Scott Yost is taking a well deserved break from column writing this week. We bring to you a classic from June 5, 2014.
I’ve been cleaning out a lot lately and one long-forgotten box that I happened across the other night had every love letter that I’ve ever received in my life.
I feel pretty confident in saying that I have every love letter I’ve ever gotten because I have a bad habit of not throwing anything out, and I’m especially inclined to hang onto every scrap of physical evidence that involves a woman declaring her undying love for me and droning on and on about how amazingly wonderful I am.
Now, over the years, I’ve held onto all those cards and letters and eventually thrown them into this box. In addition to the letters to me in the box, I found some copies of love letters that I had written and sent. Usually, before I sent a love letter or any importance, I made a copy for myself as well as for posterity, whatever that is.
One thing I noticed in several cases reading back through the letters was that many of my ex-girlfriends really needed a copy editor badly before they sent their letters out. One letter, for instance, thanks me for the “wonderful diner” when in fact I had just bought her a meal, not the entire restaurant.
One good thing about holding onto love letters is that they come in very handy at the bitter end of a relationship when everything is falling apart. It’s good to have those letters when the woman who was once your ideal embodiment of perfect and endless love has transformed into the lying, cheating witch who is leaving you.
In my experience, it’s at that point that having the love letters becomes very important. I’ve found that, at those times, if you’ve hung onto their love letters, it’s a very good thing, because it’s helpful at that point to have a signed written record of their claims of undying love for you so that you can throw it back in their face when you are finally having it out once and for all.
You know the drill: “Look, Scott, it’s not you, it’s me. We’ve just grown apart. I still love you, just not in that way.”
The new kind of love that she’s referring to is the kind of love where she just wants you completely gone from her life so she never has to hear your name or see your face again as long as she lives.
Now, normally, if you haven’t hung on to their cards and love letters declaring their undying love for you, you would be at a huge disadvantage because, you know, what could you say to her?
However, if you’ve kept her love letters, then you can whip them out at that moment and say, “Oh, so you don’t love me anymore, huh? Well, maybe you can explain this then! I ask you, did you, or did you not, in a letter dated Monday, March 5 of last year, a letter that, I might add, is signed with your signature – not to mention sealed with lipstick remnants of a kiss – say, and I quote, ‘Scott, my love for you is undying; I will love you forever, for as long as I live, no matter what. And I swear that nothing will ever change that or come between us.’ Well, did you or did you not write that!?”
And then when she tries to interrupt and make her petty excuses, you can cut her off and say, “I want you to pay particular attention to the fact that, in the letter, ‘forever’ is underlined, and you ended your sentence declaring your eternal love for me with, not just one exclamation mark, but three! Would it refresh your memory to review the document!?”
“Listen, Scott, I know the things we said to each other, but – ”
“It’s a simple yes or no question! I ask you again: Did you or did you not write that letter? The one I’m holding in my hand. I remind the witness that she is under oath.”
You know, if you’ve saved her love letters then you can always use that line of attack, and, when she’s leaving you, you have physical evidence that proves to her beyond a shadow of a doubt who is right and who is wrong.
Though I should mention that, in my experience, this is not always highly successful in getting them to actually admit that you are right and acknowledge that they should keep loving you as they clearly promised they would.
Still, it does give you the upper hand in the argument to have the letters because it shows that they clearly misled you with their empty, if, at the time, compelling words.
At times, women write something that makes you think you should have known all along that they were going to leave you. Here’s a framed love poem that one girlfriend gave me a long time ago …
For it is through the miracle of love
that we discover the fullness of life.
I have a commitment to you,
a commitment written in the wind,
giving you my love as I live.
When I first got that from her, I thought it was really sweet, but, after she left me, I read it another way. I was like, Really? A commitment written in the wind? Because I think it might have worked out better between us if you had written your commitment “in stone” or “on granite.” The wind seems like kind of an ephemeral place to be recording eternal statements of undying love for people, but, in hindsight, I guess her wording all makes sense. You know, she was just wisely covering her bases.
Now, reading through all these letters, one after another in a single evening, was fascinating from an emotional standpoint. I laughed, I cried. At times it was really so painful that I had to take a break for a while.
At other times, I faced mass confusion. There was one woman, Rebecca, that in my letters I swore my undying love to, and I literally have no idea who she is. I can’t remember a thing about her, and I don’t even remember ever knowing a Rebecca in my entire life. But my letters to her were all like, “I will never ever forget the first night that we met or the first time that I heard my name roll off your wonderful perfect lips.”
You know, it’s like really funny if you think about it, that I literally have no idea in the world who it refers to and I promised her I would never forget anything about her. If it were post-2007, then I could have looked it up on my Facebook timeline and at least seen pictures to help jog my memory, but since this was from a time before every single instance of your life was recorded, there is simply no way to know who I referred to as my perfect soul mate that God created especially for me.
(Rebecca, if you are out there and reading this, I am just joking about not remembering you. Of course I remember everything about you, whoever you are. P.S., if you are hot you should give me a call so we can catch up on old times. I think about you often.)
In the box, I found one love letter that I got from a student while I was teaching philosophy. At that time, I was just a few years older than the students in my class.
The student sent me an anonymous letter that was typed on a typewriter so that I couldn’t recognize her handwriting. That fact, along with a few white out corrections, made it look amazingly like a ransom note. The letter said:
Dear Mr. Yost:
If you only knew
how many times I have watched you.
You casually toss at me
Is locked in my head.
Every time you say my name
I start shaking …
Now, keep in mind that, at the time I was getting these letters, I had no idea who it was, so I was flattered, but, you know, I would look around the room and try to guess who it was, and that was scary because in every class there is always the one in the back of the class who looks like Stephen King’s Carrie with her hair up in a bun looking like she is ready to explode and set the prom on fire at any moment.
And while the letter is flattering on one level, on another level it sounds absolutely psycho.
You know, in hindsight, with a letter like that, I’m lucky she didn’t kill me rather than what actually happened.
It’s also, by the way, the only love letter in my life that I got that starts off, “Dear Mr. Yost.”
Now, the sad thing is that reading through all these years and years of cards and letters mostly brought back heartbreak – with the exception of only one woman: Amy from Texas, whose letters not only made me smile, but brought back all encompassing feelings of pure joy.
Let me tell you why. In all the other cases, as I read through the letters, it was a bittersweet memory. It was like, well she was nice or that was fun – but in the end she broke my heart or I broke hers. Either way, it ended badly and there was a whole lot of pain, and the memory of the relationship is highly tainted by that ending.
But not, on the other hand, when it comes to Amy from Texas, of whom I have nothing but fond memories.
We met while we were on a group sightseeing trip in Europe. For 39 days, we were whisked through many countries. The first time we kissed was, literally, on a perfect moonlit night on a bridge in Venice with violins playing in the distance. From that point on, we were inseparable and wildly in love for the whole trip.
We never fought or disagreed or exchanged a harsh glance. There was simply nothing to fight about. We were just two people on a pre-paid excursion going from one fabulous romantic European setting to another. There was no work to do – there was only play and wine and chocolates, song and dance and train rides through the snowcapped Alps, and sunsets over Madrid. It was absolutely one of the best times I ever had in my life.
I mean, she was funny and bright and beautiful, and the whole experience was genuinely magnificent and perfect from start to finish. There wasn’t time enough for things to turn sour or time for me to even begin to see her as anything even slightly less than magical.
At the end, at Heathrow, her plane left before mine did. She said she didn’t want to get on the plane, and I told her that if she didn’t she would regret it, maybe not that day or the next, but soon and for the rest of her life.
We wrote and I still have the letters but we never saw each other again. We never went through a breakup so I have no bad memories associated with her.
She went on to become the lady who promotes rice throughout the state of Texas. That’s not a joke or anything – she was really the Texas rice lady, promoting rice for the Texas Rice Council or something like that. She would go on TV shows and newscasts in Texas and demonstrate how to make various rice dishes.
You can’t see me as I’m writing this but I have this giant grin on my face right now, because there is a lot I don’t remember about my life, but I remember very well every single wonderful detail about Amy from Texas.
Now that’s how love should be right there. You might say that maybe I should have married her, but I have a feeling that, if that had happened, I wouldn’t be writing about her in this way right now.