In the old days -- say, fifteen or even twenty years ago -- there were three options to get a hold of someone, and let them know what was going on in your life. The telephone (wildly expensive for anything other than local calls, plus, there was generally one phone per household and you did not pick up the phone every three minutes and call someone to discuss something trivial, like, American Idol). And if you got a long distance call the entire house stopped since it was generally bad news; ie, someone had died or gotten drafted into the Korean War. The telegram (more bad news). These were transmitted to the local Western Union office and a messenger showed up via bicycle on your doorstep to deliver it. Or, you wrote a letter or a postcard.
In a retro frame of mind, and with Valentine's Day right around the corner, we thought we would give some advice on how to write a love letter.
Right off the bat, with all of the forgettable cellphone, email, twitter and IM nonsense going back and forth, if you take the time to write anything longer than two sentences, put it in an envelope and send it via US mail, you are way ahead of the pack. In the old days (forget your parents' generation, say, five years ago) people still wrote letters. Now, only those with an eye toward posterity do.
Type it, so that he can read what you are saying. Be like Marilyn Monroe and scrawl your name at the bottom with great abandon, as if you are a Hollywood star. Give the impression this is no big deal: you send dozens of these notes to your admirers. (Which you probably do.)
In regard to content -- here is the beauty of the entire endeavor -- in some ways, it almost does not matter what the note says. It can be four sentences, it can be two and a half pages (single spaced) of whatever is on your mind. You can discuss Descartes. You can discuss a great pair of shoes you saw in the window at Bergdorf's. If you are entertaining enough, it does not matter.
Whatever you do, do not mention the word "love" in the letter. Do not tell him how great he is (that is for him to tell you), do not tell him you miss him, do not thank him for being in your life, do not ask him where the "relationship is going" (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz), do not ask him: "does this make me look fat?"
If you are feeling warm hearted, thank him for his friendship. This will keep him off balance. (Friendship? He will read it and think to himself. And then start to get very, very worried.)
Other topics include: you are packing to leave for Paris, but wanted to get this in the mail; you are en route to Paris; you are in Paris at this very moment; the Red Sox made the playoffs.
Similarly, do not sign it "love" unless you are engaged. In that case, all bets are off and you can do whatever the heck you want.
Be sure to write "PERSONAL" on the back flap so that his secretary/assistant does not open it by mistake. Marilyn spritzed her letters with perfume but personally (unless he is serving in the armed forces overseas), we think this is a bit much.
Send it to the office. Men find the combination of businesslike (his typed address on the front) and personal (your note inside) particularly compelling.
And let's face it: most guys working in offices are bored out of their minds, and just looking for something to break up the monotony of the day. If he gets an actual letter in the mail and realizes it's from you, forget it -- he can close the door, ask his assistant to hold his calls, open it carefully with a letter opener (remember those?), put his feet up on the desk, and take his time reading it.
Once he has read it a few times (with his feet still up on the desk), he will fold it back up carefully, look out the window at the sky for a while, and think of what a lucky S.O.B. he is to have you in his life. He might then take the letter from his desk again, carefully reread it, and have a very Cary Grant Moment.
And anything you can do to make a man feel like Cary Grant in this day and age, is not to be underestimated.
Follow Pamela on Twitter: @PamelaKeogh