Brief Letters to People Who May Never Hear These Truths

Posted on October 12, 2011 by


By Anthony Dean-Harris

To Every Woman I’ve Ever Encountered Who Wonders Why I Won’t Call
(Especially My Grandparents)

To Whom It May Concern (Generally people with two X chromosomes):

I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re receiving any correspondence from me at all. Outside of random Facebook posts and face to face conversation, I know you rarely hear from me. I don’t want to seem distant, other than the fact that I likely do. I’m rather detached, you see. Over the years, I’ve realized that I’m most amiable when there’s a medium between myself and other people. This makes me spectacular at email and instant messaging but horrible at direct communication in person unless there’s an already established rapport and rhythm established.

However, the telephone cannot be that medium. I hate the telephone. Hate. Everything about my demeanor on the phone is about trying to get off of it as quickly as possible. I don’t quite know where this odiousness came from, but just know that I have it and frankly don’t want to change it. It’s cheaper to have the smallest minute plan for my cell phone anyway. Compound this with the fact that unless I see you regularly, chances are I’m not going to reach out and talk to you through some other means (this would be even worse for you if you aren’t on Facebook, what can I say– out of sight, out of mind), if you’re waiting for me to call you on the phone, you’re going to have a rather long wait for a very unsatisfying phone call.

If by any chance you’re related to me, this means your wait will be much smaller than any other woman in my life, but that wait time for a phone call will be once every two or three months. I suggest you cherish it instead of using every phone call I make with you to prod me into calling you more often. This doesn’t seem to be a good use of your time.

To Every Interesting Person I See on the Bus With Whom I’d Like to Befriend

To Whom It May Concern:

Trust that I think you’re a fascinating person. You wear rather cool sneakers, which is always a selling point for me because I judge everyone by the dopeness of their shoes, and this also carries across to your general perceived demeanor. While I may not know of the book you’re reading nor the author, the fact that it isn’t something from Stephanie Meyer or Glenn Beck or something else as equally moronic gives you the semblance of erudition which is an attribute that I don’t run across quite often since I left college. You also don’t give off the impression that you’re unemployed, also a good selling point. I’m trying really hard not to have excessively high standards in a city that I find relatively insufficient, especially since I’m looking for friends on public transportation. Not that I’m saying that you’re not an exceptional person. However, I’m likely not going to strike up a conversation with you because I find that talking with people on a bus is astoundingly awkward. I not only need an opening salvo to initiate conversation with some of my dearest friends, I need to anticipate the course of the next three moves in the conversation. Considering I hardly know you at all other than the fact that you have good taste in t-shirts, I really wouldn’t know where to start so please just take note that as I stare at my phone awkwardly, I think you’re sort of cool.

To Every Person in a Wheelchair Riding the Bus

To Whom It May Concern:

I know this makes me look like a dick but every time I see you on the bus, I can only think of the time being wasted while the bus must lower its hydraulic lift and extend the ramp to let you on the bus. The way this city has a pliable relationship with time, I know that most folks don’t feel the same way, but I know that just losing three minutes in the afternoon on one bus can translate to me waiting thirty more minutes two blocks away because I missed my connecting bus home. I of course feel guilty because you’re in a wheelchair, that is unless you’re just in the chair because you’re fat. I know even saying that makes me seem even more dickish, and once you’re in a wheelchair, you can only continue a vicious cycle of continued obesity because it’s not like you’re capable of walking the weight off anymore, but you’re certainly not an Iraq War veteran who’s missing his legs either so I don’t feel as guilty ticking off the minutes in my head and the notches of battery on my phone that I’ll lose because it has to stay on longer, piping music into my brain so I don’t have to focus on you and your issues and your commute. And where are you going anyway? I have this vague feeling it’s not to a job.

To Most of My Students I Encounter When Not at Work

To Whom It May Concern:

I am only contractually obligated to be nice to you 19 hours a week (and I’m only halfway decent at that). I can only entertain your uninteresting life details for so long anyway and that’s when I’m being paid for it on top of correcting your horrid grammar. Do not be surprised that if we don’t already have a great rapport that I pretend I just didn’t see you. I’m not that crazy about the students I tutor knowing my beer selection at Central Market anyway. And dear God, please don’t let me run across you at a concert somewhere. I’ll definitely gravitate to the other side of the venue the moment I see you.

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