Monday, October 01, 2007

part deux

Dear Dan,

It’s Nathalie again. I know it’s poor form to write another time without hearing back from you, but I simply couldn’t resist. I heard you’d been in town, and in fact, I’m rather pleased that you didn’t come to see me. Not that I don’t want to hang out with you, of course, in a friendly, tea-having sort of way (as mentioned in my previous letter), but I would really rather not have to worry about your returning the invitation. I mean, I wouldn’t want to put you out of your way, of course, and while you’re welcome to have as much of my tea as you’d like, I’m thinking that if we kept our relationship to correspondence only, it might be better for everyone.

I’m still thinking about that novel. It’s only in the planning stages right now, unfortunately, so I haven’t even started with the writing yet. I’ve got some really good ideas, which I’d love to share with you, but they are top secret. I’m sure you talk to a lot of people in your line of work, and I know you wouldn’t do anything on purpose, but I’d hate to have one of my crucial plot points slip out during one of your warning calls, you know? There’d be plenty of time for the ideas to make the rounds before I even managed to finish writing the thing, and that won’t do at all. I’m sure you understand, seeing as how I’ve asked you to postpone your visit until I’m finished with this thing, and if my letters convey even a small percentage of my personality, I’m sure you want to meet me as soon as possible. I flatter myself, of course, but one is allowed a few indulgences in letters, isn’t one? Anyway, I’m not usually all that interesting.

I also haven’t been to Africa yet. I don’t think I mentioned this last time, but I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and go on safari and help people (I’m not exactly sure how, but there are ways of helping people that don’t totally intrude on their lives, and I want to do that). This trip to Africa, which is potentially on the docket for three years from now, would be really amazing, and I’d be helping people! Less work for you, right? But anyway, there’s further proof that I’m not that interesting. I haven’t even been to Africa!

Anyway, I am hoping for a continued, friendly d├ętente between us, Dan. It’s pleasant, and gives me a bit of time to wrap things up before I go traveling with you.

Thanks again,

Nathalie, age 26.

epistolary, with misunderstood recipient

Dear Dan,

I am writing to you today about the Great American Novel. You know the one: it resonates with everybody because the characters are simultaneously perfectly real and perfectly imaginary and the situations are just weird enough and just quotidian enough to make people really understand them. There’s a story arc, but the plot doesn’t bash anyone over the head, and there are puzzles, but none of that faddish cipher-and-codex crap you keep seeing everywhere after that novel-that-shall-not-be-named. It even talks about you a little bit (or maybe a lot), because you are, if nothing else, reliable and feared, and mixing trust with fear is always so titillating. Not to say that you are “titillating” per se, though I suppose there are a few people who feel that way about you. But you know what I mean, surely. You must see it all the time.

So, anyway, this Great American Novel hasn’t been written yet, but more specifically, as of today, I personally have not yet written it. Therein lies my dilemma.

Especially because I am asking you such a great favor, you may be wondering why I would address you so informally, and in fact, as “Dan.” It may interest you to know that there was this goth kid in my high school French class who always wore this hideous pale cake makeup and asked everyone to forget that his name was “Dan” in favor of your name. I thought it might be useful for me to be able to put a name to you while I was writing this, seeing as how you’re mostly conceptual and all. And for me, when I am writing a letter, it is so important to feel as though I am just chatting with the recipient, as though I were having a nice cup of tea with a friend over an extended distance. So, rather than use your regular name (which, I fear, is just loaded with portent), I thought I’d give Dan a try. I hope you don’t mind.

This bit of familiarity is not meant to suggest that we are friends right now, but certainly, that development in our relationship is always a possibility. I’d love to chat with you more (over an extended distance, like so) to learn more about you, as my future readers would almost certainly snap up a novel about you, with a catchy title of course, like, “Dan, The Man,” or “Dan, Revealed,” or “Dan of the Underworld,” though I suppose that last one is just speculation on my part. I also suppose that I’d like it to remain that way, at least for another couple of years or so.

In conclusion, I am not ready right now, and I implore you to leave me behind when you make your next trip to my little corner of the world.

Yours truly,

Nathalie, age 26.