Abe told me today that his 1st grade class is being pen-pals with another 1st grade class in Indiana. Pen-pals. Those used to be quite the thing when I was growing up. Everybody wanted a pen-pal. I even wanted a pen-pal – in theory – in reality I had several experiences as a pen-pal and failed equally with each. Other than Abe’s class I wonder if pen-pals are around these days. People don’t write letters much anymore. They probably exist now in the form of text-mates or cyber-pals or something – all of which sound far less wholesome than the original “pen-pal.” Below are my pen-pal experiences (at least the ones I remember) in no particular order (since I’m not sure what the order was).
1. Name forgotten, but whatever the name was, it was attached (along with her age, address, and pen-pal request) to the remains of a helium balloon in our backyard. It had made its way from somewhere in Idaho all the way to me. Winds of fate you would think. Alas, I wrote her and she never wrote back.
2. Akiko. This was by far my most successful attempt at pen-paling. My older brother was teaching English in Japan and she was one of his students. We wrote back and forth for some time. She was a bit older and ended up coming to CA to go to school. She gave me her number to call and actually talk. I am horrified to admit that being a bit shy at the time and feeling far more pressure in live conversation than the written word, I did not call nor did I ever send my phone number. We eventually lost touch and I actually do wish I could ever discover what became of dear little Akiko.
3. JoAnna. This was by far my most disturbing pen-pal experience. I received her letter (completely unexpected) in my mailbox in about 9th grade. She lived all the way in Poland and her letter stated that she had received my name and address from a “group of travelling clowns.” Most of you can see right there why I was disturbed with out me even writing it! Who on earth were these clowns? Why were they giving out my name to random children in Poland!?? I finally remembered that at one point earlier in the year my English teacher had us write letters that a group of people would be delivering to children (I hadn’t known it was for pen-pal purposes – perhaps it was just letters to cheer up sick children. It had been very vague. I certainly don’t ever recall being told they were travelling clowns). Anyway, I went ahead and wrote JoAnna. She’d asked fairly specific weather questions, so I told her what the temperature range was where I lived. I thought I’d be helpful and use her fancy Celsius ways . . . unfortunately I forgot that you don’t simply subtract (or add?) 32 degrees from everything and so my calculations were very incorrect. I don’t know what kind of crazy temperatures I told her, but she never wrote back. Perhaps she assumed I was a liar with my crazy temperature remarks.
Well, that’s all for now. There may have been several others, but if they exist, they have been forgotten – which would suggest they were even less successful than the above mentioned ones, and if that is the case, they must have been sad indeed!