Last month I was considering retirement. I was ready to hang my paper-expert hat and run away to Colorado and ski for my remaining days—and then I did the math and realized that, God willing, I have something like 14,640 days remaining. Which is, like, $588,000 in lift tickets alone, and so I stuck to my budget and am back from Colorado after, well … five days. So—again, assuming all goes well and according to plan—it means I have 14,595 days left to help you with any problems you may be having with paper and paper-related products. So let’s get started and stop wasting time….

From: “Cullup, Rob”
To: Paper Expert
Subject: Paper
Date: Mar 22, 2004, 10:29 AM

Dear Dan,

I have a problem with paper. My office is too warm and muggy, causing all sorts of curling and distortion. We have found that a eucalyptus-based paper seems to perform better than even a laser-guaranteed stock. Is there anything you can suggest, and is the eucalyptus stuff really better or is it just the hippy coming out in me?

Yours in anticipation!
Rob Cullup

Dear Rob,

The part of your e-mail that really caught my attention was the three-paragraph disclaimer that the company you work for tacks on to the end your message. I’ve deleted it here in the interest of space, but it went something like this: First, it flattered me by calling me privileged to the information in the e-mail. Then it warned me what could happen if I were to forward the possibly confidential information on to any other party. And then it said a whole bunch of other legal stuff that I couldn’t make head or tail of and couldn’t justify spending money having a lawyer review. Suffice it to say, you needn’t worry about the hippy coming out in you. You’ve got The Man on your back so hard that you’re in absolutely no danger of the hippy getting a leg up, brother. And don’t think I’m pulling some .net/.org ghetto hipster judgment on you, because I’m in bed with The Man, too. I’m not one of those people against it, frankly. Even cavemen knew to barter favor for fortune (note to ed.: need to find research—I’m flying by seat of pants on this) with the richest organizations of men in their … mountain … cave … cavern … ous … in their area. But what’s been getting me down is the humorless voice that things like cell-phone conversations and e-mail disclaimers tend to take on as we move forward and age. That’s what I’m opposed to. And I’m currently in the habit of dumping eleven bucks a morning on something called a venti caramel macchiato, an orange Odwalla, and a blueberry Bliss Bar just to try and have some fun in the face of what feels like a wave of gray, sensible, humorless, pained so-called adulthood that is trying to kill us all. I know my weekday morning diet makes it sound like I’m living in a Willy Wonka wonderland surrounded by Teletubbies and making my morning uptown commute on a hovercraft made of gingerbread, but nothing could be further from the truth, Rob.

Turns out, the land of adulthood is not so enchanted. And it generally takes me the better part of a twenty-spot’s worth of flavored coffee and baked goods for me to even warm up to trying it on for size for just one more day. As you may already be able to tell, something has gone horribly wrong at the world headquarters of little Danny Kennedy, Mr. Cullup. Turns out, having stopped washing down easy-to-get pain relievers and antidepressants with whatever well drinks were on special each night has me—five years later—waking up to the fact that I’m in my late thirties and surrounded by adults. I’m like the confused bear that researchers have sedated and tagged and measured while a National Geographic camera crew looks on. And here’s the thing—just like the bear who wasn’t supposed to come to so quickly—I don’t like what I see, Rob. And if I could mix metaphors for just a minute, I’d like to say this: I have stolen a spoon from the mess hall of this tame and normal prison I find myself in, and I am spending my free time digging my way out. And one day the guards/screws/pigs/grandpa/Thai stick—okay, now I don’t even think I’m using correct prison terms for a prison warden—are going to walk into my cell. And when they try to wake me and pull back the covers on my cot, they’ll find nothing but a basketball covered with human-hair clippings that I copped from sweeping up the prison barbershop. And the basketball head will be at the end of some dirty laundry pushed and lumped together to look like my body sleeping peacefully and serving its sentence. And somewhere off in the distance, in a little world called “freedom-from-adulthood-sad-ego-driven-gayness,” you’ll hear my laugh: ahhhh-hahahahahaha. In other words, yes. Eucalyptus-based paper will perform better in a humid environment. And in regard to your having tried laser-guaranteed stock: I hope you’ve gotten my point that there are no guarantees. We just have to keep following our dreams.

- - -

From: Kim Bosch
Date: December 11, 2003, 10:15:29 AM EST
To: Dan Kennedy
Subject: Paper

Hey Dan,

Do you ever dream about paper?

I had a dream the other night that a friend of mine was getting married and I wanted to send the best kind of homemade card that politely said, “Don’t marry! Your life will be over because she’s a crazy bitch.” And I spent most of my dream looking for the right kind of paper and markers to construct my card.


Dear Kim,

I do not. And in regard to your question, I wouldn’t spend too much time looking for the right kind of paper and markers. If I’m not mistaken, common law provides guests with the opportunity to speak now or forever hold their peace once at the ceremony. Having said that, I can tell you that cute girls who drink open-bar champagne and vodka until they can blurt out midceremony sentiments similar to yours are called “ex-girlfriends” where I come from. Now relax. Plus, I don’t think my fiancée is crazy, Kim. God. Why won’t you just wish us the best and let us be happy?

- - -

From: Raha Naddaf
Date: December 11, 2003
To: “Dan Kennedy”
Subject: paper question

Dearest Dan,

Sometimes I open old books to smell the dusty paper. Does this make you love me?


My dear Raha,

Yes, it does, honey. And we’re still getting married, so just ignore Kim’s letter.

We could go walking through a windy park….
Dan Kennedy