The following letter has been edited for length and clarity:
Dear Paper Expert,
I have a huge problem. Terrified of them. Freak as projectiles with no trace of origin or source down the hallway so removed. Snuck back into the office over night. Marcy fell.
Okay, I think I edited that wrong and now I can’t help the reader. I should never edit letters for length or clarity. I got a pretty good idea that his letter was probably a lot clearer than what I’ve ended up with here after chopping away at it. I have no idea what to say to him. He’s like, “Terrified freaky sneaker Marcy office hallway.” I’m going to have to pass on this one altogether, I think. I mean, it’s just crazy talk at this point. This is the problem with having a column. You start getting the crazy people writing to you all the time. “Dear Paper Expert, sneaky screamer is removing hallway trains! Marcy pee pees!” I mean, what am I supposed to say to the guy, you know? You’re kind of damned if you do and damned if you do and damned if you don’t with a guy like this. I could write some random weird reply to him, I guess:
Take care of Marcy and pee on your sneakers to stay the night!
But that might be the thing that sets this guy off, you know? So you just end up not addressing it and hoping the guy goes away, which also feels a little awkward. Alright, let’s find a short letter and move on.
Dearest Paper Expert,
p.s. This is not resolved with, “why not paper?”
Who is this? Shut up. What’s he even mean? I’m sorry. I’m trying to stay awake with diet pills and orange soda. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to write the new column right now. I love you. Seriously. I like the letter and I feel thin now. And better about myself, maybe I didn’t at first and was a little hard on you, Paul. Thank you for this.
Dear Mr. Kennedy:
I used the latex gloves ($3.49 at harbor freight tool). No problems with the paper, but the neighbor’s dogs bite me when I toss the mail in. HELP. Triple gloves?
Dear Bill Russell,
I lived with my parents in a host of suburban neighborhoods not unlike most young people. And one day, I suppose I was fifteen, an insurance agent called and asked for “Bill Kennedy.” And I told him he had the wrong number. And he apologized and hung up. The phone rang again and again this voice is asking for Bill Kennedy. And I tell him there is no Bill Kennedy at this number. And he confirmed the number he was dialing. It was our number. And so I said, “Well, that’s our number. And that’s our last name. But, there’s nobody in our family named Bill.” I told him there was a Dan Kennedy and a Lori Kennedy and a Russ Kennedy. My dad walked in and I told him the guy on the phone was looking for somebody named Bill Kennedy.
And my dad said, “That’s me.”
“Your first name is Russ,” I said.
“Well, Russell is my middle name. And I go by Russ, but my first name is William.”
And I envied the mystique he had cultivated in our little suburban household. And I wanted to compete. I stood there trying not to be too taken aback. I briefly considered telling him that I was not actually his son or that I was actually a woman, but as my dad, he had the upper hand in a ruse like that and I was left with no reply except:
“Oh. Alright. Well, Bill, there’s a call for you.”
And I handed him the phone.
That is to say, yes… triple glove. Wear four pairs if you need to. Anything to set yourself apart from the others and cultivate a certain mystique.