October 24, 2011

The demise of the old-fashioned love letter…






…no matter what format, is a loss romantics the world over - however few of us are left - will always mourn. And with summer romances fading faster than August's tan, what would be more pleasantly surprising than an epistle from a beloved?
It costs not much, it takes some effort and a little time, but the result is everlasting. No one, not even the philistines who rule our culture nowadays, despise a love letter. My father, a connoisseur of the fairer sex, used to turn them out effortlessly. He once admitted to a friend of his that the best love note he ever received simply stated, "I do love you." Alas, love letters do not have to be long.
Not surprisingly, people today prefer the world's most annoying instrument, the cell phone. The intrusive contraption demands less concentration and therefore less commitment.  Mind you, in certain cases it's understandable, now that selling personal memorabilia to the press has become big business. And divorce lawyers counsel, "Don't text it!"
What is truly sad about the death of the love letter is that an entire aspect of romantic expression known to our grandparents has now vanished. Back in the good old days, people got to know each other through words rather than through deeds. Or, translation: syntax rather than sex. Relationships were more stable as a result. Just imagine if young people would correspond with each other for one year before taking the plunge. Would they take it?  Probably not, but then I am assuming they both know how to write.

Of course, some people are better at writing love letters than others. I have a personal favorite that went as follows:
"Dear X, There's a marvelous line in Romeo and Juliet when Romeo, having avenged Mercutio's death, is banished from Verona. ‘Heaven is here, where Juliet lives’, he proclaimed. However sudden this may sound, or corny, this is how I've felt about you since the first moment I met you. Love, Max."


My brother Max first wrote that letter over fifty years ago, and to his great delight it worked, so he tried it again and again. Now before any of you scream foul, I don't think there's anything wrong with repeating a love epistle. It's the message that counts, not the wording. And the message is that he loved her. Some might say repetition dilutes the meaning. But not for him. The reason I can go public with it is that he got caught and became the laughingstock of, well, I will keep that under wraps.
Two girls were discussing Max, and both said how they thought very little of him. Then Angela said, "But he does write wonderful love letters."  Emma agreed and read one out. When she had finished, Angela had a wicked grin on her face. She had received the same letter. They both started to laugh. Word got out, and people never stopped laughing. One wit said that the original one, the one that Mona received, could be worth a lot by now. I hope so.

Women, far more than men, are the victims of the love letter's demise. They like to be wooed, and nothing is better for a courtship battle than a letter. Being pounced on is not a woman's idea of romance, or so I believe, but then again I'm awfully old-fashioned. And it is far harder to win a woman's heart than to win her body. Robert Browning won Elizabeth Barrett's heart through the written word, not the spoken one. Furthermore, shyness does not inhibit when writing, at least not nearly as much as it does when speaking.  This is why today's lack of love letters is a paradox. We are a far more prurient society, exposing ourselves in the most ludicrous manner, yet we will not write from the heart.

Now some of you will see this post as yet one more manifestation of Ms. Edna's leanings and tendencies, traits passed down from my father.  As far as I'm concerned, women have suffered more from the lack of romance than men. Now I admit my mother may have suffered from my father's cavalier behavior, but she loved him until the very end because he always flirted and romanced her as well. And he meant it. To my mind, my father's pursuit of other women never diminished his love for my mother.  After their death, I found their letters, but I can't pass them on because it would be too painful.  Still, when his mistress came to see me and showed me some of his letters, I refused to read them out of respect for my mother.  My father's mistress only wished for me to know what a romantic man he had been. But I already knew.
Although I'm getting a bit too long in the tooth, my heart still skips a beat whenever I hear from or see a man I like, and it will until it stops ticking altogether. But until that time, I will continue to love romance and write love notes -although no Romeo and Juliet ones.

ϡ

20 comments:

Ms. Capshaw said...

DELIGHTFUL - thank you

– Admiring the Blogger from Afar, Santa Barbara said...

I have spent the past three years browsing your blogs and I can imagine you have no problem finding guys who would fall at your feet. I consider myself a pretty creative person but find myself drawing a total blank as to what to say. So I just say –thank you.

Angela said...

Nothing ever goes away.
Every man is a divinity in disguise, a God playing the fool. Can we swap Mona?

Mona said...

O no Angela. I will keep mine for ‘old age’, or a rainy day. Whichever comes first. ;-) You remembered this Ms. Edna? Priceless!

Charles said...

I know UNIX, PASCAL, C, FORTRAN, COBOL, and a slew of other high-tech languages. No woman EVER wanted to keep my programing protocols for old age or a rainy day! Darn.

Ms. Edna (squared) said...

Courage Charles, you may yet find a cybervixen who will swoon over your protocols. Just make the sub-routines more enticing. Much love -

Anonymous said...

True love may be sought, thought, or caught — but never bought.

frenchtoast said...

The measure of a master is his success in bringing us around to his way - fifty years later.
Thank you Ms. Edna this is priceless. And thank you Mona for laughing with us.

your gaggle of fans said...

We cannot find LOVELETTERS.SYS…Universe Halted

SvO said...

Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary day, life gives us a fairy tale in the form of a blog.
To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides, thanks to Max.
Thank you Ms. Edna, so glad you posted this.

Mrs. G said...

Many fathers have done brilliantly, but yours excelled them all.

asterix said...

It is a wise child that knows his own father.

Alistair said...

The gods never let us love and be wise at the same time, do they? No matter how smart we are, we spend most of our day being an idiot. Yet, let us not be timid and squeamish all life is an adventure.

a fan said...

If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question? In expressing love we belong among the undeveloped countries.

Karen (Danish Babe) said...

I’m always looking for meaningful one night stands. Where was your brother when I needed him?

Love the post!

Bill said...

We all need words of love (in any format), especially when we do not deserve it.

Andrew said...

Love is like pi - natural, irrational, and VERY important.

dumb*wit*tell*her said...

A Perfect Day for a Love Letter

The modern-day love letter takes many forms and you will be happy to know that it isn't dead—it has grown more diverse.

Anonymous said...

For every reason, there’s a rhyme…
It is increasingly clear that, strangely, our relationships are missing something. We fail to connect through electronic communications and have forsaken the intimate experience. This produces what amounts to a state of schizophrenia: Man as an observer is becoming completely alienated from himself as a being.

Anonymous said...

every post(yours anyway)is a cosmos
dissolving the inarticulate