Sunday, August 14, 2016

The handwriting looks so very familiar, and I'm reminded of 1984 -- the year, not the book.

Not to mention that telltale white printer paper -- far from commonplace, right?

Thanks to P for the hilarious "familiar" headline comment, and let's come right out of the gate with clarity: Who doesn't love genuine, tactile, anonymous fan mail with a real postage stamp?

You get so little of it in this electronic age of ill behavior on social media.

I'd previously scheduled a two martini Saturday evening, and subsequently enjoyed an entertaining Facebook discussion of my fresh new mash note, one culminating in my being first trolled and then blocked, to the vast amusement of us all.

That's modernism, but I'd already become nostalgic for ancient times -- so very long ago that New Albany had a newspaper covering New Albany (whoa). Nostalgia is a feeling best indulged in moderation, unlike the martinis fueling it, but I'll risk the digression.

Chronologically advanced readers will recall that the "bullying" began during the decade of the 1980s, when I was known to submit frequent “letters to the editor” to the New Albany Tribune. One of these days, I’ll dip into the bulging banker’s box downstairs and unearth fragments of the archive, but for now, just one example should suffice to make the point.

In late '83 or early '84, after writing a letter to the 'Bune in opposition to one or another of Ronald Reagan’s reactionary conservative excesses, I received a small, tidy envelope in the mail. There was no return address of any sort, only a New Albany postmark. In those days, you wouldn't think to shake a suspicious envelopes for white powder or similar residue.

I shrugged and opened the envelope, finding crude, palsied, superannuated handwriting on a small rectangle of spiral notebook paper. The message was brief and to the point.

Jesse the Revolutionary
Or Killer Kennedy
Who is your choice?

The note wasn’t signed, and so it was that two decades before blogging started, the first anonymous response had arrived to brighten my day.

It strengthened my belief that anonymity is a fundamentally malicious affliction undertaken by the chronically dysfunctional to exact vengeance on those who are envied for having the integrity to stand behind their words, thoughts and opinions.

Ironically, with a primary election approaching in 1984, this anonymous note helped sharpen the decision-making process, and when prompted, I duly cast my ballot for Jesse "The Revolutionary" Jackson.

Alas, Ted "Killer" Kennedy did not appear on the machine.

Later, checking the primary results -- one of the lawyers who congregated at the liquor store brought me the sheets from the clerk's office -- it became apparent that I might have been the only Democrat in my Georgetown precinct to opt for Jackson. Perhaps there were two or three Jackson votes in the precinct. Memory sometimes slips.  

Gary Hart narrowly defeated Walter Mondale in the 1984 Indiana primary, and I'm proud nonetheless to have selected the sort of radical calculated to induce pain in the sort of person who'd take the time to write me an anonymous letter.

My only regret is being unable to let the writer know about Jesse.

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