So, without further ado, here’s my column from August 9, 1991:
“That’s some mailbox you have,” my husband enthused upon returning from one of his first trips to the local post office since our wedding. As a newly merged household, we were still in the “yours” and “mine” mind set, and he hadn’t yet gotten accustomed to the idea that my mailbox was actually now his, too.
I’ve noticed that newlyweds provide a perfect example of the “halo effect,” where anything even remotely connected to one’s beloved bride or groom is bestowed with the same adoration and devotion as is lavished upon the newly acquired spouse. At least until the proverbial “honeymoon” is over. Then, those selfsame previously adored qualities transform into pet peeves that make said spouse wonder in amazement at how he or she could have overlooked such a glaringly obvious personal flaw.
Even if we were still “honeymooners,” though, I thought he was stretching it a bit far to be displaying such interest in my post office box. I mean, I did try to clear the junk mail out on a regular basis, so I suppose it was fairly neat and tidy in there. But it’s not like I had hung miniature lace curtains in the window or stuck a potted bonsai plant in one corner.
“What’s so special about my mailbox?” I ventured to query.
“It talks?” Now, I had known my mailbox to have a few eccentricities in its day. For example, if I opened it on a windy day at the precise moment that some other postal patron was opening the front door to the building, my mail would be sucked back out of the box and would drop out of sight (and out of reach) onto the floor behind the wall of boxes. (Does that sound familiar to anyone, or am I the only one this has ever happened to?)
After this unexpected twist in the usually mundane task of retrieving mail, I would be left with a dilemma of either (A) going up to the front desk and sheepishly inquiring if one of the fine postal employees might graciously retrieve my mail from their inner sanctum – where they would find it scattered all over kingdom come, or (B) just leaving the building surreptitiously and letting them ponder as to how my mail happened to jump out of the box and onto the floor. I usually opted for the latter recourse. It seemed altogether less embarrassing.
Then there was the time when I reached in to retrieve my mail and a hand reached in from the other side and pulled it back... Aha, maybe this talking mail box was explainable after all.
“What did my mailbox say?” I asked.
“It said, ‘Hi, I’m your talking mailbox.’”
“Uh-huh, and did the voice sound vaguely familiar, kind of like the postmaster?”
“Yes, it sounded exactly like her,” my husband admitted.
So that was it. Another one of the postmaster’s fun touches that actually made going to collect a bundle of bills and a bushel of brochures addressed to “occupant” almost a pleasant undertaking. The postmaster was my mother’s best friend, and I was actually named after her, so I (and my mailbox) got the postmaster’s personal attention sometimes. It’s a small town.
Even after I moved out of that town and had to relinquish my talented post office box, I continued to find occasional excuses to stop in and say hi. I brought my second newborn baby in to meet the postmaster (Really! It just looked like I was trying to mail the crying, colicky bundle of joy away. Someone saw stamps on the baby’s forehead? Someone saw me try to push her through the mail slot? Lies! Vicious lies!)
I’m almost certain I will never have a talking mailbox again. It has never been the same since I moved to a rural delivery route. I’ve talked to that tin tube on a post ‘til I was blue in the face, and it has never so much as given me the time of day. I guess if I’m ever going to win the admiration of my spouse again, I’ll have to resort to the bonsai décor idea. Or maybe I could wallpaper the box interior. Do you suppose I can find something in a nice shade of manila? I’ll work on that.
# # #
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Friday,