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I've been written letters by boys (all those painfully cheesy words on Hallmark cards during high school), and a couple of "serious" ones by men (because they're called men once they're out of high school, aren't they? Not that they all act like one.) But never something like this. My nerdy heart is just over the moon about this fictional letter.

If you haven't read or watched One Day yet and you're planning to, you might want to skip this altogether. But then again, it doesn't really spoil anything other than the fact that Dexter is hilarious and awkwardly sweet, and that every girl needs to be written a letter like this once in their lives. Seriously.♥ 

Boys (or men), take copious notes.


Emma, Emma, Emma. How are you, Emma? And how are you doing right this second? We’re six hours ahead here in Bombay, so hopefully you’re still in bed with a Sunday morning hangover in which case WAKE UP! IT’S DEXTER!
This letter comes to you from a downtown Bombay hostel with scary mattresses and hot and could running Australians. My guide book tells me that it has character i.e., rodents but my room also has a little plastic picnic table by the window and it’s raining like crazy outside, harder even than in Edinburgh. It’s CHUCKING IT DOWN, Em, so loud that I can barely hear the compilation tape you made me which I like a lot incidentally except for the jangly indie stuff because after all I’m not some GIRL. I’ve been trying to read the books you gave me at Easter too, though I have to admit I’m finding Howard’s End quite heavy-going. It’s like they’ve been drinking the same cup of tea for two hundred pages, and I keep waiting for someone to pull a knife or an alien invasion or something, but that’s not going to happen, is it? When will you stop trying ot educate me, I wonder? Never I hope.
By the way, in case you hadn’t guessed from the Exquisite Prose and all the SHOUTING I’m writing this drink, beers at lunch time! As you can tell I’m not a great letter writer like you (your last letter was so funny) but all I say is India is incredible. It turns out that being banned from Teaching English as a Foreign Language was the best thing that ever happened to me (though I still think that they over-reacted. Morally unfit? Me? Tove was twenty-one.) I won’t bore you with all that sunrise over that Hindu-kesh prose except to say that all the clichés are true (poverty, tummy upsets blah blah blah). Not only is it a rich and ancient civilization but you wouldn’t BELIEVE what you can get in the chemists without a prescription.
So I’ve seen some amazing things and while it’s not always fun it is an Experience and I’ve taken thousands of photographs which I will you very slooooooooowly when I get back. Pretend to be interested, won’t you? After all I pretended to be interested when you banged on about the Poll Tax Riots. Anyway, I showed some of my photos to this TV producer who I met on a train the other day, a woman (not what you think, old, mid-thirties) and she said I could be a professional. She was here producing a sort of young people’s TV travel show thing and she gave me her card and told me to call in August when they’re back again, so who knows maybe I’ll do some researching or filming even.
What’s happening with you work-wise? Are you doing another play? I really, really enjoyed your Virginia-Woolf-Emily-whatsername play when I was in London, and like I said, I think it showed loads of promise which sounds like bullshit but isn’t. I think you’re right to give up acting though, not because you’re not good but because you so obviously hate it. Candy was nice too, much nicer than you made out. Send her my love. Are you doing another play? Are you still in that box room? Does the flat still smell of fried onions? Is Tilly Killick still soaking her big grey bras in the washing-up bowl? Are you still at Mucho Loco or whatever it’s called? Your last letter made me laugh so much, Em, but you should still get out of there because while it’s good for gags it’s definitely bad for your soul. You can’t throw years of your life away because it makes a funny anecdote.
Which brings me to my reason for writing to you. Are you ready? You might want to sit down…
Since I started this letter I’ve drank (drunken? dronk?) two more beers and so am ready to say this now. Here goes. Em, we’ve known each other five or six now, but two years properly, as, you know, “friends”, which isn’t that long but I think I know a bit about you and I think I know what your problem is. And be aware that I have a lowish 2.2 in Anthropology, so I know what I’m talking about. If you don’t want to know my theory, stop reading now.
Good. Here it is. I think you’re scared of being happy, Emma. I think you think that the natural way of things is for your life to be grim and grey and dour and to hate your job, hate where you live, not to have success or money or God forbid a boyfriend (and a quick discersion here—the whole self-deprecating thing about being unattractive is getting pretty boring I can tell you). In fact I’ll go further and say that I think you actually get a kick out of being disappointed and under-achieving, because it’s easier, itsn’t? Failure and unhappiness is easier because you can make a joke out of it. Well I’ve only just started.
Em, I hate thinking of you sitting in that awful flat with the weird smells and noises and the overhead light bulbs or sat in that laundrinette, and by the way, there’s no reason in this day and age why you should be using a laundrinette, there’s nothing cool or political about laundrinettes it’s just depressing. I don’t know, Em, you’re young, you’re practically a genius, and yet your idea of a good time is to treat yourself to a service wash. Well I think you deserve more. You are smart and funny and kind (too kind if you ask me) and by far the cleverest person I know. And (am drinking more beer here—deep breath), you are also a Very Attractive Woman. And (more beer) yes I do mean “sexy” as well, though I feel a bit sick writing it down. Well I’m not going to scribble it out because it’s politically incorrect to call someone “sexy” because it is also TRUE. You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this, Confidence. It would be the gift of Confidence. Either that or a scented candle.
I know from your letters and from seeing you after your play that you feel a little bit lost right now about what to do with your life, a bit rudderless and oarless and aimless but that’s okay that’s alright because we’re all meant to be like that at twenty-four. In fact our whole generation is like that. I read an article about it, it’s because we never fought in a war or watched too much television or something. Anyway, the only people with oars and rudders and aims are dreary bores and squares and careerists like Tilly-bloody-Killick or Callum O’Neill and his refurbished computers. I certainly don’t have a master plan I know you think I’ve got it all sorted out but I haven’t I worry too I just don’t worry about the dole and housing benefit and the future of the Labour Party and where I’m going to be in twenty years’ time and how Mr. Mandela is adjusting to freedom.
So time for another breather before the next paragraph because I’ve barely got started. This letter builds to a life-changing climax. I wonder if you’re ready for it yet.
The thing is, Em, running back to the hostel in the rain just now—the rain is warm here, hot even sometimes, not like London rain—I was, like I said, pretty drunk and I found myself thinking about you and thinking what a shame Em isn’t here to see this, to experience this, and I had this revelation and it’s this.
You should be here with me. In India.
And this is my big idea, and it might be insane, but I’m going to post this before I change my mind. Follow these simple instructions.
1 – Leave that crappy job right now. Let them find someone else to melt cheese on tortilla chips for 2.20 an hour. Put a bottle of tequila in your bag and walk out the door. Think what that will feel like, Em. Walk out now. Just do it.
2 – I also think you should leave that flat. Tilly’s ripping you off, charging all that money for a room without a window. It isn’t a box room, it’s a box, and you should get out of there and let someone else wring out her great big grey bags for her. When I get back to the so-called real world I’m going to buy a flat because that’s the kind of over-privileged capitalist monster I am and you’re always welcome to come and stay for a bit, or permanently if you like, because I think we’d get on, don’t you? As, you know, FLATMATES. That’s providing you can overcome your sexual attraction to me ha ha ha. If the worst comes to the worst, I’ll lock you in your room at nights. Anyway, now the big one—
3 – As soon as you’ve read this, go to the student travel agency on Tottenham Court Road and book an OPEN RETURN flight to Delhi to arrive as near as possible to August 1st, two weeks’ time, which in case you’ve forgotten is my birthday. The night before get a train to Agra and stay in a cheap motel. Next morning get up early and go to the Taj Mahal. Perhaps you’ve heart it, big white building named after that Indian restaurant on the Lothian Road. Have a look around and at precisely 12 midday you stand directly under the centre of the dome with a red rose in one hand and a copy of Nicholas Nickleby in the other and I will come and find you, Em. I will be carrying a white rose and my copy of Howards End and when I see you I will throw it at your head.
Isn’t that the greatest plan you’ve ever heard of in your life?
Ah, typical Dexter you say, isn’t he forgetting something? Money! Plane tickets don’t grow on trees and what about social security and the work ethic etc. etc. Well don’t worry, I’m paying. Yes, I’m paying, I’m going to wire the money to you for your plane ticket (I’ve always wanted to wire money) and I’m going to pay for everything when you’re here which sounds swanky but isn’t because it is so DAMN CHEAP here. We can live for months, Em, me and you, heading down to Kerala or across to Thailand. We could go to a full moon party—imagine staying awake all night not because you’re worried about the future but because it’s FUN. (Remember when we stayed up all night after graduation, Em? Anyway. Moving on.)
For three hundred pounds of someone else’s money, you could change your life, and you musn’t worry about it because frankly I have money that I haven’t earned, and you work really hard and yet you don’t have money, so it’s socialism in action isn’t it? And if you really want you can pay me back when you’re a famous playwright, or when the poetry-money kicks in or whatever. Besides it’s only for three months. I’ve got to come back in the autumn anyway. As you know Mum’s not been well. She tells me the operation went fine and maybe it did or maybe she just doesn’t want me to worry. Either way I’ve got to come home eventually. (By the way, my mother has a theory about you and me, and if you meet me at the Taj Mahal I will tell you all about it, but only if you meet me.)
On the wall in front of me is this massive sort of praying mantis thing and he’s looking at me as if to say shut up now so I will. It’s stopped raining, and I’m about to go to a bar and meet up with some new friends for a drink, three female medical students from Amsterdam which tells you all you need to know. But on the way I’m going to find a post box and send this before I change my mind. Not because I think you coming here is a bad idea—it isn’t, it’s a great idea and you must come—but because I think I might have said too much. Sorry if this has annoyed you. The main thing is that I think about you a lot, that’s all. Dex and Em, Em and Dex. Call me sentimental, but there’s no one in the world that I’d like to see get dysentery more than you.
Taj Mahal, 1st August, 12 noon.
I will find you!



I want to be told that I'm scared to be happy, that I should be in India with you. I want to be called a "hag" and a "Very Attractive Woman" all in one paragraph. I want to be told that it's okay that I'm rudderless and oarless and aimless  because "we're meant to be like that at twenty-four". I mean, just how affirming is that? It's not even a love letter, it's just so much...more. I think it has everything a girl my age wants to be told. (Fine, I'm just twenty-three, but what's one year off?) We all want to fend for ourselves all on our own and make our own way, because we're supposed to be "grown-ups", but god, how nice would it be to have someone who'll tell us that he/she sees our efforts, sees us for what we are, and tells us that he/she sees potential in there? That for the meantime, let me treat you on a fucking trip to India because you deserve a break and I secretly think you're beautiful and I want to be with you and hey, let's change our lives together?

Who doesn't want that? Well, maybe it's just me. But what a letter.

(I have to admit that I didn't care for the book much. I mean, I liked it, but I won't read it again because of the goddamned ending, but that letter just wins at life. Don't you want to be written a letter and propositioned to like that? *sigh*)

If you're wondering, yeah, I totally re-typed all that. What is labor of love. 

Date: 2011-11-08 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

The funny thing is, I am 24, and my best straight male friend has told me things that are in this letter, but nowhere near as wittily and romantically as Fictional Dexter over there. And usually, I'm the one travelling and sending him postcards from hostels and telling him I wish he would just run to a foreign country with me, yet he's the one telling me I'm afraid to take risks and be happy. Also, I miss my best friend because we meet each other practically only once a year like Dex and Emma lmao.

tl;dr I miss my best friend and I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS and yes, I would also love to have a letter just like this.


Date: 2011-11-13 11:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just plowed through the book - bought it on Friday, with the intention of reading it and giving it to aforementioned best straight male friend, and just devoured it on Saturday. OH MY GOD FEELINGS. I spent most of Saturday morning and a bit of the afternoon cackling because the early years are so familiar, stopped to do some chores that were long overdue, then buried myself in the book again whilst waiting for the Pacquiao fight. Once that was over, we went home and I finish the book and then THE ENDING OH GOD THE ENDING ;________; The ending makes me not want to give the book away, but I already committed to giving it away (no, I haven't told him, but it seems kind of dumb to keep something originally intended as a gift now lol). But the early chapters are amazing and that's why I want him to read it. Dilemma.


Date: 2011-11-15 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh shit, do you have a thing for your bestfriend? :)



Date: 2011-11-15 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ten years of diary entries, online and off, will reveal that calling it a thing greatly disservices and trivialises whatever the hell my feelings are. tl;dr it's complicated

I ABSOLUTELY DEVOURED IT I DID. I only stopped for the Pacquiao fight, but that's because I'm Filipino and apparently everything involving Filipinos stops during a Pacquiao fight, including my majority-Filipino hometown here in the United States. The ending is such a downer, and I kind of want to rip out the first awesome half of the book and just give him that, but I don't like to desecrate books ahahaha

Date: 2011-11-09 06:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

This letter is so great and somehow the things Dexter wrote is so relevant with my life. That whole thing about always running away from happiness because it's easier to handle? Guilty! If a guy write a letter like this to me, I'd ask my boss to leave office early (probably quitting!) and look at planes schedule to India immediately, like in as fast as possible while packing my stuffs in a suitcase, not caring of the future and the money just because. Just because.

Date: 2011-11-15 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Isn't the whole thing just so relatable? Sigh.

How are you, Yanie?


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