In the Season of Valentine


Dear Stephanie,

You don't know me, but I kind of met you at the Laundromat last Sunday afternoon. I was the guy who asked you whether I could do a load of colored clothes in hot water. I had on the Grolsch T-shirt and the army boots. Anyway, I got your address from the lady at the counter. She let me peek at the check you wrote. I hope this isn't too intrusive. I won't bother you if you don't write me back. I just need to ask if you have any interest in hanging out sometime?

I'll tell you a little about myself. I'm sort of an astronaut. I'm 46, single, and live alone not too far from that Laundromat. I get the feeling you live alone too, judging by what all you were washing. I mean, I didn't see any guy's stuff, or kid's stuff. Maybe you have a roommate, but you seemed like the loner type. I am too. Not the weird kind, I'm just shy and don't do well in social situations. Plus I have a glass eye from a car accident. A lot of people say they can't tell, but I think they're just being kind. It's not even the same color as my good eye. They didn't have the right color at the time so I took whatever they had. Then one night I got drunk and tried to spray-paint it and I messed it all up. Now they won't let me return it. Anyway, if it bothers you I can wear a patch.

I should probably explain the thing about being an astronaut. I'm not employed as an astronaut right now, I just plan to be someday. For now I'm still working the back room of Men's Wearhouse. But I'm super into outer space.

Anyway, I was wondering about getting together with you. Do you like guns? My cousin knows a place on the East Side where you can pay a few bucks at the door and go in this guy's basement and shoot firearms at a bunch of mattresses piled up against the wall. It's a one-time entrance fee and all the beer is free.

Maybe if you don't want to meet right away we could just begin by writing each other, sort of like pen pals. If you don't want to write something lengthy, you could send a postcard. I'll send one back. I write on the picture side of the postcards, do you? I figure that's what people are going to look at anyway, why not put the writing there. My mom, when I was in the service, used to send me postcards with no writing on them at all. The pictures were cool, though. They mostly came from casinos in Vegas. My mom died two years ago in a plane crash in Detroit. Someone taking private flying lessons crashed a plane into a retail parking lot where she was retrieving shopping carts.

One nice thing that came out of that, however, was that I got life insurance money allowing me to clear a debt with a tattoo artist who had done some amateur taxidermist work for me. He's better with tattoos than he is at stuffing animals, but you should still come and see my badger collection.

 I live over by the bottling plant just beyond the new police impound lot. My address is 113 Clatter Street. It's a gray house with a fire and smoke stain on the front right side. There's a weird story associated with that that I'll save for later.

Well, I won't make this much longer. I just wanted to know if you're interested in hooking up. Not in any sappy romantic way. I don't want to make out or anything. I just want to go do stuff together. Let me know. If I don't hear from you within a couple of weeks I'll assume you're not interested. By the way, I'm hand delivering this because I want to make sure it gets to you. Oh, and you're not finding it in the mailbox because you have a security building. That's why I had to wedge it in the screen of your second-story bedroom window. It's not a creepy thing, I just wanted to make sure you got it.

Hope to hear from you soon. By the way, my name is Rick, but all the guys at work call me "Stoner." 

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