..Jon Simonds..

The Basically Brooklyn Series

Remember when we used to write letters? I'd come home from school, drop my books on the kitchen table and race downstairs to the mailbox. The big turn of a little key opened the door on a handful of mail.

I'd rush through it as if it were a deck of cards and find a letter from you - addressed to me with a Bic Ballpoint pen in your best handwriting, script.

I'd go upstairs, drop the mail by the books and tear open the envelope flush with excitement and I'd read. I'd read all about what was going on in your life and laugh at all the funny stuff, sadly tear up when things weren't going well and always - always make the time between homework and bed, to sit at the table - the one with the books and the mail and even the crumbs (if I missed a spot) and put paper to pen writing you back.

Did you know they don't teach penmanship in school anymore?

I still have those letters. They've been archived in a little shoebox kept in the back corner of the top shelf in my bedroom closet. No one can hack into them - delete them - give any one of them a virus.

Why do you suppose they don't teach penmanship in school anymore?

I was thinking about all of this today as I sat on my couch, eating a roast beef sandwich while this little saucer on the floor hummed and whirled it's way around my living room pretending to be a vacuum cleaner. It bumps into this and bumps into that, changing directions every time it bumps into something. It's a loaner from the Vacuum shop where I took my old upright in for a cleaning and repair. The guy behind the counter wouldn't let me leave without it. He called my old upright an antique and thought I would love the vacuum cruiser. I thought I could buy two or three uprights at a Target for the price he attached to this vac-cruiser. He said it was quiet, I wouldn't hear it and I guess it is although with the dog barking, nipping and chasing the darn thing, I'm not sure I can really say.

Before taking this marvel of modern technology, (I tossed a piece of cheese in the middle of the floor to see if this self propelled saucer would ever find it, but the dog got it first) I asked him if I had to sign anything. He said no, explaining he ran my plastic through a reader for a deposit on my repair. He had everything he needed and as such there was nothing to sign. I wanted to ask him what school he went to and if they taught penmanship when he was a student, but I thought I knew the answer because I didn't see a pen in the store.

I thought about checking the mail today, but it's usually just full of junk mail, or, advertisements or things from collection agencies addressed to people who haven't lived here since the bank took the house and put it on the market at a remarkably low rate for anyone who wouldn't need a loan to buy it. In the meantime, they rent it to me through a broker at a rate not so remarkably low. But as I once wrote to you in a letter, I don't have any money anyway and I suppose it's smart of them to keep it that way. Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking our IM conversations, the quick email I get from you, or seeing the latest Facebook pictures of you and the kids. Technology today is almost like reality TV. All those people, collecting data and viewing our lives and turning all of us into Viagra salesmen.

Do you have any idea when they stopped teaching penmanship in school?

I'm sorry. I guess I miss your letters. The world just seemed a little warmer then, but it's winter. There's snow in the driveway. I hate shoveling. Do you suppose I should open the front door and let the dog chase the vacuum cruiser outside?

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