I can’t wait for the Mark Twain postage stamps that I ordered online to arrive in my mailbox. I just ordered them a few minutes ago and I already wish they were here now.
If they were here, I could mail up to 20 letters to friends in other cities, or even this city, and put his face on every single envelope. And then, the next day, or the day after that, when the person I mailed one of the letters to receives that letter, she’ll notice the unusual stamp in the right-hand corner and smile, a small or even big, toothy smile, thinking to herself, my friend is so whimsical. She might even save the envelope to put up on her refrigerator so that she can show her other friends in the city she lives in what a fun faraway friend she has. And by sticking it to the fridge with a magnet, she’ll also show them her excellent taste in literature and in truthful, funny quotes that bear reprinting on greeting cards or tacking on to the ends of important speeches and toasts.
Maybe she’ll have a party and one of her non-female friends might pause before retrieving a Red Stripe and tip his head sideways to get a closer look, wrinkling his forehead slightly and smirking in a non-sarcastic way. He will very likely be memorizing the return address across from the stamp that features the face of his favorite writer of all time, even though he has only read one and a half of his books. Later, he may leave the party, running the five numbers in the zip code on the envelope over and over in his head to make sure the mailing address to which he is going to send a witty postcard is correct.
He’ll probably rummage through his closet to find the postcard he spent the latter half of the party with the Red Stripe thinking about and when he does find the one he wants, the one with the black and white picture of a person dressed as a polar bear sitting in a docked canoe, he’ll feel no doubt whatsoever that the person to whom he is sending the postcard will understand what it means. For that reason, he won’t explain it in the limited amount of space next to the recipient’s address. Anyone who uses Mark Twain stamps understands art and symbolism and cross-referencing and humorousness, as is anyone who notices a Mark Twain stamp on an envelope or fridge and does not return to whatever they were doing unaffected.
When the postcard gets dropped in the mailbox the next morning, the friend of my friend will likely whack its blue side with his hand and kick up his heels in an excited march or strut or lunge or some combination of the three as he heads back toward his bicycle, which he rides to work everyday, light rain or shine. As soon as he locks up his bicycle at the parking meter across the street from his office, he’ll pull out his iPhone and pull up a Wikipedia entry on everything Mark Twain but he won’t be able to concentrate on more than 1-2 hyperlinked sentences at a time because he’ll keep feeling pleasant stomach flares in anticipation of my receiving the postcard. He may search for Mark Twain impersonators and storytelling events, since he’d heard about one once and, at the time, thought it sounded uncomfortable and odd, but now felt it might be the most romantic and profound event a person or two people with seats next to each other could ever attend.
He’ll find what he was looking for and he’ll cut and paste the link into a blank email draft that he’ll save with the title “Twainsies” and then, as he steps out of the elevator onto his notably sunlit floor, he’ll feel a Mark Twain quote come upon him, something about truth and lies, but he won’t know exactly how it goes because he doesn’t have that kind of useless freak memory. He’s very likely smart in more qualitative, meaningful, yet also financially brilliant ways and also very probably has dark black hair and a perpetual tan. His tan, one would imagine, is the genetic kind, not the self-made kind, which means his kids will most likely also be tan and not be born with skin that is sensitive to things like the sun or foaming face wash or chance social encounters with denim-wearing coworkers or another human being’s equally sensitive, occasionally inflamed cheek.
Having been born with skin like that, he probably won’t have developed the same neuroses or anxieties or even character that people with eczematous skin have. In fact, probably his sense of humor will be the sort of obvious kind, where he laughs at farts and people with poor balance. This will be OK for a while, because his efforts to find smarter, cleverer things amusing might be endearing. He may overexert himself, laughing too loudly during The Royal Tenenbaums, which everyone knows isn’t an audible laughter kind of movie, and nodding too forcefully while streaming episodes of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, which you’re not supposed to nod during because it’s not THAT exciting. But as time goes by, his idiotic nature will likely reveal itself, publicly, during potluck brunches when topics like music and the meaning of life come up. It may slowly become more impossible to continue loving him just because he thinks Mark Twain is “a wonderful writer” and one day, long ago, wanted to share that “knowledge” via the postal service. Sure, that could almost be enough, on good days.
But on shitty days, he might make a person want to un-bookmark her twainquotes.com page, put her copy of Huckleberry Finn out on the sidewalk in the FREE! TAKE! box on Sunday, when it’s legal to do that, and use up the last of her Mark Twain-isn’t-even-his-real-name Forever stamps, even though they are, in fact, guaranteed to be usable for eternity, on electricity bills and those envelopes on which postage is not even officially required if mailed within the United States. Such a person’s raft will, likely, have sailed.