Lost in the Mail

All the thank-you notes you forget to mail out.

Dear Aunt Elaine,

Thank you so much for sending Tommy the adorable outfit! Our junior home-improver looks so cute wearing his little “Tool Turtle” sleeper — we’ll have to send you a picture.

Sorry I didn’t get this note in the mail to you sooner — the past few months have been pretty crazy! But I hope we get a chance to catch up over the holidays.

Again, thanks so much!


Dear Mom-in-law and Dad-in-law —

Thank you so much for your gift of a new wristwatch a few years ago. I don’t think I ever told you how much I appreciate it.

You’ve seen me wear it — a snappy black-faced analog with silver trim, Indiglo and a faux-alligator strap. You were wise to give me money to pick it out for myself, since I don’t think I finally bought it until six months later!

But it was such a generous way to mark my college graduation. It meant so much to know you cared for me, and that you had already welcomed me into the family (even though Stace and I wouldn’t be married for a few weeks yet!)

I just wanted you to know how much you both mean to me, and that the watch is a wonderful reminder of you. Thank you.

Your grandson says hi, and we’re all looking forward to seeing you soon!



Dear Sir or Madam:

Thank you ever so much for creating the perversely catchy “Thank You Very Much” television commercial for the Volkswagen Passat. It has been stuck in my wife’s head for the past week. It is quickly driving her insane, and she is taking me with her. She’s now searching the house for heavy, blunt objects with which to bash in our skulls, just to make your music finally stop.

Thank you again, and we wish you continued success in your efforts to destroy us, one brain cell at a time.


Michael C. Duck

Dear Mr. Lavin,

I’m not sure you remember me, but you’re the reason I play guitar.

You were my music teacher at Dunlogin Middle School over a decade ago. Part of your class was (and probably still is) spent teaching a room full of adolescents how to play chords, luring us into learning by showing us how easy it was to play a few simple rock songs.

I was a geek, of course, so I always came in at recess to practice. But the pride you took in my dedication motivated me even more. While I was there plunking away one day, you told another teacher I was a “natural” talent. I’m sure it was mostly a joke, but to me, you seemed to believe it. Your confidence in me kept me coming back.

A decade later, I’ve been in two bands, written music for dozens of songs, performed in scores of shows and recorded a slew of home-produced CDs.

Thank you for helping to make music a part of my life. I hope I live up to your example.

Rock on,

Mike Duck
Graduating Class of 1994

Dear David Reinhart,

I’m not sure you remember me, but you made sixth grade miserable.

Actually, you probably do remember me, since my last name is pretty unusual. I was already meek and geeky when I trudged onto the school bus and, unwittingly, sat somewhere near you. But the name sealed the deal — to you, I was just “Ducky” or “Duckboy,” always with that mocking sneer.

Oh, you did other things, too — I distinctly remember the bus ride when you and your friend pelted me with popcorn as I slunk down, pulled my stocking cap down over my eyes and tried to melt into the seat.

But it was mostly the name. And you know what? Thank you.

I ended up with a pretty decent sense of humor, especially about my last name. By the time I left middle school, I had a powerful sense of who I was. And your tormenting helped create that. Thank you.

So someday, when my son faces his middle school bullies, I hope he ends up with a jerkwad like you were.

Best wishes,

Mike Duck

Dear Jason —

How’s it going? I’m not sure if you ever received my last e-mail; I trust things are good with the new apartment?

You know, I’ve been meaning to thank you for something you did years ago. It was when we were on that Boy Scout trip to Treasure Island Scout Reservation. Remember? I was the Senior Patrol Leader, the guy in charge of our troop of about 100 boys. And I had tapped you as one of my assistants.

Somewhere in the middle of the week, the troop almost mutinied on me.

I had decided the troop would attend a camp-wide prayer service. In part because a scout is reverent, of course, but mostly because it was a requirement for a troop merit award the camp handed out. The guys weren’t feeling so reverent that night, though: an unruly mob was forming when I tried to get everybody to assemble and head over to the service.

And you were with the mob.

I was struggling to regain control when you came up and told me as much, and I blew up. I had started to have my own doubts about whether this prayer service had been a good idea, but I also knew that if I caved in at the last minute, the boys wouldn’t listen to a damn thing I said for the rest of the week. I couldn’t afford to back down.

“You know what? Maybe you’re right,” I snapped. “But yesterday was the time to have a discussion about not going to the stupid prayer service. Five minutes before is not the time. I need your help. Now. Get these boys lined up.”

You stomped off, probably muttering something about me.

And then you stopped, turned and yelled, “Come on, guys, line up!”

I don’t think I ever thanked you for standing up for me like that, and for showing such an incredible example of leadership and responsibility. And friendship.

I know we don’t talk much these days, and I guess we both kind of grew in different ways after high school. But I wanted to thank you, and let you know I’ve never forgotten that day.

Take care of yourself. Hope we get a chance to catch up soon.


Dear Mr. Gore:

Thank you so much for your wonderful invention! Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I’ve been able to catch up on years’ worth of thank-you notes in a matter of minutes!

I’m not so sure about your new “Current TV” thing, though. I mean, I guess a cable station dedicated to video podcasts is a cool idea and all. But remember when you and Tipper made out in front of millions of people? Yeah, even that had more street cred.

Thanks again, and best of luck with your future endeavors.

Respectfully yours,

Michael Duck

Article © 2005 by Michael Duck