Recently, I got an email from someone that I thought was rather intriguing.
its me Aletha Deaton in Pikesville.
phone my cell-phone –
seven two 4 9 zero three one four 3 five . if you have a minute.. I miss ya sexy
The uninformed reader may believe that this poor use of grammar, sentence structure, and the completely out-of-the-blue nature of this email was the result of a spammer that somehow got around the filter. Indeed, they may also believe that it would not be a good idea to contact this number, as it is likely an attempt to phish information out of me.
How wrong they are. I knew Aletha and this email reminded me not only of the good times we had together, but also awakened a desire within me that I had not felt for a long time.
My story with Aletha began in preschool, and we remained classmates for a long time. Much to the chagrin of her English teachers, she was raised in a religious cult that held in its doctrine that grammar was a tool developed by evil forces to enslave letters. The so-called “Lettertarians” believed that human-letter relationships could be improved by discarding the notions of grammar in its entirety.
I was invited to her house for a playdate, which quickly turned awkward when I brought along a Dr. Seuss book to read. Her father threatened to burn it, freeing the letters from their torment at the hands of a cruel author who was more interested in wordplay than the well-being of the letters on the page.
Yet, I always knew that she was good in her heart. As we grew older, our time spent together consisted of awkward stares and the constant struggle of her having to articulate in a language that she was programmed not to speak or read. Everyone else became so exasperated with her, merely stating “Are you out of your fucking mind?!” But they could not understand the bond that I shared with her. It was a bond beyond words, one that I hoped would be understood but sadly wasn’t.
Aletha’s family was not only Lettertarian, but they were also under the belief that photographs were created by evil people to control the minds of those they photographed. To them, photographs could be used to manipulate one’s desires and will. As such they had no photos in their house. Though I am doing this without permission from her or her family, I have found a reasonable facsimile of her.
Yes, I remember the days in which she would let me run my fingers through her curly brown hair. It was a texture that I thoroughly enjoyed, the soft silky feel was something to be retained. Though, perhaps an incredulous reader might point out that this could be anyone since it’s just an avatar. But this is how I remember her, including the fact that she was literally two-dimensional.
As we reached our adolescence, my friendship had blossomed into something more intimate. We walked along the Gunpowder trail, searching for small beige colored rocks for her cult rituals. We would skinny dip in the water when we could, taking our youth as an opportunity to transgress boundaries. This was fully realized one fateful evening when we manifested our love for each other underneath a running waterfall. While more discerning partners would not have appreciated her abysmal grammar in the context of the throes of passion, I was enthralled by it.
However, as I grew older I learned that Aletha had enlisted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam, sending me the single email “i iz goings on this wars. shooting peeple for countrie.tell prents loove theim.” I thought her all but lost. Her family had decided to disappear off the face of the planet and retreat to a Lettertarian enclave where they could engage in an illiterate utopia.
But now she has returned to my life, and henceforth my heart. I brought it up to my therapist and she responded with “Dylan, what the fuck are you talking about? You’ve never known anyone named Aletha, there are no Lettertarians, and you didn’t have sex on Gunpowder trail while you were a teenager. Vietnam was over decades before you were even born. How the hell do you come up with this shit?”
But she will not understand. Aletha and I have something special. We will marry in the spring, according to Lettertarian customs. We will be dipped in India Ink and smeared all over a giant sheet of blank white paper to symbolize approval by the letters. The love between me and my illiterate-by-choice, two-dimensional cult member fiance will just be something that society will have to accept. My friends have come to accept this as real, though it’s always preceded by an awkward silence. But Aletha, I wish to thank you for coming back to me. I feel much more like a complete person because of you. That is a love that I will always appreciate.