Dear Lady Who Asked That Everyone Stop “Spashing” & Kicking So Much in The Pool,
I’ve waited too long to write you, and for that I am deeply sorry, you uncommonly splendid creature. It soothes my spirit to know that all this time we’ve been apart, you have been shielded by the armor of your bravery and valor. For yes, DLWATESSAKSMITP, Mother Nature gave you the Purple Heart for quotidian bravery. That Purple Heart is your mouth. A mark so distinct, from the moment one’s attention is drawn to it, one will be overcome by visions of your splendor.
I’ll never forget the first time I became aware of it: you screamed out with a plastic bag fixed plainly on your head “Stop spashing so much, everyone stop spashin and kickin so much”. All this time I’ve been weighed down by the shackles of making sure the words I spoke aloud included the correct sequence of letters commonly used to make that word in written form. I could have been free like you, DLWATESSAKSMITP? Unencumbered by convention, brave, true, and cloaked in plastic? You are the sweetest and most tender harbinger of liberation.
Aside from what you say, it is how you think that draws me to you most. Why, DLWATESSAKSMITP, why are people always “spashin and kickin’” so much in the pool? If the world was ours to make over again, if only! We’d stand atop a great mountain looking down on our creation, knowing we’d got all those spashers real good. But alas, the world is not ours to make again. So we can continue to live in the world we’ve constructed, where reason and logic are king and spashin and kickin are our Orthrus. Our two headed hell-hound guarding the door to the truly sinister.
You sustain me in my darkest hours, DLWATESSAKSMITP. Stay dry.
You are terrible, but I love you.

Dear Lady Who Asked That Everyone Stop “Spashing” & Kicking So Much in The Pool,

I’ve waited too long to write you, and for that I am deeply sorry, you uncommonly splendid creature. It soothes my spirit to know that all this time we’ve been apart, you have been shielded by the armor of your bravery and valor. For yes, DLWATESSAKSMITP, Mother Nature gave you the Purple Heart for quotidian bravery. That Purple Heart is your mouth. A mark so distinct, from the moment one’s attention is drawn to it, one will be overcome by visions of your splendor.

I’ll never forget the first time I became aware of it: you screamed out with a plastic bag fixed plainly on your head “Stop spashing so much, everyone stop spashin and kickin so much”. All this time I’ve been weighed down by the shackles of making sure the words I spoke aloud included the correct sequence of letters commonly used to make that word in written form. I could have been free like you, DLWATESSAKSMITP? Unencumbered by convention, brave, true, and cloaked in plastic? You are the sweetest and most tender harbinger of liberation.

Aside from what you say, it is how you think that draws me to you most. Why, DLWATESSAKSMITP, why are people always “spashin and kickin’” so much in the pool? If the world was ours to make over again, if only! We’d stand atop a great mountain looking down on our creation, knowing we’d got all those spashers real good. But alas, the world is not ours to make again. So we can continue to live in the world we’ve constructed, where reason and logic are king and spashin and kickin are our Orthrus. Our two headed hell-hound guarding the door to the truly sinister.

You sustain me in my darkest hours, DLWATESSAKSMITP. Stay dry.

You are terrible, but I love you.

Dear Acquaintance Who Brings Up The New York Times Book Review in Every Conversation We’ve Ever Had,
We two are the ebony and ivory keys of the grandest piano. Alone we are notable only for what we are not. But together? Why together we are limitless possibility manifest. The way you are able to guide conversations with such subtlety towards books and then to the reviews - always careful to point out those reviews were in the New York Times and to make it seem like you’ve actually read all the books reviewed - is a gift, and I its most welcome recipient. Like the cats of the loneliest spinster on Christmas morning, I am at once both unsurprised and overwhelmed by your generosity. 
There was this day many years ago that I picked up a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. I read slowly about the odd predicament of Billy Pilgrim. I quickly became bored and my mind gave way to a dialogue I am certain you too have had.
"I wonder if there is some way I can get someone else’s opinion on this?" I thought. Although I was relatively sure there was, I became disheartened and returned to reading and turning the pages of that book. Seven or eight minutes passed as if they were an eternity. 
"A fantastic snooze!" I thought. 
"Wait!" I exclaimed. "Is there a way that I can get someone else’s opinion on this, from a source that is branded as intellectual, and use a cursory familiarity with that person’s opinion to give transitive weight to my own thoughts when I’m speaking to relative strangers?"
There is indeed!!!! Oh AWBUTNYTBRIECWEH, what a fool I had been. I could have been charming people with references to book reviews all this time? Instead of reading actual dumdum books! Unwelcome folly. 
There are long stretches of time when I do not see you; those interminable weeks drive me mad with longing. Without you, Satan licks freshly at his evil chops, hoping I’ll pick up that copy of The Power Broker. Turn your eyes from the page AWBUTNYBRIECWEH, for I’ve a vile confession of my weakness: I’ve read a page or two (directly from books!) on the darkest of those days. I will share none of what I learned in conversation though, for I know not how The Review viewed it. Was it good? Was Robert Moses truly a racist?  Is that true about the bridges and buses? My shame overwhelms me, for I know not how we are supposed to view this work.
I am ashamed by my act but not of my love for you, AWBUTNYTBRIECWEH. As Pilgrim and Rosewater did with the novels of Kilgore Trout, I dream that you and I shall build a world for ourselves using only The Review as our guide. But perhaps is a forbidden reference, born out of my betrayal. 
You are terrible, but I love you.  

Dear Acquaintance Who Brings Up The New York Times Book Review in Every Conversation We’ve Ever Had,

We two are the ebony and ivory keys of the grandest piano. Alone we are notable only for what we are not. But together? Why together we are limitless possibility manifest. The way you are able to guide conversations with such subtlety towards books and then to the reviews - always careful to point out those reviews were in the New York Times and to make it seem like you’ve actually read all the books reviewed - is a gift, and I its most welcome recipient. Like the cats of the loneliest spinster on Christmas morning, I am at once both unsurprised and overwhelmed by your generosity. 

There was this day many years ago that I picked up a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. I read slowly about the odd predicament of Billy Pilgrim. I quickly became bored and my mind gave way to a dialogue I am certain you too have had.

"I wonder if there is some way I can get someone else’s opinion on this?" I thought. Although I was relatively sure there was, I became disheartened and returned to reading and turning the pages of that book. Seven or eight minutes passed as if they were an eternity. 

"A fantastic snooze!" I thought. 

"Wait!" I exclaimed. "Is there a way that I can get someone else’s opinion on this, from a source that is branded as intellectual, and use a cursory familiarity with that person’s opinion to give transitive weight to my own thoughts when I’m speaking to relative strangers?"

There is indeed!!!! Oh AWBUTNYTBRIECWEH, what a fool I had been. I could have been charming people with references to book reviews all this time? Instead of reading actual dumdum books! Unwelcome folly. 

There are long stretches of time when I do not see you; those interminable weeks drive me mad with longing. Without you, Satan licks freshly at his evil chops, hoping I’ll pick up that copy of The Power Broker. Turn your eyes from the page AWBUTNYBRIECWEH, for I’ve a vile confession of my weakness: I’ve read a page or two (directly from books!) on the darkest of those days. I will share none of what I learned in conversation though, for I know not how The Review viewed it. Was it good? Was Robert Moses truly a racist?  Is that true about the bridges and buses? My shame overwhelms me, for I know not how we are supposed to view this work.

I am ashamed by my act but not of my love for you, AWBUTNYTBRIECWEH. As Pilgrim and Rosewater did with the novels of Kilgore Trout, I dream that you and I shall build a world for ourselves using only The Review as our guide. But perhaps is a forbidden reference, born out of my betrayal. 

You are terrible, but I love you.  

Dear People Who Use the Words “Yup” and “Nope”, 
The best things in life truly are free! We’ve learned that together. In all candor, PWUTWYAN, the first time I met you I really wasn’t sure how to feel about you. I had taken the time to ask you a question using full words and completed thoughts and you responded simply “Yup”. I took a moment and thought, with that simple word I am hooked. I could hear St. Peter fumbling through his pockets, struck by the realization that someone else is now in the possession of the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Ours is one of those rare unions that gives credence to conventional wisdom - opposites do indeed attract!
Some time went by and we entered into the brief autumn of our love PWUTWYAN - it was then I approached you with another fully formed thought and you responded simply “nope”. I burst forth into a level of consciousness heretofore unknown to me. In that moment I realized what a shame it is that robust Native American populations do not persist - because your acknowledgment of my human spirit would move and rejuvenate them to be certain. 
Without you I am a rudderless vessel adrift on the open seas. The loons have returned and here we are on Golden Pond sweet PWUTWYAN, with nothing left to do but hold one another under blanket of our shared humanity (which we both so clearly recognize). 
You are terrible, but I love you. 

Dear People Who Use the Words “Yup” and “Nope”, 

The best things in life truly are free! We’ve learned that together. In all candor, PWUTWYAN, the first time I met you I really wasn’t sure how to feel about you. I had taken the time to ask you a question using full words and completed thoughts and you responded simply “Yup”. I took a moment and thought, with that simple word I am hooked. I could hear St. Peter fumbling through his pockets, struck by the realization that someone else is now in the possession of the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Ours is one of those rare unions that gives credence to conventional wisdom - opposites do indeed attract!

Some time went by and we entered into the brief autumn of our love PWUTWYAN - it was then I approached you with another fully formed thought and you responded simply “nope”. I burst forth into a level of consciousness heretofore unknown to me. In that moment I realized what a shame it is that robust Native American populations do not persist - because your acknowledgment of my human spirit would move and rejuvenate them to be certain. 

Without you I am a rudderless vessel adrift on the open seas. The loons have returned and here we are on Golden Pond sweet PWUTWYAN, with nothing left to do but hold one another under blanket of our shared humanity (which we both so clearly recognize). 

You are terrible, but I love you. 

Dear Late Nineties Classic Comedy “The Water Boy”, 
It has been over a decade since I first laid eyes on you. After I saw you, I threw out my Bible. When Kathy Bates told Adam Sandler he had no friends because he “lackd de social skillz”? After that, watching a baby take its first breath and open his eyes to see the world for the first time feels as banal as the opening of a chunk of Bazooka Joe. 
Ours is the most blessed of unions. Who else could join me with the miraculous moment where Kathy Bates screams ”You playin de foosball behind ma back?” J’accuse LNCCTWB! Rest easy though my love, for we have each other (and Henry Winkler!) and this too shall pass. I am warmest in the reflection of your quiet glow. 
I know LNCCTWB that not everyone can understand our love. We are the Platonic captives returning to our cave, our eyes corrupted by what we share. We are different than the rest now, you and I. How could we be the same oh LNCCTWB? We’ve crossed the Rubicon that is the return of a retarded father attempting to capitalize on his son’s unexpected success on “de ESPN”. I could never blame the outside world for not understanding what we share.  
Maybe, LNCCTWB, as your Colonel Sanders inspired professor queried, there is something wrong with Bobby Bouchet’s medulla oblongata. It’s no matter though. Off into the mid-afternoon we go, LNCCTWB, together as Bobby Bouchet did after his wedding, with no fear in our hearts. For Kathy Bates will tackle the obstacles that block our love, as she tackled googly-eyed Mr. Bouchet and cleared a path for Bobby to independence. 
You are terrible, but I love you. 

Dear Late Nineties Classic Comedy “The Water Boy”, 

It has been over a decade since I first laid eyes on you. After I saw you, I threw out my Bible. When Kathy Bates told Adam Sandler he had no friends because he “lackd de social skillz”? After that, watching a baby take its first breath and open his eyes to see the world for the first time feels as banal as the opening of a chunk of Bazooka Joe. 

Ours is the most blessed of unions. Who else could join me with the miraculous moment where Kathy Bates screams ”You playin de foosball behind ma back?” J’accuse LNCCTWB! Rest easy though my love, for we have each other (and Henry Winkler!) and this too shall pass. I am warmest in the reflection of your quiet glow. 

I know LNCCTWB that not everyone can understand our love. We are the Platonic captives returning to our cave, our eyes corrupted by what we share. We are different than the rest now, you and I. How could we be the same oh LNCCTWB? We’ve crossed the Rubicon that is the return of a retarded father attempting to capitalize on his son’s unexpected success on “de ESPN”. I could never blame the outside world for not understanding what we share.  

Maybe, LNCCTWB, as your Colonel Sanders inspired professor queried, there is something wrong with Bobby Bouchet’s medulla oblongata. It’s no matter though. Off into the mid-afternoon we go, LNCCTWB, together as Bobby Bouchet did after his wedding, with no fear in our hearts. For Kathy Bates will tackle the obstacles that block our love, as she tackled googly-eyed Mr. Bouchet and cleared a path for Bobby to independence. 

You are terrible, but I love you. 

Dear Girl From my High School Who is Still Obsessed with The Smashing Pumpkins,
The World is indeed a vampire! Like so many lovesick fools before you, you soldier on through your twenties, convinced your collection of t-shirts emblazoned with the world “Zero” mark the zenith of subversion. Though, my seductress, I fear your tears only make My Chemical Romance stronger. Every pang of grief you feel for TSP cranks the dial of the proverbial radio blasting “Helena” louder and rips deeper still at the ever-fresh wound at the center of you tiny black heart. Time though, as we both know, is never time at all.
Oh, GFMHSWISOWTSP, to me you are a modern day Martin Luther nailing your theses on the supremacy of The Smashing Pumpkins to the digital church door that is Facebook. Your all caps update literally last week that read: “DESPITE ALL MY RAGE I AM STILL JUST A RAT IN A CAGE” weakened my knees and reignited the long dormant fury of angst for all who read it. A reminder of all of your many deep dimensions! For you, my incandescent beacon of hope, everyday is a 21st century Diet of Worms, as the papacy of time and reason excommunicate and condemn you.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light GFMHSWISOWTSP - for we both know, the more you change, the less you feel. Of that you are the greatest reminder of all. Your salvation is the Smashing Pumpkins, and mine you.
You are terrible, but I love you.

Dear Girl From my High School Who is Still Obsessed with The Smashing Pumpkins,

The World is indeed a vampire! Like so many lovesick fools before you, you soldier on through your twenties, convinced your collection of t-shirts emblazoned with the world “Zero” mark the zenith of subversion. Though, my seductress, I fear your tears only make My Chemical Romance stronger. Every pang of grief you feel for TSP cranks the dial of the proverbial radio blasting “Helena” louder and rips deeper still at the ever-fresh wound at the center of you tiny black heart. Time though, as we both know, is never time at all.

Oh, GFMHSWISOWTSP, to me you are a modern day Martin Luther nailing your theses on the supremacy of The Smashing Pumpkins to the digital church door that is Facebook. Your all caps update literally last week that read: “DESPITE ALL MY RAGE I AM STILL JUST A RAT IN A CAGE” weakened my knees and reignited the long dormant fury of angst for all who read it. A reminder of all of your many deep dimensions! For you, my incandescent beacon of hope, everyday is a 21st century Diet of Worms, as the papacy of time and reason excommunicate and condemn you.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light GFMHSWISOWTSP - for we both know, the more you change, the less you feel. Of that you are the greatest reminder of all. Your salvation is the Smashing Pumpkins, and mine you.

You are terrible, but I love you.

Dear Cab Driver from Woodside with Five Asian Wives, 
The gruff and taciturn cabbies that preceded you could never measure up to your brilliance; you knew exactly what to say when I was feeling rushed. I am truly blessed. It was as if, at the very moment when I needed it most, the whole force of the cosmos were summoned to my aid. That force was given a powerful voice in your stories of picking up oh so many whores underneath the Queensborough Bridge.
I knew this, CDFWWFAW, was a singular moment in my life as soon as you told me you’d retire to an RV. Like a corpulent male Zooey Deschanel you enchanted me with stories of redeeming your childhood interest in geology by going to Seattle, to finally see that Volcano you think they might have there.  
But, CDFWWFAW, the great Fantasia of my emotions laid still until you began to tell of your past as the “Horny Housewife Helper”. The tales of your hiding nude on a massage parlor fire escape and taking kickbacks from pimps in exchange for providing your dispatcher with willing hookers for his card game, why, you are the link between the magisteria - the real and the divine overlapping as Stephen Jay Gould believed they never could. 
And as you walked me through the various “Asian mixes” you’d married and why the relationships fell apart, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because you, like all the truly great, live among us but are not of us. If you were like the rest of us, how could you say things like “Asian women don’t care about money, but they know how to” then repeatedly put your fist in and out of one of the empty parts of your steering wheel while smiling and winking. 
I understood what you were doing CDFWWFAW, but the depth of my understanding will remain as still as the water on a rural pond awaiting the mighty rock of your casual racism to send ripples anew across my inviting mind. 
When we parted, you reminded me where I could get a happy ending, not realizing that this, sweet CDFWWFAW, was just the beginning.
You are terrible, but I love you. 

Dear Cab Driver from Woodside with Five Asian Wives, 

The gruff and taciturn cabbies that preceded you could never measure up to your brilliance; you knew exactly what to say when I was feeling rushed. I am truly blessed. It was as if, at the very moment when I needed it most, the whole force of the cosmos were summoned to my aid. That force was given a powerful voice in your stories of picking up oh so many whores underneath the Queensborough Bridge.

I knew this, CDFWWFAW, was a singular moment in my life as soon as you told me you’d retire to an RV. Like a corpulent male Zooey Deschanel you enchanted me with stories of redeeming your childhood interest in geology by going to Seattle, to finally see that Volcano you think they might have there.  

But, CDFWWFAW, the great Fantasia of my emotions laid still until you began to tell of your past as the “Horny Housewife Helper”. The tales of your hiding nude on a massage parlor fire escape and taking kickbacks from pimps in exchange for providing your dispatcher with willing hookers for his card game, why, you are the link between the magisteria - the real and the divine overlapping as Stephen Jay Gould believed they never could. 

And as you walked me through the various “Asian mixes” you’d married and why the relationships fell apart, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because you, like all the truly great, live among us but are not of us. If you were like the rest of us, how could you say things like “Asian women don’t care about money, but they know how to” then repeatedly put your fist in and out of one of the empty parts of your steering wheel while smiling and winking. 

I understood what you were doing CDFWWFAW, but the depth of my understanding will remain as still as the water on a rural pond awaiting the mighty rock of your casual racism to send ripples anew across my inviting mind. 

When we parted, you reminded me where I could get a happy ending, not realizing that this, sweet CDFWWFAW, was just the beginning.

You are terrible, but I love you. 

Dearest Morbidly Obese Man Who Sat on My Hand and Headphones at The Gym,
It’s so strange to think that before yesterday I’d never laid eyes upon your heffalumpy visage, for it is now forever emblazoned on my consciousness. You are the reason music exists. 
One day, I do hope one day soon, an inquisitive soul will ask, “Sir, what is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?” I will spread the Gospel you have spoken to me: 
Me: One day, at the outset of his New Year’s resolution a morbidly obese man grew weary of supporting his mighty frame and sat down on a gym bench in the locker room.
Inquisitive Soul (I.S.): But, sir, that doesn’t seem kind at all! That seems like an act anyone is capable of.
Me: Well, perhaps you’d think it kind if I told you that before he sat, he took no notice of my hand feverishly untangling my headphones. In this one act, I found my left hand (the one I use to write) and my headphones (which used to go inside my ears) wrapped in his pillowy New Year’s folds.
IS: Why that is kind! I’m glad to have stopped and taken a moment to enjoy this memory with you.
Me: Don’t leave just yet, Inquisitive Soul for I’ve greater kindness to reveal.
IS: I don’t believe it! The kindness you have revealed thus far has already caused a seismic shift in my view of all the world has to offer. I feel like I am in the happiest Dashboard Confessional song of all time.
Me: What if I were to tell you that when that Morbidly Obese Man sat on my hand, he had just pulled off his sweat shorts and was soaked in his own drippings? And kinder still, he didn’t mutter a word about his kind act. In fact, he did not acknowledge it at all. What charity!
IS: I believe you have met an angel, sir.
Me: I have.
So you see, Morbidly Obese Man Who Sat on My Hand and Headphones at The Gym, without even knowing it, you’ve changed so much. The memory of what we shared is more sweeping and bone chilling that the swell of a thousand violins. I will never forget you.
You are terrible, but I love you.

Dearest Morbidly Obese Man Who Sat on My Hand and Headphones at The Gym,

It’s so strange to think that before yesterday I’d never laid eyes upon your heffalumpy visage, for it is now forever emblazoned on my consciousness. You are the reason music exists. 

One day, I do hope one day soon, an inquisitive soul will ask, “Sir, what is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?” I will spread the Gospel you have spoken to me: 

Me: One day, at the outset of his New Year’s resolution a morbidly obese man grew weary of supporting his mighty frame and sat down on a gym bench in the locker room.

Inquisitive Soul (I.S.): But, sir, that doesn’t seem kind at all! That seems like an act anyone is capable of.

Me: Well, perhaps you’d think it kind if I told you that before he sat, he took no notice of my hand feverishly untangling my headphones. In this one act, I found my left hand (the one I use to write) and my headphones (which used to go inside my ears) wrapped in his pillowy New Year’s folds.

IS: Why that is kind! I’m glad to have stopped and taken a moment to enjoy this memory with you.

Me: Don’t leave just yet, Inquisitive Soul for I’ve greater kindness to reveal.

IS: I don’t believe it! The kindness you have revealed thus far has already caused a seismic shift in my view of all the world has to offer. I feel like I am in the happiest Dashboard Confessional song of all time.

Me: What if I were to tell you that when that Morbidly Obese Man sat on my hand, he had just pulled off his sweat shorts and was soaked in his own drippings? And kinder still, he didn’t mutter a word about his kind act. In fact, he did not acknowledge it at all. What charity!

IS: I believe you have met an angel, sir.

Me: I have.

So you see, Morbidly Obese Man Who Sat on My Hand and Headphones at The Gym, without even knowing it, you’ve changed so much. The memory of what we shared is more sweeping and bone chilling that the swell of a thousand violins. I will never forget you.

You are terrible, but I love you.

Dear Lady Who Yelled at The Deli Worker Making Your Breakfast,
You are magnificent. When I first saw you enter the deli, I never knew you’d be such an amazing person! That big orange jacket that made you look like an anthropomorphic cartoon sofa cushion with a head. The way you breathed in laborious spurts exclusively through your nose - how can any one human being be so lucky?
Lady Who Yelled at The Deli Worker Making Your Breakfast, I agree wholeheartedly that asking for Turkey Bacon by the initials T.B. instead of using the actual words was an amazing thing to do. It’s intuitive and thoughtful, to say the very least. The way you repeated the initials when it became clear the man making your breakfast didn’t understand what you meant, words escape me.
And the anger and hate you spewed when he didn’t understand you and you had to muster the courage to use the words Turkey Bacon? You are so brave. I don’t know how you do it. This one time, someone asked me to repeat myself because they didn’t understand me, and I became overwhelmed and collapsed into a pile of grief and despair. But you are a pillar of strength.
The beauty of that act is matched only by the volume of spittle that escaped your cracked lips as you barked at another human being. We didn’t even interact at all, but you made me believe in love.
You are terrible, but I love you.

Dear Lady Who Yelled at The Deli Worker Making Your Breakfast,

You are magnificent. When I first saw you enter the deli, I never knew you’d be such an amazing person! That big orange jacket that made you look like an anthropomorphic cartoon sofa cushion with a head. The way you breathed in laborious spurts exclusively through your nose - how can any one human being be so lucky?

Lady Who Yelled at The Deli Worker Making Your Breakfast, I agree wholeheartedly that asking for Turkey Bacon by the initials T.B. instead of using the actual words was an amazing thing to do. It’s intuitive and thoughtful, to say the very least. The way you repeated the initials when it became clear the man making your breakfast didn’t understand what you meant, words escape me.

And the anger and hate you spewed when he didn’t understand you and you had to muster the courage to use the words Turkey Bacon? You are so brave. I don’t know how you do it. This one time, someone asked me to repeat myself because they didn’t understand me, and I became overwhelmed and collapsed into a pile of grief and despair. But you are a pillar of strength.

The beauty of that act is matched only by the volume of spittle that escaped your cracked lips as you barked at another human being. We didn’t even interact at all, but you made me believe in love.

You are terrible, but I love you.