Thursday, May 26, 2016

Know why they call handwriting cursive? It makes you swear.

The hand-written envelope arrived last Tuesday, in the regular mail, addressed to my wife Helena.

Demonic possession was something I could not rule out.
It was a smallish envelope, maybe 3x4 in., and up in the top right corner, a Canadian postage stamp.

The only other clue hinting at where the letter came from was the handwriting.

And it was mine.

My own messy personal scrawl, with funny little swirls and indecipherable strokes, stared at me from the middle of the envelope.

It was like seeing my own name appear on call display.

But I sure hadn't written no stinkin' letter to my wife.

Helena wasn’t home at the time but our friends Chrissie and her daughter Gwyn were visiting. Just to be sure I wasn't completely nuts,  I went to the kitchen, found some paper and a pen and wrote, as naturally as I could, Helena’s name and our address.

I showed Chrissie and Gwyn, asking, "would you say that the same person produced these two addresses?"

They both answered yes.

Here’s where my brain went next:

"I. Don't. Like. This. One. Little Bit."

I did a quick mental inventory of my family and close friends. None have handwriting like mine.

After that? The lamest grasp at the thinnest straw in the history of mystery solving.

I know a guy named Patrick Flynn who used to analyze handwriting professionally. He proved to me how people with similar penmanship share personality traits.

(Patrick was also a devout Catholic. I once asked him what Jesus’ handwriting would be like.  Pat said he could only guess but was pretty confident Jesus’s signature would start with a very big first initial, the  sign of a super-huge ego. My signature’s like that too: A big P followed by a long squiggle. But I digress.)

Here went my next theory: One of  Helena's closest buddies is named Louise Hamel. I don't recall ever seeing Louise's handwriting so it could be like mine. And I like Louise a lot and who wouldn't want to share some of her traits? She’s generous to a fault, creative, and well-travelled. She’s brilliant and funny and kind. And hey! We both like Helena.

Louise's son is getting married and I knew Louise was throwing a shower this weekend. And my phantom envelope was the kind you might send an RSVP in.  If my theory was right, maybe this envelope carried a little reminder from Louise. 

Told you it was lame.

Plus, Louise is extremely hard-working, focused when need be, well-organized, health-conscious and an excellent manager..

Ixnay on ouiseLay.

Finally, I was forced to move into what I'm calling my Stephen King-sized theory, a place I didn't really want to go.

What if, I asked myself,  I had actually written the letter to my wife? But forgot.

What if—in the middle of some dark night  that I’ve buried in the abyss of my subconscious—an evil Mr. Peter Hyde for some reason decided to jot down a few choice words aimed at, rather, meant for, the missus.

Who knows what a person might do in his sleep?

Or after, maybe having his drink spiked?

Did I mention that the envelope was sealed?  

My next question: "What would be the harm in the contents of this envelope never seeing the light of day? Heck all kinds of stuff goes missing around this house."

Before I made up my mind, Helena arrived home. We had agreed to attend a sort of concert and it was time to leave the house.

I slipped the nasty letter into my jacket pocket and we climbed aboard my motorbike for a quick ride downtown.

Our friend the professional violist  Douglas Perry had invited us to a dress rehearsal of the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan which is something neither of us had ever experienced. 

The performance was mystical and unpredictable. It was also the perfect eerie background music for the mystery that played on in my brain. (Click here. Let the Gamelan provide the soundtrack for the rest of this story.)

After the show and back on the bike. I suddenly remembered that when she's riding,  Helena’s hands often find their way into my jacket pockets. (We’ve been married a long time. It’s for convenience and warmth.)

I pulled over, grabbed the envelope  and made a pre-emptive strike.

“Ha ha!” I laughed, adding, “This arrived for you today. Ha ha! Look how similar the handwriting is to mine. Isn't that silly?"

She agreed. And opened the letter.

What she said next is exactly what I hoped she would not say next.

“You did write this."

“It’s a thank-you card. From Glenda!”

It all came back to me. 

A few weeks earlier, I attended a surprise party in Sudbury for my cousin Glenda.

As a gift for Glenda, my sister Mary purchased a stack of thank-you cards, stamped envelopes, and asked each arriving guest, if they were leaving a gift, to write their names and addresses on an envelope, making it very easy for Glenda to send out thank yous.

I had forgotten all about Mary’s kind gesture. And I'm sure I'll remember it forever.

But I will go to my grave wondering if a version of the  following conversation didn't take place somewhere.

“Darling! Before you open that! I was high when I wrote it and didn’t mean a word of it! Please!  I'll just make it simple and go now."  

Or maybe it's just me.


  1. Your story only works in a multi-universe setting and what do you know about theoretical strings and quantum stuff.

  2. Your story only works in a multi-universe setting and what do you know about theoretical strings and quantum stuff.