While technology makes written communication easier and faster than ever before, nothing can replace the intimacy of hand-delivered mail. Yep, the real thing straight from the United States Postal service is unparallel to e-mail, text messages or even smoke signals.
Come rain or shine, our letter carrier never fails to stuff our mailbox with exciting items such as greeting cards from insurance companies, coupons from hardware stores and campaign literature from folks with political ambition. OK, the latter ain't exactly representative of literary classics such as "Grapes of Wrath" or "Little Women." But, well-written election propaganda does resemble a fabulous mud-slinging abridged version of "War and Peace."
With anticipation, I await the daily arrival of my snail mail. The thought of getting junk with a personal touch is the highlight of my day.
Ditto for my companion. "What did the mailman bring us today?" he eagerly asked yesterday.
"I got a therapy bill and a lifetime opportunity from the marketing director of Startouch magazine. You got a summons for jury duty."
"You can keep the bill. But¸ I'll trade you my jury duty for the magazine pitch letter."
His enthusiasm inspired me to rip open that letter to learn why the marketing director decided to be my pen pal. The word "free" dressed in bold letters seemed to tap dance across the page just above this stranger's salutation of "Dear Friend."
She hooked me with "friend." So, I read on. She wasn't just a marketing guru. She was a mind reader. Her practical prose got right to the point. Her first sentence revealed I had a hectic life and I deserved more than a few fleeting moments of leisure time. I could not contain my excitement.
"Honey, the Startouch marketing director wants to help me melt away my stress. She wants to treat me to the relaxation remedy I need."
"Beware," my skeptical supporter insisted. "If she were a licensed therapist, she wouldn't be writing sales pitches."
"She's giving me a gift certificate for six issues of Startouch. This certificate entitles me to the perfect therapy for my mind, heart and soul."
"A magazine instead of therapy. Your medical insurance company probably hired her to write that letter."
Undaunted, I continued to cherish this opportunity for satisfaction. "My gift certificate also entitles me to steal moments with George Clooney and Patrick Dempsey over morning coffee. Would you be jealous if I accepted this offer?"
"Not at all," my companion said a little too enthusiastically. "While you're out with George and or Patrick, I can spend time alone with my soon-to-arrive mail-order bride."
"You're just jealous."
"Go. Have coffee with George. Just don't tell him where you hide your diamonds."
"What do you mean?" I inquired.
"While George lures you out of the house for lattes, he might send over his criminal companions from Oceans 13 through 27. George can't be trusted."
I ignored the cynicism and returned to my letter. In addition to caffeine connections with George and Patrick, I could curl up in my favorite armchair and spend blissful afternoons with old friends and new such as Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston.
"I doubt if Julia would like to be called old, although she might have a few years on Jennifer," I criticized. "Still, spending time with Julia would be fun."
Of course, my pal played devil's advocate. "I don't think so. Julia might be a steel magnolia, but she's also a runaway bride. Plus, she tried to foil her best friend's wedding. Julia can't be trusted."
"What about Patrick?"
"You don't stand a chance. Thanks to his role in 'Grey's Anatomy', Patrick has quite a reputation as Dr. McDreamy. He can walk into any room and hear women's hearts fluttering. He doesn't even need his stethoscope."
"What about Jennifer?" I questioned, expecting my companion to cast more rain on my parade.
"With Jen, it's friends forever. She can be trusted."
I interrupted this stimulating conversation to read more. The marketing director said if I like my six issues of Startouch, I can get 16 more for three easy payments of $13.14 each.
My budget-conscious buddy ruined the charm. "If you spent afternoons curled up in your armchair, you'd have to quit your day job. Then, you wouldn't earn a paycheck. So in order to make those easy payments, you'd have to steal more than moments from George and Patrick."
"But I'd be saving $2.19 an issue. That's a bargain."
"Well, since you put it like that!"
"Don't be sarcastic," I pleaded. "My letter states, and I quote, 'for best results, read all six free issues before making Startouch a weekly rejuvenation ritual.' "
"Go ahead and cash in your gift certificate."
"Do you really think I can put a price on therapy for my mind, heart and soul?" I queried.
"Well, $13.14 is $1.86 cheaper than the co-payment for your therapist. Besides, reading Startouch will give you something to do at night if I get on a jury panel and the judge has us sequestered."
Writer's note: The name of the magazine has been changed to protect the shameless. Some of the facts have been changed to protect the comedy.