Saturday, December 11, 2010

Epistolary Affairs & Realities…


I seem to be in the mood for historical reflection on modern times, today. So, I'm thinking about all the apparent weirdness of how folks, via the 'Net, with some text, a few crappy photos, perhaps eventually a phone call, form deep bonds.

This ain't all that new, as strange as it now seems to see two people that have yet to meet face to face, decide that they are friends, or even love each other. I'm probably not the only one that has wandered this virtual realm long enough to even see a marriage or two result. Weird, yes. Not unprecedented. Anthony and Cleopatra did it. That was about 2,200 years ago, when a letter from the suitor had to travel over mountains on horse back, across a great sea, and thence across a desert… and, almost a year later, he got a reply. Those two correspondents did make a fine love story in their endeavor, shook an empire, failed, but we remember them today.

About two millennia later, guys got on whaling ships from the coast of New England. They'd write home to their mother, ask about eligible young women back in town, ones that might like to marry them when they got home in three years. Then they'd wait for some random ship to come by, one that happened to be working its way back to Boston, or wherever, and pass on that letter. Then they'd wait for another random passing of a small ship on the Atlantic, and maybe they'd get an answer, and the process would repeat for about thirty months. Then… they'd get home and marry Gretchen Farmer, or whomever, and soon depart to leave her a widow to the fortunes of the sailing life.

Soon after, my grandmother from Russia came to these shores. She needed a husband. A man needed a wife. Some mail went back and forth to the old lady that managed these affairs back in the shtetl, and all was arranged. Pretty quick, Sophie was managing Szolmon ben Simon's affairs in America, and I eventually got my name via the mail, forty-nine years later.

A while after that, American guys got the US postal service to deliver mail order brides from the Philippines and Ukraine. Yes, much confusion, great sex that was too brief and ultimately calamitous in its aftermath, common divorce, and protracted dealings with the INS ensued, but none of this is unprecedented in the affairs of men and women on planet Earth.

We may have replaced scribes, horses, camels, and sailing ships with keystrokes, still, how else but by text, letters, did The Queen of Sheba hook up with my namesake?

Well, as Sam Clemmens observed, history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Hic Finis Est



  1. Another fine piece Steven. By god, you are a writer!!!

  2. You are kind… and who the hell are you, my friend? I'm too lazy to play kid detective, tonight. Email me, if you care to.

  3. Ah, figured it out, my friend. Never mind. Tho, it would be cool to come clean with whatever crew that signs on here.

  4. A word to the wise, ssol...remember Griffin and Sabine.

  5. ...but wouldn't it be lovely if hearts could remain forever on the correspondence plane? To soar free unbound by Nebuchadnezzar's feet of clay? I think it would.

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