Letter From San Francisco

How to Write a Letter (Your User’s Manual)

The next best thing to letting the USPS go public.

By 6.13.12

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(To help rescue the postal service and keep neighborhood post offices alive, I've devised a system to teach those who grew up on the Internet the basic methodology of corresponding with others through a revolutionary hand-delivered process.)

Welcome to the "Letter-Writing 2.0" program, an exciting new major advance in social networking! This instructional guide will explain in detail how to perform the functions necessary to compose a "letter." Carefully follow the step-by-step directions below to activate your revolutionary "handwriting" program:

Those accustomed to employing one of the old i- phone, email, Facebook or Twitter technologies will find this new "writing" method a cutting-edge way to communicate with "friends." It is always wise to keep a list of friends entered in the "address book" included here, so as not to forget their names, especially those you "like." (It is advisable not to communicate with persons you dislike.)

You will first need to acquire a piece of "paper," available from any local "stationery" server. The stationery app is accessed by picking up the pen modem in your kit (see fig. B) and pressing it against the paper to inscribe a salutation, such as "Dear…" (fill in name of the friend or individual you wish to receive your letter), followed by a series of hand-written "sentences" until you reach the bottom of the first "page." The pen is gripped by clutching it in the right or left hand (see figs. 1-7), much as one would hold a fork or a knife.

The actual letter-writing process is activated by re-creating spoken words (as on your old iPhone) but in print on paper, much as you would do if punching in text on the screen of a hand-held electronic device. The manual will instruct you how to shape words on paper using a combination of all 26 letters in the alphabet. It will also show you, step by step, that when you reach the end of a "line" of script at the right-hand edge of a page you will need to begin a new line directly underneath what you have just written. This needs to be done manually.

After you have successfully filled a page with words, you may either turn the paper over and continue the writing process or slide another sheet of paper under the pen to resume your message, perhaps inscribing a "2" at the top of the next "page" (and, successively, "3," "4," "5," etc.) until your written message is completed.

To sign off, simply end the initial message phase with any of several letter-writing emoticons, such as, "Take it easy!" or "Hope to hear from you guys soon" (see red guidebook included for suggested user-friendly phrases to employ with this program).

Warning: You may occasionally experience a "smudge" if using the "fountain pen" modem included, often caused by a leaky ink cartridge or by unintentionally touching the ink while it is still in the wet phase. This common experience may easily be corrected. Simply "cross out" (or "blot"; see fig. 14-C) the unwanted letters or words and continue. This can be done manually with ease. Your Letter-Writer 2.0 device is not equipped with delete or backspace keys to eliminate unwanted letters. The deluxe model of the letter-writing 2.0 program also includes a wooden "pencil" (see fig. 21-A) with an "eraser" app, which is activated by rubbing the soft pink device at the end of the pencil across the page to get rid of (or "erase") unwanted letters.

It is possible to inscribe as many pages as you wish (this program has unlimited word capacity), after which you will need to "address" an "envelope" (see fig. 16) to send to the intended receiver of the letter you have just created. For this step you will need a "mailing address" (i.e., where the recipient resides), followed by his/her state and "zip code" (see glossary on page 34). Do not precede the mailing address with @ and there is no need to add ".com" or ".org" or ".edu" after the address" (for instance, Richard Smith@47 Maple Street, Akron, Ohio.com); doing so will result in a fatal error message from the "postal carrier." You can now link up with anybody by writing his/her address in the center of the envelope and simply adding your own "return address" in the upper left corner of the "envelope" (see figs. 3 and 4).

Finally, you will need to fold the letter in two places (see fig. 7-C) and place it inside the envelope container, on which you then must "paste" a "postage stamp" in the upper right corner of the envelope (see fig. 4-E) by peeling the stamp from a sheet of stamps and firmly affixing it to the designated envelope corner (one stamp will usually suffice.) Note that there is no confusing "cut" and "paste" (or a cumbersome "menu") to deal with here. Pasting a stamp is quickly and easily accomplished by hand.

To "send" a letter, you will need to deposit it inside a "mail box" (see fig. 12), available on many street corners. A mail box is identified by its red, white and blue markings (see "mail box" photo at bottom of page 36). The letter you have just sent will then be delivered to the intended recipient within a couple of days. Congratulations and enjoy your new Letter-Writing 2.0 program!

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About the Author

Gerald Nachman is the author of Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Raised on Radio and Right Here On Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan's America. He is currently working on a book about the great Broadway musical show-stoppers.