March 12, 1997
1044 Westbourne Ave., #504
Santa Clarita, CA 91350
Dear Mr. Hinton,
It is with great wonderment and awe that we write to you today. After years of research and speculation, we at NASA are able to confidentially disclose to you that extraterrestrial life has been found. Our preliminary findings show a unicellular organism on Celestial Body RMF-GammaQ-1044, a planet in the Andromeda galaxy. This organism bears certain similarities to the amoeba but thrives in an atmosphere with elevated levels of nitrogen and helium. We at NASA, as scientists and as members of the human race, await the ramifications of our discovery. This is the first conclusive evidence that we are not alone in this universe and that life itself is able to thrive under conditions quite different from those here on Earth.
In due time, news of our finding will be made public and every person will benefit from our newfound knowledge. However, you, Mr. Hinton, are finding out a bit sooner because our records indicate that you purchased exclusive rights to RMF-GammaQ-1044 from a company called Heaven Sent Gifts. Apparently, title-holding rights to “Phil Loves Natalie” (formerly RMF-GammaQ-1044) were surrendered to you on October 18, 1995, at approximately 1:45 a.m., when you “purchased” the planetary body from a New Age infomercial called “Cosmic Feelings.” Therefore, before NASA plans its mission to the Andromeda galaxy, we must receive your explicit permission, because you are the de facto owner of this planet.
Please sign the enclosed consent form and place it in the secure envelope (also enclosed) and mail it back to us. Postage has been paid, of course. Upon receipt of your consent, we may embark on our most ambitious journey yet.
As scientists and as Americans, we thank you for your contribution to the advancement of humankind.
Very truly yours,
Walter F. Dorham, M.D., Ph.D.
March 31, 1997
Dear Mr. Hinton,
I’d like to apologize if my previous letter led you to believe we want to annex your planet. Quite the contrary. You will still retain sole ownership; we are merely going through the formality of requesting permission to “step aboard” for a week or so. Our unmanned spacecraft will enter the atmosphere, land on the surface, take some samples, and rendezvous with an orbiting spacecraft. To allay your concerns, I am personally able to guarantee that we will not disrupt the ordinary “workings” of your planet. We promise to leave RMF-GammaQ-1044 in “as-found” condition (minus the requisite soil and/or water samples).
To address your other point, we’re more than happy to promote the name of the planet as “Phil Loves Natalie” for all press purposes, but for internal documentation it’s just easier for us to use “RMF-GammaQ-1044,” because that name describes the planet’s position within the Gamma Quadrant of Andromeda. At your request, we did an informal poll around the office and most of us think “Phil Loves Natalie” has a nice ring to it. Jenkins thought you might be “trying too hard.” But Rodgers (a woman) thought it was “rather sweet.”
The discovery of new life in our universe could end all struggles. Man might cease violence against his fellow man. We on Earth could be united in our quest to understand the cosmos and the very nature of existence itself. Plus, Natalie will be so impressed that you own a planet. You can tell her you’re not just a landowner, you’re a planet owner. Pretty cool, if you ask me. Just sign that consent form, Phil, so we can get started on this.
Walter F. Dorham, M.D., Ph.D.
April 14, 1997
When I said that “Phil Loves Natalie” was a great name for a planet, I didn’t know that you guys broke up three years ago. Given this new information, yeah, I guess it is a little pathetic. Jenkins thought it was “still mildly charming,” but Rodgers found it “creepy and unnecessary” (and she’s a woman).
Your refusal to sign that consent form is frustrating. Why would keeping a planet “untouched” mean that “your relationship remains pure and untainted”? So what if you two watched Mystic Pizza a few years back—what does that have to do with a planet that’s five gajillion miles away? I bet if Natalie were standing here right now, she’d say, “You know what I find really sexy? Signing consent forms.”
Though I don’t know Natalie as well as you do, I’m sure I could put together some basic surveillance at the request of the man who is allowing us to visit a planet he owns. If you sign that consent form, Phil, I can get started on learning more about Natalie. And not just little trivial things like the fact that she shops at Wet Seal a lot, buys only organic breakfast cereals, and really loves the Outback Steakhouse.
April 29, 1997
Per your request, we’ve found out that Natalie is, in point of fact, seeing someone else. A tallish guy named Clive. And, since these letters will become a matter of public record 10 years from now, I will take this opportunity to say that we will not maim or incapacitate him in any way. And, yes, that extends to members of his family, including pets.
Our surveillance records indicate the following:
1. We never observed Natalie wearing any articles of clothing from the Watsonville Artichoke Festival.
2. She doesn’t still have your 4 Non Blondes CD.
3. The photo of you, Natalie, and Keanu Reeves was not prominently displayed like you guaranteed it would be.
Natalie has rather jejune apartment dÃ©cor, but her new guy, Clive, has impeccable taste. Surround sound, wine cellar, and a leather couch that’s warm and comfy. Rodgers said she’d “do him on the spot, no questions asked.” At this point, I don’t even give a crap about the Andromeda galaxy. I just want to hang out with Clive.
May 24, 1997
Hope this letter finds you well. Sorry about the sort of snarky tone of the last letter. I think I was just really frustrated. Clive says that I have an unnecessary need to finish what I start and sometimes I should let things go. He’s totally right. So, if you take a look at the postmark, you’ll notice that this comes to you from Memphis, Tennessee. Clive, Natalie, Rodgers, and I were all hanging out at Clive’s place watching Jumanji, which, surprisingly, wasn’t as good as I was expecting. Rodgers happened to mention that she had never been to Graceland before and Clive said that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to prove to Rodgers that I can seize the moment. Embracing spontaneity, the four of us just got up and drove out to Memphis. It’s even better than I could have imagined. Clive, of course, is always up for a good time. The other day, when we were all a little tipsy, he suggested that we swap girlfriends for the night. Initially, I thought he was crazy, but it really brought Rodgers and me closer together, and I got to know Natalie really well, too.
Just wanted to drop you a quick note telling you that you don’t have to worry about signing that silly consent form. Rodgers and I agreed that getting to that planet would be kind of a hassle, and there’s just so much to experience here on Earth. I attached a picture of the four of us standing in front of Elvis’s golden Cadillac. Clive is the one wearing Hypercolor board shorts and Rodgers is the one in the Watsonville Artichoke Festival sweatshirt.