that some person somewhere wanted to put pen to paper and tell me that I am wonderful or smell especially nice or whatever it is that gets written in love letters.
I walk back through the lobby with handfuls of envelopes. Elizabeth—half curious and half bored of the lonely receptionist monotony—asks if I got anything good. She smiles when she asks—she doesn't know it, but her smile is a caricature of a perfect smile. I would hire anyone with a smile like hers to do anything and pay them well. But that is not the point.
Anyway, just like every other day, I walk over and lean on her desk. On most days I flip through the envelopes and frown. "No love letters." She has come to expect this, and now she just comes out and asks if I got any love letters, since she knows that is all I seem to care about.
But today was amazingly un–like every other day. Between a bank statement (mine) and a copy of Engineering Boredom Quarterly for People Who Care (not mine) hid a hand–addressed envelope with my name on it. I slid my index finger (the poor–man's letter opener) under the flap and tore it open. Inside was a white piece of paper folded three times bearing three large words: I LOVE YOU.
I imagine that at this moment I had a lot in common with groups of devout religious followers around the world, all eagerly awaiting a messiah. Like them, I was full of a childlike and almost explosive anticipation. And, also like them, I really had no idea what the hell I would do if and when the magical moment would present itself. But, luckily I know how to fake it like a fucking pro.
I walked out to Elizabeth and held the paper up so she could clearly read it, a smug grin on my face. "My love letter came."
And then, I did what I imagine any devout follower whose messiah just showed up would do. I paused. I looked around nonchalantly. Then I asked, from behind a devilish smile dripping with smugness, "Oh, hm, where is yours?"
There was nothing much more to say, so I walked the three flights back to my office. I felt like I was ascending into my own little piece of heaven, effortlessly elevating upwards on bouncy clouds made of I love you letters.
Lydia thought I was being silly for not including my mailing address:
Justin John Winokur
554 Ellery Street
San Jose, CA 95127-1412
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