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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

140

Love Letters Sent and Responses Received, Without Commentary

1. "I understand that your family's primary concern is that J____ – the sister and daughter you love deeply – is a healthy, happy, self-aware person who is capable of receiving and giving love in her relationships without becoming needy, or domineering, or dishonest, or manipulative, or unkind. It's what we wish for all the people that we love. Of course, we may feel differently about where same-sex relationships fall into the happy/healthy/appropriate spectrum, but I do understand that you all want the best for her.

I want to assure you that while our beliefs may diverge at certain points, the fundamentals remain the same. I believe J____ to be a wonderful woman and I feel lucky that she's chosen to be with me. Any family that could have produced a person like her is a family worth listening to and respecting. She is honest, tender, patient, inquisitive, and honorable. That your parents were responsible for raising her makes me both impressed and grateful. It's not my intention to provoke or dissect their beliefs about sexuality. That's an issue between them and their god, and any friends or family members with whom they choose to share their questions, struggles, and frustrations. I do not see it as my place to begin arguments or conflict.

You're absolutely right: this is a journey that will take time. I cannot predict where my relationship with J____ will be six months or a year or two years from now. I would never try to force my company onto anyone who did not want it – whether that be J____ , your parents, or anyone else. I do hope, however, that as long as our relationship does last, I can try my utmost to treat your family with kindness, respect, and friendliness.

More than anything, I want your parents to know that I think their daughter is a very important, very special person. I strive to make sure that I treat her with the respect and honor that I would want any family member of mine to be shown. Our relationship, I hope, is and will continue to be a healthy one. I would never treat her cavalierly or with disrespect, and I want them to know that."

2. "I miss you wretchedly. I love you terribly. Write me a love letter and my next will be better than this one, I promise."

3. "Dear Sean K.,

I’m sorry that N____ told you yesterday that I liked you because I don’t. Not that I DON’T like you, I just don’t like anyone right now which is what I told her when she asked me so I don’t know why she said that. I only said I liked your metallica shirt. I don’t like anyone right now even though you are a cool guy."

4. "My book about God, given to the lord
Written by Mallory
Colerd by Mallory 
God loves us he sent his son to die
John helped people who sinned
We can show his love by being nice!"
(illustrations not pictured)

5. "How easily you now live without me; how awkwardly and clumsily and foolishly I live without you. I hope this does not embarrass you to read; it does not embarrass me to say. The pain, anyhow, is past. To love you without hope or expectation feels expansive. There is nothing that I need from you, nothing you can say or do in response to it – only know that there is nothing about you that I find unlovely. That I cherish you, deeply and profoundly and without reservation. That you should exist in this world – that I should have been with you – that I have been able to know both suffering and joy at your hands – seems like an extravagant gift, one for which I am forever and unutterably grateful.

I am not sad; I am not lonely. I have found myself capable of love that is unaffected and unassailable by circumstances and I am forever better for it. If this seems overwhelming or simply odd – well, I have unquiet thoughts, a disordered heart and an anxious spirit and I can only apologize for them.

If there is anything coherent or sane to be taken from this it may be that whatever hurts I have felt are all passing, and cannot outweigh or contaminate the hugeness of my happiness. You are a remarkable man. I love you unrestrainedly. I will still have to guard myself with you, practically speaking. But I have nothing left to fear; I have gone through the worst of it now and you were worth all of it.”

 ***

A. An “Angry Beavers”-themed Valentine’s Day card inscribed with “you’re cool too.”

B. Nothing (yet).

C. “Here is the tricky part: Your relationship with J____  (my sister and my parents daughter) is one that we believe is wrong Biblically. I say that not to annoy you or piss you off or get you in a bad mood...i think you know all that. I’m pretty sure J____  has let you know where I stand, where our family stands on the subject of "homosexual" relationships. We are also Christians, and I say that to say we are to, and do try to treat others just as Jesus treated others: With Love.

So where is a balance of : What is treating with Love? What is compromising beliefs yada yada yada...same boring stuff you've probably heard a million times before. Am i right? I’ve heard ananalogy kind of like this before (i write this with caution...so please dont read to far into it, i think in just the couple of times we've talked you know I am not a mean spirited person, and would never do anything to anyone ..especially a friend of the family and especially of J____ - I mean that with all that I am!)...so the analogy ...Imagine if you will your father called you and said: "hey – I’ve got a mistress. I know it may seem weird, but I believe that the Bible teaches that having a mistress is ok, and I’m ok with it. Your mother doesn’t seem to like it, but i’m ok with it. I would like you to get to know her.” Now at this point your thinking...geez.you dont even know me and your calling me a whore ...bzzzz wrong. Please dont think i’m doing that ....What I am saying is this: I’m pretty sure you believe that your father having a mistress would be wrong...especially since he is happliy married to your mother...and that the thought that he would desire you to get to know her and talk to her...well its somewhat repulsive.”

D. A high-five.

E. “This is Wolfy.

He looks more like a llama than a wolf, but never mind that. I’ve had him for as long as I can remember, probably since before the age of one. I used to do little puppet shows with him and my other stuffed animals from behind our couch in E____.

I used him to tell stories to N____  when N____ was a baby. I remember taking him to the zoo and the monkeys freaked out so much when they saw him that a zoo security guard had to ask us to leave the exhibit (Wolfy would have kicked their asses).

I amputated his tongue when I was 10 because it had gotten all gnarled and disgusting, and it had come attached to the front of his mouth at one point. He can still talk though, and plenty of anaesthetic was used at the time.

He is the only toy I’ve kept from childhood. I’ve had him with me my whole life. And I’d like you to have him, because I want you to have this piece of me while we’re apart, and the only thing I want to have with me my whole life now is you.

So: he can tell you all about my past, and you can keep him up-to-date on my future. I love you.”

 

1 = C, 2 = E, 3 = A, 4 = B, 5 = D.

Mallory Ortberg is a writer in the Bay Area. Her work has also appeared on Slacktory and Ecosalon.



140 Comments / Post A Comment

Reginal T. Squirge

2E is heartbreaking. And 5D is my entire life.

Reginal T. Squirge

These are so good. So, so good.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Reginal T. Squirge Yup, a high-five is probably what I'd get in return if I tried to write the letter in 5.

packedsuitcase

@Reginal T. Squirge 2E. Oh my goodness. I feel kind of hollow where my heart should be right now and I can't quite figure out why. It's like my heart has run out for a second to find Dudefriend and I am just waiting to get it back.

*melodramatic sigh* Oh, love.

Scandyhoovian

@packedsuitcase 2E just made me a little misty, not gonna lie. Wow.

glitterary

@Reginal T. Squirge Oh god, letter 5. Letter 5 is the letter I hope I'll be able to write in time to the completely unavailable person I effectively wrote a never-to-be-posted proposal to today. Love is horrible and wonderful.

mattewmc

Great job with this post!!@t

deepomega

Don't make me write you a sonnet. I'll fucking do it. I'll write you a sonnet right here and now about how much I love a good listicle.

Reginal T. Squirge

I will write you a sonnet so fucking hard!

melis

Please send all sonnets to mallory dot elis at gmail immediately, right now, preferably working Balk's listicle about nuts in there somehow.

deepomega

@melis Done and done. Wish I could monetize sonnets.

fabel

A high-five?? A HIGH-FIVE was the response to 5?

melis

I thought rather the same thing at the time!

SarahP

@fabel UGH I know! I wanted the response to be equally amazing!

PatatasBravas

@fabel I re-read the answer list several times to make sure it was correct. My heart is squished for the letter-writer.

tamarbouta

@PatatasBravas i did the same thing.

fabel

Also. Ugh. Can't even respond to the others. Something is in my eye.

AudreyStapina

These are so amazing, all of them, in totally different ways (which is in itself amazing). The end of C made me gasp and turn away from the computer for a sec.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I felt all of these in my cold, cold heart, but the exchange between 1 and C is so, so sad.

runner in the garden

So disappointed it wasn't 4-D.

Regina Phalange

@runner in the garden Or 4-A. I would've definitely accepted 4-A.

melis

gUyyyYYyysS tWo oF tHeSe aRe fRoM ThE SaME pERsOn *~*~*~*

Reginal T. Squirge

Holy shit if you don't tell me which ones I will die.

avocadoamp

@melis but N___ and N____ are NOT the same person! Tricky!

Reginal T. Squirge

If it's 2E and 5E, I will implode.

Also, I need to know how many of these were written by hand before I can exhale again.

melis

@Reginal T. Squirge Circle gets the square!

Reginal T. Squirge

NO!

I have completely unraveled.

Ophelia

@melis WHAAAAAAT!! Nooooo! 2E made me love humanity, and 5D, well.

Jennifer Culp

@melis The Angry Beavers card changed LW's feeling about Sean K. and he went on to become the high-fiver!
J___'s sister got over the Biblically wrong garbage and fell terribly in love with her sister's ex (SCANDAL!), who wrote her the world's most amazing letter about Wolfy.
....GOD?

highfivesforall

@Reginal T. Squirge Augh I was hoping you were wrong! Although, the very existence of 5D is hurting my soul.

Jennifer Culp

@melis NOOOOOOOOOO I should have refreshed sooner I was laughing but now I am crying. HOW COULD YOU, WOLFY-OWNER?

okaycrochet

@melis NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO WHAT A WORLD WHAT A WOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRLD

Reginal T. Squirge

@highfivesforall

I can't even look at the screen if 5 is in the window! It is everything I have ever felt and I am totally green with jealous rage that I will never be able to express myself that well.

VelourFog

@melis The high five response came last in that sequence, correct? Right before you set that person on fire?

laurel

@Jennifer Culp: And where is Wolfy now?!

tealily

@melis I knew it. F that guy. :(

redheaded&crazy

@laurel I fail at matching and somehow mixed these up such that the response to 2 was nothing and the response from Sean K. was the gift of wolf-y. I was so confused and sad and now I am confused and sad for different reasons.

melis

@laurel E later asked for Wolfy back and I complied, keeping my opinions about it to myself, for I am a gracious queen of unruffled serenity.

Mariajoseh

@melis you are, you ARE!

laurel

@melis: Oh, E. So many failures.

Reginal T. Squirge

@melis

STOP IT! I can't handle the bonus cuts to these letters!

Inkling

@CarlyM
The high five was more like helpless flailing to stop even more gasoline from being dumped onto them, right??

highfivesforall

@Inkling And I just realized how callous my username seems to be in this thread. I promise my high fives are only used for good, not evil!

Mariajoseh

OMG 2E ! sweetest thing i've ever read!

cat_ballou

Oh my goodness E.

SuperGogo

Melis, would you please STOP* tearing my heart out with every one of your posts??

*Don't stop

meetapossum

@SuperGogo YOU'RE TEARING ME APART, MELLLISSSSSS.

Cat named Virtute

Ohhhhhhh, love this! So sweet and heartbreaking. I LOVE YOU MALLORY ORTBERG.

Cat named Virtute

@Cat named Virtute Ugh, five is still getting to me. It's exquisite.

Now I want to go write 8 billion love letters to the girl I'm dating.

melis

Yes! Everyone write love letters, they are great and maybe someone you wrote one to will publish yours anonymously on a woman's website years later.

melis

Okay, semi-anonymously, they're gonna know who they are. But those who have done no wrong will have nothing to fear! <3 you, love letter recipients. Even you, Sean K., wherever you are.

Megasus

@melis LET'S BOMBARD MELIS WITH LOVE LETTERS SHE GAVE HER EMAIL FURTHER UPTHREAD

Cat named Virtute

@melis Okay, but I am directing all overwhelmed and unsettled emails that may result from my zeal to you.

"Dear Mallory Ortberg,

Today when I came home from work I couldn't get in to my apartment because my lover had filled it with thousands of balloons with love poetry copied onto them. She makes a mean pan of brownies and has good taste in books, but this is ridiculous. I understand you are responsible. Please advise."

Ophelia

@Cat named Virtute I wish "Dear Mallory Ortberg" was an advice column.

Cat named Virtute

@Ophelia Omg. As A Melis!

Reginal T. Squirge

@melis

Any and all love letters should be written, obvs. It is when they are delivered that is the important part. Timing is everything.

Ophelia

@Reginal T. Squirge I rather think the mode of delivery matters, as well.

Megasus

@Cat named Virtute Ask a melis would be brilliant. Especially if you never know if you're going to get evil melis or regular melis.

Cat named Virtute

@Megano! What if we also just start bombarding melis with our problems?

"Dear Melis,

What are the best balloons for filling your lover's apartment with? Please advise quickly; she gets home at 5:30."

Yahtzii

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.

HIGH FIVE

Megasus

@Yahtzii I hope they at least got heck of laid later, otherwise this is both a love story AND a tragedy.

tessamae

@Yahtzii NO ONE KNOWS LIKE JANE. NO ONE.

But seriously, can you imagine getting this letter? I would d-i-e. And weep. And weep and die. And then be resurrected by love's sweet breath of life and weep some more. So. Perfect.

playingpossum

@tessamae I know I know - its the best love letter ever. "You pierce my soul" - how could ANYONE resist that??

whateverlolawants

@Yahtzii That's so beautiful, but if my boyfriend from 8.5 years ago wrote me that now, I would be so confused.

Disco Sheets

@Yahtzii YES FAVORITE EVER

martinipie

@Yahtzii Oh god Wentworth oh god oh god I thought for so long I was all about Darcy and then Wentworth came along and I was like peace out, Fitzwilliam, I found me a captain!

Yahtzii

I am pretty sure that the Bible actually DOES teach that having a mistress is okay if your first wife is infertile or on her period or looking at a pig with one eye or whatever the hell they did back then, SO TAKE THAT J'S SISTER.

Oh, squiggles

@Yahtzii That would be expecting the people who preach about the bible, to actually KNOW what the bible says. Which is silly, am I right? And where would we be without that wondrous mix of self-righteous hate coupled with ignorant hypocrisy? (probably somewhere nicer than this)

EternalFootwoman

@Yahtzii What the Bible "says" depends on whether you're going to:

A) read both Old and New Testaments as well as some good sources covering the history/language/culture of the time each part of the Bible was written and try and take the whole thing in context, paying particular attention to which parts are meant to explain the origins of a people, which parts are meant to instruct specific groups in specific locations undergoing specific trials, which parts are meant as literature/poetry, and, during the course of all of this reading, take note of which commands/precepts seem to predominate OR

b) pick some lines from the Old Testament and some "ananalogy" you heard your pastor use in a sermon once in order to blast entire groups of people for not behaving the way you think they should, while simultaneously disregarding massive sections of the Bible because they're boring or irrelevant.

SuperGogo

@EternalFootwoman I would only add the words "or inconvenient." to point B. Otherwise, this comment is so spot on it hurts.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

I know the Bible backwards and forwards (former Christian and religion major, woot), and came down here to make a clever Bible-related comment, but I am so SHAKING WITH ANGER at the level of smug, self-deluding nastiness that allows a person to say they treat others With Love while writing this bullshit, that I cannot even type.

Jesus would throw you the FUCK out of the temple, you horrible white-washed tomb of a person.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails "horrible white-washed tomb of a person" is possibly the best insult I've ever heard.

EternalFootwoman

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails I was going to say that I've stopped being immediately angry at that sort of thing because I'm used to hearing it. But as a current semi-Christian (and gay feminist, so there's that), I should actually be completely pissed. Thank you for reminding me of that.

"Jesus would throw you the FUCK out of the temple, you horrible white-washed tomb of a person." <---Perfect. And so true.

sceps yarx

@EternalFootwoman Whitewashed tombs...Jesus can be so snarky sometimes! Also, his remark about people who "tie heavy burdens onto other people's backs that they aren't willing to lift a finger to bear" seems applicable in this situation.

Hello Kidney

@Yahtzii, I would love to know who the alleged victim of the "homosexual" relationship is in this analogy (the quotation marks around homosexual killed me, by the way), since the mother is clearly the victim in the adultery scenario. Is the victim Jesus? The Children? The reproductive future of the human race?

EternalFootwoman

@Hello Kidney Well, Jesus, obviously. Also, probably J____, who was raised to be a good Christian but is being drawn away from Christ by Satan's gay army.

Oh, squiggles

I want to be a part of any team that has the name "Satan's Gay Army". Kickball league? Knitting club? Volunteer organization?

EternalFootwoman

@Awesomely Nonfunctional Satan's Gay Army is a multifaceted organization with many branches. The SGA has a place for all types of minions. Like to sprinkle glitter? Lift weights? Embroider throw pillows? Read books? Bake? SGA has a place for you!

Oh, squiggles

@EternalFootwoman Yes to all! Where do I sign, and when do I get my t-shirt/badge/learn the secret handshake?

I'm guessing the uniforms are fabulous.

Ophelia

I'm pretty sure that I've written #3 at least a few times, but never quite had the panache to put it into an Angry Beavers card (and I sincerely hope that was a prescient reference to yesterday's Harpy discussion).

Jennifer Culp

I sort of love Sean K.

SarahP

@Jennifer Culp He's okay, but my real love is his Metallica shirt.

SarahP

Preeeeeetty sure whenever Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning met up between correspondences, they were like "Nice love poem in my letter the other day! HIGH FIVE!"

Heat Signature

I think if I got a high five in response to something heartfelt that I'd written, I'd break out into hysterical laughter...and then I might hurt the high fiver.

whateverlolawants

@Heat Signature On the upside, I might stop loving them after that.

TARDIStime

@Heat Signature I would just High Five them right in the face.

meetapossum

Was homosexual really in quotation marks?

SuperGogo

@meetapossum I know these people (well I don't actually know J___ and J___'s sister, but y'know, I know "these people") and I'm positive it was.

meetapossum

@SuperGogo As if they actually exist at all.

SarahP

@meetapossum bzzzz wrong

meetapossum

@SarahP "SarahP"

SarahP

@meetapossum aka YOUR DAD'S MISTRESS

Elsajeni

@meetapossum Those quotation marks serve the same function as tongs, they protect the writer from touching a word they think is gross.

HeyThatsMyBike

@meetapossum I want to try! "Global Warming" "Feminist" "Extremely Soft and Chewy Now & Later"

melis

NOT ONLY was it really in quotation marks, you guys, I probably removed about 2/3rds of the spelling & grammatical errors in his email because I thought if I left it as it was no one would believe such a person existed. It seemed like a liberal caricature of a a Bible Belter!

HeyThatsMyBike

@melis So was the response just punching him? Setting the Earth on fire and just burning it all in the hopes that the renewed and enriched soil would spring a better world?

whateverlolawants

@HeyThatsMyBike Yeah, what the fuck do you even say to that?

Jennifer Culp

@melis For some reason I thought he was a woman. I pictured her with brassy highlights.

BoozinSusan

@melis Motion to transcribe the whole letter and post it here in the comments? Sorry, I'm just the kind of girl who's spellbound by trainwrecks.

D.T. Bell

This is just much too much.

permanentbitchface

"somewhat repulsive"???
What the actual fuck? How can you equate meeting and having a relationship with your sister's girlfriend with meeting and having a relationship with your dad's mistress? That's completely fucked up and I'm getting really furious that this is a real response that you received.

laurel

@permanentbitchface: Being gay is worse than lies and betrayal, obviously.

whizz_dumb

@permanentbitchface It's not even close to analogous! "I’ve heard ananalogy kind of like this before..." and I don't know what 'ananalogy' really is but it makes me feel better about my bigotry and lack of compassion or understanding I have toward my own sister. This comparison, which is like comparing apples to oranges, really conveys and justifies my personal discomfort with my sisters sexuality in a closed-minded way.

SarahP

@whizz_dumb Ananalogy is a proper name. Her stories are convoluted and she's always secretly calling you a whore.

HeyThatsMyBike

@permanentbitchface I want to read the response to C. Can you punch somebody through a computer/letter?

staircases

@permanentbitchface What's worse than mansplaining? Being mansplained to about how "repulsive" you are.

Oh, squiggles

My response to this? *highfive*

null

I just crawled inside the crevices of #5 and died.

laurel

"(illustrations not pictured)", sigh.

frigwiggin

The only love notes I leave for my boyfriend are "from" our stuffed giraffe.

Dancercise

I'm going to start ending all of my correspondence with "I mean that with all that I am!"

So thanks for that, J's sibling!

onthesideofmyface

Oh, 1C, oh no, how entirely heartbreaking and horrible. "We'll act with love, but you know you're repulsive, right?"

Hellion of Troy

Someone once told* me something very close to letter #5.
Reader, I married him.**

*It was an email
**not really but we're still together 6 years later so, pretty good right?

elbows on the table

@Hellion of Troy Did you have a quiet wedding? With only he and you, the parson and clerk? And when you got back from church, did you go into the kitchen of the manor-house, where Mary was cooking the dinner and John cleaning the knives?

Hellion of Troy

@elbows on the table Bingo.

elbows on the table

@Hellion of Troy I just want you to know I giggle-snorted here. Loudly. My coworkers think I'm crazy.

dtowngirl

I really, seriously, love this.

wolfy

We must not discount the possibility that, when D occurred, said man didn't know that 5 existed, sitting as it was at the bottom of an envelope that he thought contained only a very sweet present. And so when D happened, he had no idea of its callousness and inappropriateness. It may have only been much, much later, cleaning out his room, that he discovered 5, long after the time to respond had passed, and knew not how to feel...only that many, many things had suddenly become clear.

I admit that that's not as good a story, but it's sadder in a way.

theharpoon

@wolfy I'm sorry about your tongue

tealily

@wolfy OH MY GOODNESS! OH MY GOODNESS!! A little piece of my faith in humanity has been restored.

tamarbouta

5 ripped me up.

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