I love receiving “real” mail. Usually I open our mailbox to find a Victoria’s Secret catalog, a water bill, three pieces of unnecessary mail from the VA for Danny, and some strange letter from Rice suggesting that the university still somehow believes that I have graduated. If I’m lucky I find one of my Netflix selections. (Anne of Green Gables! Woohoo!). Sometimes my celebrations are cut short when I realize that it is, instead, one of Danny’s picks. (The Spirit. Bah.)
Anyway. Real mail. I love real mail — when I unclog our narrow apartment mailbox and find something with a handwritten address. I appreciate the immediate satisfaction of email, and I’m grateful that I can fire up gchat and send Bee a quick note about the latest link to a ridiculous news item about a cat who can read the newspaper. But who doesn’t love receiving something that required a stamp and some forethought?
While I appreciate real mail and certainly love sending it, I’m not much of a letter writer. I write pretty slowly, and I get impatient and hand-crampy. And then I decide halfway through a sentence that I want to revise, and it’s too late! Blast! And there’s nothing I hate more than crossing out words in a letter. Oh so gauche.
So I’ve been thinking about real mail because my friend Lilian moved to Asheville, and I know that she is also a real mail person. Because I am a failed letter writer, I have been on the lookout for quirky postcards. I figure that they’re the perfect balance — real mail but requiring only a few witty sentences. I have discovered that while Borders might have a few interesting images, Barnes and Noble has a much more interesting selection.
So far I’ve purchased a few postcards with illustrations by Edward Gorey and a slew of Texas-y postcards published by the Found Image Press. A selection of my most recent purchases (and I apologize for the intrusive press logo):
But my favorite by far features a photograph by Martin Parr entitled “The Actual Boot.” Apparently this is a well-known photograph postcard — famous enough to merit a place in the title of The Actual Boot: The Photographic Postcard Boom, 1900-1920 by Parr and Jack Stasiak. (Or perhaps Parr is just a shameless self-promoter). Anyway, here is the wonderful photograph:
The note attached to the boot reads: “The actual boot the lad was wearing on Thursday June 24 at Ringmors when struck by lightning, a horse being killed at the same moment not more than a yard away.”
Lilian has a well-developed appreciation for the folksy and weird, and I know she’ll love this one when I send it along. After all, who doesn’t want to open the mailbox on a humdrum Tuesday and receive, alongside the electric bill and a circular for Target, a picture of the actual boot — a piece of real mail that is in fact an invitation to speculate on the frailty of life, the sturdiness of boots, and the ill fate of an equine friend?