Category Archives: fictionish

Dear David Sedaris

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Dear Mr. Sedaris,

You have the dubious honor of being the recipient of the 4th fan letter I’ve ever written in my life.

The first letter was sent when I was 10, to Phil Collins of the band ‘Genesis’.  It was 1985 and his third solo album, ‘No Jacket Required’ had been released.  I had received the LP for my birthday, and although I can’t recall exactly how I felt about the actual music, I became enamored of the picture on the front of the album – an orange-tinted glowing image of Mr. Collins’ head.  It floated in the black of the album cover like an orb of light.  Perhaps it recalled the comfort of a nightlight I had as a small child, or perhaps the sorrowful look in his round, baby-face features appealed to my sense of Dickensian anguish.  Regardless, I was convinced we were meant to be together – with the confidence in romance that only lives in the naïve heart of a bookish and nerdy prepubescent Jewish girl growing up in Westchester, NY.

I composed a letter that detailed my vision for our future together. “I hope one day we can go roller skating together,” I wrote. I even typed it out to be sure he could read every word clearly. This was likely my mistake, for as I neglected to mention my age during the course of the letter, I can only imagine the assumption that it was from an adult. “If you are sad, you can talk to me about it,” is an invitation that sounds worryingly sinister unless being delivered by the soft innocent voice of a 10 year old. Even then, it’s borderline.

Not surprisingly, I never received an answer. A restraining order would have been more likely. Years later, I felt compelled to try again, this time lowering my expectations.  Besides, they eventually stopped selling real roller skates.

Letter #2 was an amalgamation of poor timing and an inability to edit my own work in a judicious manner. In 1992, during an espresso-fueled adolescence and while reading a number of Isaac Asimov books, I became convinced that I may be a brain-washed experimental time-traveling space cadet, and in retrospect I realize that my self-diagnosis was at least partially correct. I began to write what became a series of half-completed letters of explanation on the validity of my dilemma to Mr. Asimov, stressing particulars about what the Year 2000 would hold, (coffee mugs would get bigger, jacket lapels smaller)and seeking his advice. Unfortunately, I wavered over certain details and whether to sign the letter with my own name or under the pseudonym ‘I, Superfan’, consequently missing the opportunity for the letter to be delivered to Mr. Asimov while he was still alive. My postmark was only a week off, but it was a decisive week.

I won’t get into the details of my third letter other than to note I learned the hard way that Liza Minnelli does not appreciate fan letters accompanied by a shipment of fresh pineapples carved into the likeness of her mother Judy Garland’s face.

Given my previous fan letter mishaps, I should have learned a hard lesson about the impossibility of a co-mingling between celebrity and obscurity. And, yet here I am again, attempting to connect with an artist whose work I greatly admire. Your latest book is your wittiest, most touching and unyieldingly personal yet, but I have been a fan since ‘The SantaLand Diaries.’

In fact, despite the likely remarkable number of differences in our backgrounds and personalities, you might be surprised to know we come from similar humble beginnings – I also was a Santa Elf. Although I was not 33, I was 15 (perhaps a more conventionally acceptable age for an elf).  It was my very first job: taking Polaroid pictures of young children in the middle of the mall as they sat on the lap of Jolly St. Nick, amid animatronic deer and squirrels. I soon learned that the jolliness of one of the Santas was directly related to how many swigs he had taken of the small metal flask he kept in his jacket, but his warm slushiness was preferable to his co-patriot, who growled when we let the children sit on his lap too long.  Later, he accidentally revealed a swastika tattoo on the top of his bald head when removing his Santa hat for the day, thus demonstrating the true equal opportunity employment position taken by the Jefferson Valley Mall.

You have gone on to become a highly-respected and iconic voice of your generation and I have relocated six times within the state of Delaware in the past 10 years; both journeys of some consequence.

If you have made it to the end of this letter, I will have finally achieved a level of success in my fan letter writing, not to mention won a bet against my husband. Please feel free to let me know – a dinner at TGI Friday’s is riding on it.

Sincerely,

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Filed under Essays, fictionish, happy holidays, letters, Stories, Writing

Dear Woody Allen

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Letter to Woody Allen, (director) from Frances Spector, (housewife).

Dear Woody Allen,

First, let me apologize for the lateness of this letter. You would have had it in your hands weeks ago were it not for my ongoing wavering about how best to address you in the salutation. Naturally, I started with ‘Dear Mr. Allen’, but that sounded too formal and vague – as if I were writing a letter to my lawyer or the manager of the supermarket down the road from where I live. I actually wrote the latter gentleman a note last week after I discovered four bruised plums in the grocery bag I brought home from his store. The plums were on special which is why I bought them, but obviously were either handled too roughly by the clerks who packed them for me, (I’ve seen them juggling grapefruit in the past) or they were too old and should have been thrown in the trash. Either way, I was out four plums and felt compelled to bring it to the manager’s attention. His name is Mr. Herndon, not Mr. Allen, however.  In my letter, I demanded restitution and proposed nectarines. I am awaiting his reply. My husband laughed and suggested I would get more satisfaction from a face to face discussion, but I want a paper trail in case it gets nasty. My friend Bernadette almost got into a fist fight with the woman who owns the nail salon over an infected toenail cuticle – now she’s forced to do her own pedicures.  And, believe me, she needs a professional.

My second thought was to address this letter as ‘Dear Woody’, but that felt somewhat too intimate, as well as ambiguously pornographic.  Besides, I can’t think of Woody as a first name anymore without calling to mind the cowboy from the ‘Toy Story’ cartoons, which is irritating. How does one acquire a name like Woody? Was it a childhood nickname? I believe I read on Wikipedia that your real first name was Allen, so I’m curious about where the Woody came from. The only childhood nickname I have was one my father gave me – ‘Snooch’, although I can’t recall the etymology of the moniker. I’ve probably blocked it out – it was rather embarrassing to hear the word ‘SNOOCH’ being yelled through the supermarket or drugstore when I was a child and have to answer to it. I certainly wouldn’t incorporate into my professional name if I needed to create one. ‘Snooch’ Spector sounds like a character on a children’s show wearing a trench coat and searching for clues to solve an alphabet mystery.

I settled on ‘Dear Woody Allen’, because I’m used to seeing your name printed as such and ‘Dear Mr. Woody Allen’ was getting a bit long. Truly, the exercise of settling on a salutation took much longer than expected. However, as you were not expecting this letter at a certain time, my apology is probably a moot point, so let me launch into the purpose of my note.

I am writing to you with an idea for a new movie. It’s only really a germ of an idea, but I feel in your capable, creatively genius hands, it could grow into an Cannes Film Festival Special Selection, or whatever that other one is that Robert Redford puts together where everyone is wearing Uggs and pom pom hats.

The movie is about a woman who worries she is turning into her mother – a common enough fear amongst women of a certain age. But the twist is that she actually TURNS INTO HER MOTHER – literally transforms into a duplicate of the same person. I’m imagining a ‘Freaky Friday’ meets ‘Zelig’ type of picture. I’m not quite sure what happens after the transformation – but I suppose there could be a number of scenes in which the two women show up at the same restaurant or store, but are never in the same frame with one another – causing confusion and hilarious consequences.  I’m sure you could come up with a few more plot twists using this device. As for the ending – I’d like your thoughts on whether the story is a metaphor for coming to terms with getting older and accepting one’s ongoing struggle to maintain an identity outside of pre-determined genetic or environmental influences – or if the whole thing turns out to be a dream sequence.

Like any good story, this one is in part, autobiographical. I am reaching an age when one begins to take on characteristics of one’s parents, despite one’s initial best intentions. I am beginning to see many aspects of my mother’s behaviors in my own. For instance, never a meticulous person, I have become even less concerned about straightening up around the house. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, when I first mentioned my movie idea to my husband (don’t worry, he’s the only one I’ve told), he suggested the woman turn into something more useful, like a vacuum cleaner.

Despite my husband’s sarcasm, I am confident this film could find an audience among a certain group of devoted movie-goers – most likely females in the 35-55 age bracket who obsess about whether or not to cut bangs in their hair to hide the fine lines on their foreheads. I’d be happy to sign on as an on-set creative consultant as well, to help answer questions about the lead character, such as how many PTA meetings she attends each school year versus how many she claims to attend and whether she’s ever contemplated leaving her husband and children for a life on the road with a traveling theatre troupe.

Please respond at your earliest convenience with your availability for a sit-down meeting. Although I do have an email address, I’ve forgotten my password so many times, I’ve been locked out and haven’t had the desire to call customer service and waste precious moments of my life on hold listening to an acoustic version of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, so phone or snail mail works better for me.

I do hope I will hear from you soon. Sadly, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, the Cohen Brothers, and Sophia Coppola couldn’t see the incredible potential in this idea – but no one does neurotic misanthropes like you anyway.

Sincerely,

Frances Spector

PS: Although I am open to suggestions, I am thinking Winona Ryder for the lead.  She seems to be looking to make a comeback and I feel like she could use the work.

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