Why I Can't Look After Patches: The Reference Book

Great Personal Letters for Busy People: 501 Ready-to-Use Letters for Every Occasion was in my inbox this morning: a new reference book to add to the collection. I'm afraid I've been reading it like a novel on my breaks ever since.

On first opening it I found:

"Dear Pastor Murphy,
It's been such a pleasure listening to your sermons these past few months. I can't tell you how delighted I am that you chose to settle in our parish. I'm sorry only that we haven't gotten a chance to know each other better. Will you be our guest for dinner on Saturday night? I'll be making my grandmother's fried chicken, and Herb has promised to whip up one of his famous tortes for dessert. You needn't bring a thing except maybe a hat, as we'll be eating on the lawn if the weather's nice..."

[Occasion: "Inviting Clergy to Dinner"]

"Dear Victoria,

I cannot thank you enough for the flawless technical support that you've given me over the last couple of months. The slides that you created for the Glazton presentation were a big hit, and the multimedia extravaganza unfolded on cue with perfect precision..."

[Occasion: "Appreciation of Technical Support"]

After a deeper perusal, I landed on


Sounds like you and Michelle have a great trip lined up. I could use a couple of weeks on the beach myself. With the way things are going at work, though, I won't be taking a vacation anytime soon. In fact, most nights I'll probably be working past eight. That's why I can't look after Patches while you're gone..."

[Occasion: "Declining a Request to Petsit"]


"Dear Dave,

I can't help cringing when I think about our argument at the ball game last weekend, about what a self-righteous blowhard I was...

[Occasion: "After an Argument with a Friend"]

...and so on. I haven't had this much fun paging through a book of letters since Joe Wenderoth's Letters To Wendy's. My first reaction was self-righteous horror (or blowhardism?): Can't people put down their Uncrustables long enough to write a nice note to the new clergyman these days? But then: who really wants to put her brain towards writing these kinds of sentences?--and these kinds of sentences are often expected and even successful, appreciated, loved.

I am reluctant to place Great Personal Letters for Busy People: 501 Ready-to-Use Letters for Every Occasion on the print reference shelf, where it will no doubt go unnoticed, gather dust, and ultimately be weeded away for lack of use. It's wonderfully browseable, and I would like to place it in the humor section, or in fiction (Could it be remarketed as a trendily wry novel called The Letter Writer?).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Occasion: Declining an Invitation to Petsit

Yours truly, Michael Vick

Occasion: After an Argument with a Friend

Sincerely, Aaron Burr

These are asking for poems.