Friday, October 31, 2008

A Letter to a Doctor

I haven't consulted a doctor in three years. Time to get a few things straightened out.

Chair - Andrew I. Schafer, M.D.
Weill Cornell Medical College
Department of Medicine
525 East 68th Street, Box 130
New York, NY 10065

Dear Dr. Schafer,

Lately I've had several questions about my growing body that I cannot find answers to. Unfortunately, I don't have health insurance, so I cannot speak with a doctor in the regular manner. Perhaps when President Obama makes everything free I can go get a check-up. In the meantime, would you mind steering me in the right direction? I know I can count on you because you teach people how to become doctors. You're like a thousand doctors all rolled up into one super-doctor.

First of all, I've always wondered, how does my body know what's up and what's down? My cells don't have eyeballs, so when they are growing into skin or bone or liver spots, how do they know which way to grow? Why don't I have hair growing down into my muscle and bones sticking out of my torso? Does my body have a sense of direction I'm not aware of? If I'm not mistaken, shouldn't every part of me be growing outward in every possible direction, resulting in an amalgam-ous blob of tissue and teeth? Is that what would happen if you raised a baby in outer space?

Second, I'd like to know how I can be sure that I'm seeing the right colors. Think about it. You don't know what I'm seeing with my eyes. What if my blue sky looked green to you? It would always look blue to me, because when I was a toddler my mother told me that the sky is what blue looks like – but it could look like my brown to her! Unless we can stick each others' eyes into our own sockets and go walking around awhile, how do we know we're all seeing the same colors? It's a total crapshoot! If you apply this brain twister to issues of race I think you could solve a lot of problems in this country.

Thirdly, I can see my girlfriend's eyeball right now, even though she's asleep next to me on the couch. It's terrifying. It's like staring into the eye of death, except death is breathing and twitching and jerking around whenever I make a loud noise. Is there anyway to keep her eyelids closed during sleep? I feel as though I'm living with some kind of corpse-robot. Something about it is very inhuman and unsettling. Like when you read about dead bodies moving in their coffins. Oh, God, it's looking at me now.

Anyway, thanks for anytime you can give to my questions. The human body is so amazing, and sometimes I just can't believe how complicated it can be. It's a good thing we have men like you researching and leading us into a healthier future. Oh no, it's looking at me again! I'm just going to wake her up.

Waiting Patiently,

The Correspondent

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Letter To the Former Mayor

Joe Kernan used to be the Mayor of the town I grew up in. I have held a small grudge against him for the last 18 years.

Joe Kernan
110 E Pokagon Street
South Bend, IN 46617

Dear Mr. Mayor,

It’s a pleasure to write to you, sir, who served both the city of South Bend and the state of Indiana so well for so many years. I grew up in South Bend, and I remember wondering if anybody ever even bothered running against you for city mayor. This was back when I was a very little kid, though, and did not yet know about the South Bend Democratic machine. When I later went to Ohio for college, I wondered why nobody celebrated Dyngus Day!

Anyway, the reason I’m writing you today has to do with those bygone days of the early 1990s. You see, Mr. Mayor, we’ve actually met before. It’s true! When I was in the second grade at Booth Tarkington Elementary School, I went with Mrs. Gladura and the rest of my classmates downtown on a field trip to see you. We went up just before lunch time and all sat on the floor around your big desk to listen to you tell us all about running South Bend. I remember you said you went to Notre Dame, and Mrs. Gladura made sure to mention your time served in Vietnam, so that we all knew what a service you had done for our country. Thank you very much, by the way!

Now, everything was going great up until the very end. The trip was ending, and everyone began to file out of your office. I, however, hung behind, because I was determined to talk to you and make you like me (I am a youngest child, and thus very attention-hungry). As it was 1990, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a popular Saturday morning cartoon, and I was a fan. Deciding to use the crude vernacular of the turtle Michelangelo, I confidently walked up to you and, smiling widely, proclaimed that, “This was a totally bodacious trip!”

Let me explain something. First, even though I was only eight, I was already very smart and manipulative. Did I think the field trip was totally bodacious? No, that was hyperbole. I was exaggerating to get your attention. Also, did I ever actually talk like that? No, in fact, I knew I sounded like an idiot, but I also knew you’d think it was cute. Remember, youngest child.

To continue, what happened next has haunted me for years. Beaming at my high review, you called your secretary into the office. Then you asked me to do it again. I was stunned! Sheepishly, I mumbled that it was a totally bodacious trip. No, you said, do it like you did before! Oh, how tiny I felt! Hoisted by my own petard, I was now reduced to performing my cheap act in front of your friends and coworkers! I swallowed my pride, though, and put on a grin once more. “This was a totally bodacious trip!” I chirped. I still shudder at the words…

Anyway, I just felt it was time to tell you. I don’t expect you to apologize (although it might be nice). I learned a powerful lesson that day, about never selling yourself out just to be liked. Also, we went to McDonald’s afterwards, so all in all it was a pretty good field trip.

Sincerely Yours,

The Correspondent

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Letter To the First Grade

I am contemplating whether or not to add my own personal drawing.

Tarkington Elementary School
3414 Hepler Street
South Bend, IN 46635
Attn: Mrs. Hesch’s First Grade Class

Dear Children,

It occurred to me while watching David Letterman that first grade classes are always writing people letters, but nobody ever writes them! There is too much unfairness in this world for me to let this injustice go on any longer. As I wondered what class I should write to out of all the elementary schools in the country, I came to the obvious conclusion that I had to write my alma mater, Booth Tarkington Elementary. Go Tigers!

Back when I was in school, things were a little different. First of all, my teacher was Mrs. Harper and the Principal was Mr. Sabo. The playground was old and covered in wood chips, which were probably removed after studies showed that recycled wood contained arsenic and other carcinogens. Carcinogens are bad things that make you sick, like eating too much Halloween candy. Listen to your Mom and Dad, kids!

I bet lots has changed since I left Tarkington. Do you still play the Oregon Trail and Numbers Muncher in the computer lab? Do you have art class? We had art class with Mrs. Verturamo, and there were two big trash bins in the front of the class. She always said they had clay in them, and that next year we’d get to sculpt clay. But every year we just kept using crayons and paint! What in the world was she hiding in those trash bins?!

I also noticed on your school’s website that Mrs. Majewski still teaches the fourth grade. Can you believe that she was MY fourth grade teacher? It’s true! She built a log cabin made of giant cardboard rods in her classroom every year, and each student took turns moving their desk into the cabin for a week. It was great! You could get away with anything in that cabin because she couldn’t see you. I really hated her. Sometimes you don’t like a teacher, but when you grow up you realize how much he or she was really helping you and your feelings change. This isn’t one of those times, though.

Things were crazy back then. The cafeteria didn’t exist; we ate lunch in the gym. The teachers parked where the basketball court is now. The school was aqua green on the outside panels, and the bus circle had not been built yet. But some things have not changed. We were at war with Iraq back when I was there. I bet the cafeteria mashed potatoes are still delicious. Do you still have the Fun Fair in the spring? I’d rather go to Fun Fair than the Moon! Unless Fun Fair was being held on the Moon, then I’d go to both! Let’s hope President Obama puts Fun Fair on the Moon.

Looks like I’m out of time, kids. I hope you have a great day, and say hi to the portrait of Booth Tarkington for me!


The Correspondent

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Letter to Hah-vard

This is based on a real conversation I had in bed last night with my lady friend. I've also previously brought a lit jack-o-lantern into bed "to replace her" and suggested to her that we podcast our pillow talk. Separate events.

Dean Jay O. Light
Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163

Dear Mr. Light,

I was wondering if I could write you and tell you how grateful I am that we have such talented and bright minds teaching our business leaders of the future. I have had no small amount of anxiety and fear these past few weeks over our country's current financial situation, but having good men such as yourself at the helm of our country's finest educational institution goes a long ways towards alleviating my worries.

I was also hoping to take your pulse on a little dream I have of entering business school and making something of myself. While I don't have a lot of business experience just yet, I am smart and I do see things, big things! Let me give you an example.

Just last night I was imaging what it would be like if a fairy (or perhaps a river nymph) came down and gave me a magical bottomless Mason jar. It's exactly what it sounds like. Now, I bet most people would only think of one thing to do with a bottomless Mason jar - they'd go to the bathroom in it. Think about it! You can't store things in there, they'd just fall into oblivion. It doesn't create anything, it's just a Mason jar. Nope, you'd just assume it was only good for pooping and peeing in. Maybe getting rid of kitchen garbage, too. I'll tell you, what a waste! (Pun intended.)

This is where my business mind took off. First, I thought that if I invented a screw-on toilet seat that I could immediately improve the product. It's a Mason jar, so it has grooves on it to screw a lid on. Imagine a comfy toilet seat that morphs into a funnel and then ends in a plastic screw top. It would make pooping in the Mason jar much easier. But then I realized I could only sell one unit to the owner of this one, unique bottomless Mason jar. What a terrible business model. Then it hit me!

I lease the bottomless Mason jar to the United States federal government so that they may use it to safely dispose of all the country's nuclear waste. I could make millions! Plus, I can carry the bottomless Mason jar all over the country and visit each power plant, so we don't have to worry about transporting nuclear waste anymore. Once the waste problem is solved, we can spearhead the new construction of dozens of nuclear power plants. Bam! Now I've not only made hundreds of millions of dollars, but I've solved America's energy concerns. That's called great business ethics, Mr. Light, and I've got them coming out of my ass. (Pun not intended.)

I may not have a fancy degree or a lot of money, but I think I see the subtle opportunities that other people miss. Please write me back and let me know if I have your support in my dream of being a big businessman. I'd really appreciate your advice.

Statuesquely Yours,

The Correspondent

A Letter to the HEPA people.

I have yet to hear a credible argument against this brilliant idea.

HEPA Corporation
3071 East Coronado Street
Anaheim, CA 92806
Attn: President

Dear Mr. President,

Good day to you, sir, and may I first say how much I've always enjoyed your quality filtering products. I'd rather have a pair of HEPA filters than these two kidneys I've got, but you can't make a trade-in with the Big Man Himself. But enough theology, I'm here today to talk to you about a business opportunity.

Now, your company has leveraged the discomfort and health problems related to allergies for your personal space filtering systems - yet you still can't compete with the multi-billion dollar drug industry those fat cats behind Allegra and Claritin have built for themselves. But what if you could cure allergies altogether and take their place in the market? That would surely take the clumping out of their kitty litter! Well, thanks to a brilliant idea I had in the bathtub earlier today, now you can.

Introducing the HEPA nose filter! Imagine it, two tiny discs of HEPA filters that will keep out anything bigger than a couple of microns, shoved up people's noses. We put the filters inside little rings of flexible rubber so you can easily bend them when you put them in your nose, then they flop out snugly against your nostril's walls, forcing all entering air to be filtered first. No more allergens! Attack the source! That's what Grandpa did in World War II, and that's what I want to do to pollen in 2009!

Ok, I know what you're thinking, who wants to stick a ring up their nose, right? I would have agreed with you six months ago, but have you seen what people are sticking up their fallopian tubes lately? Mirena and NuvaRing? If a doctor can get some woman to shove a plastic flux capacitor up her lady flower then you and I can get these filter rings up people's noses. Let's get to work, Mister Man!

Plus, our nose filter works both ways! Sick people will use them so they don't spread germs when they sneeze. They'll have them by the dozens to hand out in every elementary school classroom in America. Also, when you're done at the end of the day you can wash the filters to use again. They're dishwasher safe! Just put them in the fork basket.

Please write me as soon as possible so we can begin R&D and brand development. I was thinking of a name like Nos-Guard or Aller-Ring. I don't know; they still need some fleshing out. It won't matter in the long run, though. The important thing is that we act now, before it's too late...

Cheerily Yours,

The Correspondent

A Letter to Sherlock Holmes

No, I couldn't write a letter to Sherlock Holmes. I couldn't even write a letter to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. So I did the next best thing.

Mrs. Andrea Plunket
408 Debruce Road
Livingston Manor
New York 12758

Dear Mrs. Plunket,

First, I apologize for interrupting you in this manner. Please know I would never call on you at this hour if I were not at my complete wit's end. As the administrator of the literary estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I feel you may be the only person on this earth who can answer my question and end the frustrating madness I have endured these past few days.

Briefly the facts are these. On the evening of October 11th, I had just finished a late supper and was preparing to retire for the evening with a low lamp and a good book, when thrice I heard a strange scratching noise coming from the laundry room. Not expecting any visitors, I re-buttoned my boxers and investigated. Turns out it was the cat.

Upon returning to my book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I settled into reading the story of "The Five Orange Pips." A harrowing tale of Suspense and Murder, I could not put it down, even after my lady friend had settled in for some brief pillow talk and to romance her partner. My heart sunk low at Holmes' failure to protect the young Mr. Openshaw, and when it rose again it was tinged black with vengeance against the three perpetrators of this hideous crime.

Of course, as I'm sure you know, Holmes finds the killers and sends them a cryptic note containing five orange pips, which awaits them in America (along with the police) when their ship arrives. But then their ship sinks and the story ends! Do you call this resolution, madam? Do you call this justice?

I'm writing to you because I cannot live with the story in this state. Why did the Ku Klux Klan harass the Openshaw family? What secrets lied in the papers the elder Openshaw burned? What is the correct usage of "lay/lie" in the previous sentence?

As the last living connection I could find to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I hope you will write me promptly with your answers so I may put this story out of my mind once and for all. If I cannot turn my brain from this puzzle, I fear I may seek relief in the milky depths of the cocaine needle!

Waiting In Anxious Stagnation,

The Correspondent

P.S. I see that this address also corresponds to The Guest House Bed & Breakfast in the Catskills Mountains. It sounds quite lovely; please send a brochure. I enjoy fly-fishing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Letter To Pepsi

This letter needs little explanation, so here's a little explanation: Crystal Pepsi was the greatest beverage to ever wet the lips of man.

700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY, 10577
(914) 253-2000
Massimo F. d’Amore
Chief Executive Officer

Dear Mr. d’Amore

I am writing to express my many years of thanks for the quality products the Pepsi-Cola Company has delivered into my home. With the exception of Pepsi Max (I eschew all ginseng by-products), I have tried all of your beverages. My favorite throughout the years, however, has always been Crystal Pepsi.

I am sure you receive many letters imploring you to reinstate Crystal Pepsi, and I won’t waste your time with such a useless request. I understand the nature of business and, unfortunately, Crystal Pepsi had its chance at market viability. On that note, however, I would like to offer you a business proposition.

If it suits the Pepsi-Cola Company, I would like to enter into a contract whereas your company installs a small factory line capable of producing the original Crystal Pepsi formula specifically for my personal consumption. I am willing to cover whatever initial conversion costs this start-up will incur, up to $250,000.00 (Two-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars). After that, I will pay $300.00 (Three-hundred dollars) for each case of syrup you deliver to my residence. I will supply my own soda-fountain machine. To give you an idea of future production needs, my records from 1993 suggest I will need a new case every 11 days. At the present time, I foresee no drop in this demand until my death in an estimated 35 years from now.

Please let me know as soon as possible if this deal has a chance and I will forward you to my legal counsel for final negotiations and contractual harrumphing. I would like to move forward quickly, though, so I may have my Crystal Pepsi machine up and running in time for the Super Bowl. It would really make my party sparkle (pun intended!).

Reclined in waiting,

The Correspondent

Here's the response:

Pepsi also sent a t-shirt (size American, or XXXL) and coupons for free Pepsi products. Not too shabby. On a more somber note, you ever have a great-grandparent that you sort of knew when you were really little, and even though you really loved them, they died when you were young and before long you can't even remember the sound of their voice?

I've tried, and I can't even remember what Crystal Pepsi tasted like anymore. Yes, I think it's the same thing!

A Letter To Jim Tressel

Jim Tressel coaches football at Ohio State. I part my hair on the left.

Head Coach Jim Tressel
Woody Hayes Athletic Center
Les Wexner Football Complex
535 Irving Schottenstein Drive
Columbus, OH 43210

Dear Mr. Tressel,

I am writing you today to express my heartfelt thanks for your many years of service with the community. Our community appreciates everything the Tressels have done for this community, including and limited to your many charity works, community service projects, the caring and giving of things and also your big heart. They are all very special to us here!

Now, I wanted to ask you a personal question that has been bugging me for several years. I happen to part my hair on the left, that is to say, on my left. The left from my vision, meaning when I'm looking straight ahead I comb my hair from my left to my right. Several years ago I realized, however, that while I enjoyed the handsome look this created in my mirror, it was not actually the look I was conveying to the public. That is to say, the rest of the world sees my hair parted from the right to the left. That's correct, isn't it?

I had forgotten about this until recently when I noticed you part your hair from the left to the right (your left, not my left). I have to ask you, have you ever considered that the look you are trying to create is actually a reverse image of the look you have had your entire life? In my studies, I decided to part my hair from the right to the left in order to see what the world was seeing. It looked absolutely ridiculous. What I thought I looked like was really what you look like to me, which is to say our look is not our own look, and that we can only look like each other and never look like ourselves.

Anyway, I just wanted to bring this to your attention so you may deal with it as quickly as possible. You may think you can just start parting your hair from the right to the left and you will solve the problem, but I tried this already and I can't live with myself when I see it. I look like an idiot, and even though I only look like an idiot to myself, it's a cross I cannot bear.

Good luck in your season, Coach, and I look forward to hearing how you have overcome this hardship in your life and gone on to be such a successful person in life. Maybe you have some life/hair tips I can use?

Fighting the good fight with you,

The Correspondent

This is one of my favorites,but it's also the one I would least expect to garner a reply. Perhaps I should have written it in December, Coach Tressel never seems to be busy with football then.

A Letter to CD101

CD101 is an alternative radio station in Columbus. I don't have numbers, but it's a yearly runaway winner in Columbus Monthly's Best List. They have listeners. The strange part is their website, which is pretty ugly.

My letter, however, focuses on their weekday morning DJs, Joe Jewett, Doctor Smith and Krista Kae. I wonder what Doctor Smith's Ph.D. is in. Better not be something dumb, like podiatry.

503 S. Front St.
Suite 101
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: (614) 221-9923
Fax: (614) 227-0021

Dear Weekday Morning DJs,

I just had to write and tell you all what a wonderful time I recently had while listening to your radio station. I turned to it while making my morning 9:15 commute to work and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed each of your voices. Usually I hate DJ voices (they remind me of my deceased neighbor), but you all sound like real, normal people. Your voices even go together great, like in a harmony. Maybe you should make an album! I’d buy it as a stocking stuffer.

I also really enjoyed the “Fool the Guesser” game where you guessed callers’ weights and birth months. The questions you came up with were very original! I never would have thought of a few of them. I think it’s such a great tradition, that I had a suggestion: could you play other carnival games? My favorite is when you fill a balloon with a water pistol. I don’t know how exactly this will work over radio, but I’m sure you could think of an interesting solution. You thought of all those great questions!

Thanks for all the great work you three do, and please let me know what you think of my water pistol idea. I will always listen to CD 101 when I’m driving to work now, it’s the best.

I really like your building, too! It looks like a big castle.

Yours in trust,

The Correspondent

P.S. I don’t like your afternoon DJ. Her speaking voice sounds as if she’s trying to sing while eating taffy. If I had to describe her voice in one word, it would be “jarmled.” I have a feeling she’s always smiling, which makes me distrust her. Otherwise, great work!

This was the first letter I wrote, many weeks ago, and despite the fact that it's addressed to a Columbus business that prides itself on being alternative, I've received no response. I even told them exactly when I listen to their station, but I never even got a radio shout-out. This kind of terrible PR can only mean one thing: that damn afternoon DJ also doubles as CD101's mailroom caddy.

I wasn't kidding about their building, either, it's a great big red castle. Like in Redwall. What a wonderful book series.

A Letter To Ice Mountain Water

The following letter was written after observing one of the new eco-friendly water bottles Ice Mountain Water has been touting. And by touting I mean selling. To my boss, who had them in the fridge.

Ice Mountain Water
P.O. Box 628
Wilkes Barre, PA 18703

Dear Ice Mountain Water CEO,

Just thought you would like to know how much I recently enjoyed a bottle of your refreshing water beverage. I tried one of your “Natural Spring Waters,” and I have to say, it’s my favorite flavor of yours thus far. I understand that you are a large company and that you probably employ several hundred dozen adults, so I’m not sure who to single out for their good job. All in all, I’d say your entire operation is delivering a top-notch product.

I also noticed on the side of my bottle you are using a new “eco-shape” that reduces the amount of plastic in the bottle by 30%. May I ask you how this is possible? Since water takes the shape of whatever container it is in, wouldn’t a smaller bottle just mean less water? To discover the truth, I tried comparing the water I can hold in my hand to the water my much smaller niece can hold in hers. She is at least 30% smaller than I am. Unfortunately, it was difficult to judge the results without more expensive instruments. I assume a large company such as yours has already invested the research and can provide the answer.

Thanks so much for your hard work in delivering such a refreshing beverage, Mr. Water CEO. Please let me know the bottle answer as soon as you can – it’s a real puzzler for me!

I also love the mountains drawn on your wrapper. Are they real or fictional?

A Heavy Drinker,

The Correspondent

After a few weeks this reply arrived in the mail:

It's written by a "customer response representative," which I hope isn't as boring as it sounds. My guess is it is, in which case, you're welcome, Anthony.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dear Reader,

This blog archives the daily letters I write to various companies and persons, along with their irregular replies. Each letter is 100% real and all inquiries are presented in complete intellectual honesty. Exaggerations occur, but each letter is presented in good faith from a serious wonderment or thought.

Each weekday will bring a new letter, so please check frequently and subscribe to the RSS feed or blogger following. I am unsure about what either of those two things means.


The Correspondent