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Billets Doux


by Wendy Wimmer


Dear Guy with iPod on the 7:20 train in from Berkeley,

Do I know you?  Except that I know that I don't, because I don't know anyone in California yet.  So you're a mystery to me.  One that I will figure out.

Sincerely,

Nancy Drew (aka Liz) 
 

Dear Cubicle Desk,

What the hell is the greasy stuff that you keep getting on my pants? Where is it coming from? Why are you making me feel so inept and stupid?  Also, do you think you could be MORE exposed to the world, the way you're positioned so my ass faces back into the department? It's a feng shui nightmare.  You're too low, too. It's not ergonomically acceptable. 

Regrettably yours,

Liz 
 

Dear Owen Meany,

You've ruined me for all men.

Keep passing the open windows,

Liz 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

On the ride home, you looked at me and did that eyebrow raise thing that people do when they recognize someone from somewhere. Who do you think I look like, iPod Guy? The girl who sells you your coffee? The fifth clarinet in marching band, the one who couldn't walk and also play Souza at the same time? Do you wonder what I'd look like with braces and maybe I could be her? Or maybe I'm the girl who used to babysit for you when you were eight?  Maybe you just think I'm cute.  Maybe.  Or I buttoned my shirt wrong again. Tomorrow I'll pass you a note that says  

      Do you think I'm cute?

      CHECK ONE:  

      ( ) YES   (  ) NO  (  ) MAYBE 

Sincerely,

Liz

PS. Kidding!

PPS. ( ) YES   (  ) NO   ( X ) MAYBE 
 
 

Dear Crazy People On BART,

You're very unnerving sometimes. The way you carry on conversations with no one and if I listen long enough, they almost start to make sense and become somewhat beautiful, like a bunch of you are going to have an impromptu poetry slam or something on the East Bay 5:45.  I always have to check to make sure that you're not secretly Lou Reed wearing a fake mustache or dressed as an old woman.  Also, how do you all manage to smell like urine and somehow also Fritos?  I am mystified.

Swearing off Fritos forever,

Liz 

Dear iPod guy,

I keep thinking I know you. Maybe not, but it just makes me wonder if you're the kind of boy who gets lost in the bookstores in the Mission or if you get dizzy when you smell eucalyptus trees too. 

Sincerely,

Silly girl on the train 
 

Dear Mssrs. Anderson Cooper, Guy On the Verizon Commercial and Henry Rollins,

In the past few weeks, several people have doubted your sexual orientation when I've mentioned that I thought you were hot. This is just to let you know that I refuse to believe them and you're still my Silver Fox Boyfriend, my Can Do Boyfriend, and my Scary Punk Tattooed Yet Sensitive Spoken Word Boyfriend, respectively.

Kisses on your naughty bits, 
Liz 

Dear Liz,

Just when you think you have a boring life and this city is wrong for you, you'll see a man walking down the sidewalk wearing assless chaps and a cape, and no one will even blink. 

Remember that.

Love love love,

Liz

PS. And also, you look very nice in the long skirt and pointy Manolos.   Damn! 

Dear Mattel,

So how's that whole “Screwing Up the Self-Image of Young Girls and Confused Boys with Freakishly Proportioned Fashion Dolls” thing working out for you? Great. Listen, you should really think about giving Ken a unit. Age 13 is NOT the time to find out that boys don't sport a small hard plastic nub. I'm just saying.

Thanks, 
Liz 

Dear iPod Guy,

Ok, I've decided that you and I knew each other in a past life.  Maybe we just keep repeating over and over because we can't get it right. Maybe this is one of those times right now.  Maybe I should talk to you. Maybe I should ask you what you're listening to on your iPod.  Maybe I should go out and buy an iPod so that you'll have your white ear things in and I'll have my white ear things in and we'll look across the aisle at each other and smile.  Maybe I should stop being silly.

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear Weekend,

I want to get naked with you right now. I mean it. I want you so bad. I want to lie in bed with you, in my flowered boxer shorts and ignore all of the stuff I need to do around the apartment. I want to paint my toenails with you. I never want to let you go.

Sincerely, 
Liz 
 

Dear Aspertame,  
Okay, are you REALLY bad for me? I keep getting e-mails saying you'll give me MS or Cancer, but then I also hear it's total crap. So tell me, are you going to kill me or what? Consider your answer carefully while I drink this Diet Coke. 
Thirstily,

Liz 
 

Dear Argyle Sock,

I was experimenting.  I was kind of freaked out by the last Laundromat I went to which was apparently in the Tenderloin, where I am pretty sure that a hooker was turning tricks in the bathroom. So I tried a new Laundromat, one closer to the Mission. But really, all Laundromats are the same, right? The smell of chlorine is still there, the weird fuzziness of the corners from tons of accumulated lint. The spew sound of the washers finishing their cycle. There was even the requisite college girl doing the wash in her pajama pants.  And I was ok with the fact that I was the only English speaking person in the place who was also wearing a bra. But I lost track of which dryer was mine and threw two socks into someone else's dryer. I tried to tell him that he had my socks, but he didn't speak English and the only Spanish word that comes to my brain for “sock” is profil├íctico. Thus, I lost two socks, including you.  Come back, pinky argyle with the green line through the diamonds.  Please come back home.  Lefty and I are waiting.

Leaving a light on for you,

Liz   
 

Dear Ofelia Higgins,

Much to our shared dismay, I do not in fact have a penis and therefore cannot take advantage of your e-mailed offer to enlarge it. However, should the need ever, er, arise, I will certainly let you know.

Ksielja, 
Liz 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once upon a time, we were ancient. We were Vikings, set out to explore a new land. You were Gunther and I was Torvald and we had a love unrealized by other Vikings, but we had to keep it a secret, because we were at sea in a very small boat and tempers flared at the drop of a hat. You know, one of those helmets with horns coming out of them? Yeah, those. Don't drop one, it puts a hole in the boat. But it was a fine life. We'd steam up the sauna with our own heat and then retire between skins and feed each other gravvlox and lefse from our fingertips. And then one day, you got into a fight with the minstrel and even though you were favored with 3 to 1 odds, due to your size and sexy flaring nostrils, the minstrel somehow skewered you with a pickle fork and went on to be called Ewald The Fighting Minstrel, while I was left alone to put loganberry flowers on your pyre and swear that we would be together in Valhalla. And then I knocked Ewald on the head with a big rock and ran off into the fjords and froze to death.

Sincerely,

Liz 

Dear Left Bra Strap,

Please stop slipping off my shoulder.

Sincerely,

Liz 

Dear Guy With Green Bay Packer Vanity License Plate On His Hummer,

I realize that “PACKER” was probably already taken when you went to the DMV and maybe you panicked, never even imagining that someone else in California would have already claimed it for their own, and you were standing there at the counter with the million mouth breathers waiting in line behind you and the pressure was on. I understand. But “PCKER”? Think next time.

Sincerely, 
Liz 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once we were children at a Montessori. You were a paste eater and I had just had an accident and was walking around wearing a pair of borrowed sweatpants. You asked me if I wanted to help you build a fort with the big cardboard bricks, and I said ok. So we did. Later I watched in fascination as you used the leftie scissors. Then I pinched you and you called me a wiener and we never talked again and I grew up and you grew up somewhere else and you started a company that made parts of industrial machines and I got married to an accountant and volunteered at a library and learned the Dewey Decimal system.

Sincerely,

Liz 

Dear Bartender at the Irish Bank pub,

I have seventeen twenty-dollar bills folded neatly in my bra because I don't want to carry a purse, so why won't you let me start a tab so that I can pay you later, after I've had a chance to visit the unisex bathroom and dig the wad out from under my boob pit?  Because you know my assy friends forgot to stop at the ATM.  

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear God,

Is that iPod Guy from the BART? He's not wearing his glasses and he doesn't have his iPod!  How can I be sure? Give me a sign, God!

Thank you for these thine gifts that we are about to receive, Amen,

Liz 

Dear God,

He left.  With a girl.  So much for mysterious ways.

Jesus wept,

Liz 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once you were a double secret agent and I worked for the Kremlin and wore dark glasses and it was the fifties and I had a dark mole that hair grew out of because there were no Tweezermans in all of Mother Russia, but it was a sexy mole nonetheless. You liked it. Or at least one of your double secret agent personas did. And then I found out that you were a double secret agent and I was supposed to kill you and the broad shoulders of the KGB were coming but I couldn't. We ran, hand in hand, and caught a train that snaked through the winter landscape until we reached Poland and then laughed in a bar and drank vodka until we got alcohol poisoning and died.

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear Guinness Dark Something Blargety Blarg,

Man, are you gross! And why won't my mouth stop watering?

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Der Bar,

You are the best bar EVER!  And also, a very bad bar too! Very bad!  And good!  Woo!

BAd !

LIZ!

SS. Shots are bad. Don't do shots.  LIZ!  DON'T DO SHOTS LIZ! Remember that. 
 

Dear Chirpy Birds Living in the Trees Across the Street, 
Shut. The. Fuck. Up. 
Thank you.

Liz

PS. This goes double for you, Nocturnal Chirpy Bird. 

Dear Liz's head,

Stupid.

Sincerely,

Everything below Liz's neck 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

Where were you today?  It's Monday? 

Sincerely,

Liz

PS. Maybe that wasn't you at the Irish Bank pub?  Because I just don't think she's your kind of girl, with the big fake boobs and hooker manicure.  
 

Dear iPod guy,

Actually, forget I said that. I can't go on like this anymore.  I don't care if that was you with Hooker Hands. You're right.  We should see other people.

Best regards,

Liz 

Dear Fate,

Great. I can see A Prayer For Owen Meany sticking out of iPod Guy's messenger bag.  Clearly this means that we are soul mates. Are we on the same page here, Fate?  Are you with me?  Fate?  Is this thing on?

Sincerely,

Liz

PS. Did I read that book on the train or not?  I can't remember! Did he notice?  Argh! 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once we were living on the plains in a sod house and you wore broadcloth shirts that I sewed with big long loops of thread and I wore a petticoat made from a flour sack. You slaughtered a pig and we had to think up ways to use every single bit and you blew up the bladder and tied a knot in it and then we played volleyball, me tripping on my skirts and you with your shirt off, suspenders rubbing your nipples raw, until the cow broke loose of her tethers and you had to chase after her. Through a nest of rattlesnakes.

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear Stupid Job,

Downsizing who what now?

Sincerely,

Liz

PS. I'm totally taking my stapler when I leave. 
 

Dear Fucking Job,

Ok, it's been two hours and I'm not taking it personally anymore, as the e-mails have been flying all day and apparently the magic number is 91.  I've been sitting in Union Square since the riffing, watching tourists and reading e-mail on my Blackberry, which apparently I get to keep as a parting gift.  I am glad that I moved across the country to pay a thousand dollars a month to live with a skeevy roommate who bogarts all my Trader Joe stuff to get the axe with two months of severance pay.  Yeah. 

Living the dream,

Liz 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

I got on the train to go home, I looked around to see if you were there. And for the first time since I got fired, for just one brief moment, things didn't suck and I stopped feeling like someone had stamped a big cartoonish VOID across my forehead. But you weren't there.  I think I took an earlier train than normal, since I wasn't catching it from Embarcadero but rather from Union Station, so it threw off my timing completely. So it's my own fault. And I'll never know. Maybe you would have said something. Maybe you would have smiled at me and I wouldn't have burst into tears, I would have smiled back and said hi and you would have said hi and then maybe you would have asked if I wanted to get coffee with you and you would have gotten off at my stop and we would have had tea and talked about goofy movies we've seen and how we both hate country music and then maybe we would have gone out for crepes or burritos or an independent movie or drove up to Napa and laughed at all the yuppies and lived-happily —ever-after-the-end. 

Maybe.

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once we lived in the Paleolithic Era. I was a tribal leader and I clubbed you over the head because the way your ass looked in a deerskin made me grunt and jump up and down and I couldn't think until I got some of that. You were a woman and didn't like getting clubbed in the head and didn't talk to me until after you were nursing our infant and had another one the way. You set up a complicated water delivery system so that we didn't have to go out of the cave. I couldn't understand it but it was beautiful. Truly beautiful. And then I got crushed by a wooly mammoth.

Sincerely,

Liz 

Dear Liz,

I thought we agreed that doing shots at the Irish Bank bar was a bad idea. 

Retchingly,

Liz 
 

Dear Chirpy Birds,

I think I can buy a gun, but I don't think I can aim it well enough to hit you and not the hippies that live across the street. Curse you, Chirpy Birds.  Curse you!

Oh So Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear Shaggy and Scooby,

Why the hell do you two always team up together and let Fred take Daphne and Velma by themselves? How is splitting Guy with Two Girls, leaving Guy with Dog a fair shake? Or is Fred actually being sexist in considering two women as much help as Scooby? Also, maybe you should not go scouting for snacks in those old rundown houses. Not only do you often run into scary monsters and the like, that food can't be too fresh.  Maybe go for a salad next time.

Sincerely,

Liz 

Dear iPod Guy,

Do you notice that I'm not on the train anymore? Just wondering.

Sincerely,

Liz 

Dear Starbucks

So, the plan is to get up every morning, get dressed like normal, jump on the BART, and go into the City to get a job.  The plan is NOT to stop at one of your eighty bazillion locations and spend more of my quickly dwindling severance check.  So, yeah, that's the plan.  So tomorrow when I come in and order my standard venti nonfat no whip mocha, could you be a sweetie and just say “Um, no”?  I'm glad that we are both in agreement.

Weak but adorable,

Liz

PS. You're putting crack in the coffee, right?  That's why it costs so much? 
 

Dear Crack,

Is there something better than you? I have no interest in crack myself but people look at me funny when I say something is the televised Kate Spade bag or the pastry Manolo Blahnik or the singer/songwriter version of a BMW.

Sincerely,

Liz  
 

Dear iPod Guy,

Smile.  Eyebrow raise. Prolonged eye contact. Tummy flutter.

Hello you.

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once we were trees in California, giant redwoods. Your leaves would whirl around my roots and I would creak and bat my limbs at you. We stood through centuries, always eighty yards apart, never able to intermingle our limbs. I would blush each year that I lost my foliage and you would growl in a way that only trees can growl. And then we were gone. Stupid root rot.

Sincerely,

Liz 

Dear Sarah Jessica Parker

You might think that I am still having residual bitterness over the fact that you married my boyfriend Ferris Bueller, but I still must tell you that I think you look like a praying mantis.

Sincerely, 
Liz 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once I was Judy Garland and you were Clark Gable and it was 1939 and I was working on a little picture called The Wizard of Oz and you were one set over, doing that big Civil War picture, and we hid in the back lots and exchanged torrid glances at each other until Jimmy Stewart yelled at us. You asked me to kiss you and I did and your mustache smelled like cigars and I told you about the midgets looking up my skirt and making jokes about how ruby slippers reflect up. But then you misunderstood my thing with Mickey Rooney and were hurt. So we kept on making movies and got married to other people and made babies and money until Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles ruined everything. I saw you again once in Vegas. I was doing a show at the Aladdin but by then you were an alcoholic and I was pretty much just stringing from one pill to the next but we both looked at each other and smiled and if there was a God in heaven, Mickey Rooney had one of his heart attacks right then.

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear Gainful Employment,

Remember me?  Hello?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear skeevy roommate,

I'm putting an ad on Craigslist.com to find someone to sublet my room.  Hope you get someone cool and who will let you smoke pot in the apartment. Sorry.  I'll e-mail you my forwarding address when I get back home, but until then, here's my parents' address and their phone number.  In case anyone stops by for me or anything.  Not like they will, but, you know, just in case.  

Sincerely,

Liz 
 

Dear iPod Guy,

Once we were sitting on a train in San Francisco. You have little white earphones in your ears and your head bowed down, watching the beat of your fingers drumming against your leg. Your Paul Frank messenger bag is tucked behind your feet and you need a haircut and I wonder if you aren't one of those Dot Commers that work in an industrial loft and take motorized scooters to meetings in SoMa.  I am alone, a glorified office drone from the Embarcadero, posing like some Mary Tyler Moore fantasy in Banana Republic and knock-off Marc Jacobs. I watch everything, too busy thinking up silly things to entertain myself so that I won't have time to think anything else, watching the sun dapple in staccato rhythm against the seats with the rails murmuring beneath our feet and it is one of those rare moments when everything is exactly where it is supposed to be, me, you, everything.  There is a brief breathtaking glimpse of the Pacific and a golden glow turns the famed hills into a perfect Disney backdrop, and you, the one person who seems real through all of this, are sitting right there across the aisle from me and I think, for a moment, that maybe anything is possible. Anything.  Then the doors open.  

Sincerely,

Liz
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