Love and the Written Word

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(My most recent article for Northside Woman)

While watching Modern Family, I was reminded of the risky nature of writing. In that episode, Gloria puts a few snippy thoughts into an email, then – whoops! – accidentally hits send. “It sended! Please come back,” Gloria moans.

For your own safety, I recommend putting nothing in writing. That’s right, during the month that launches a thousand love letters, I am telling you to save yourself some heartache and put down those pens.

Here’s why: once you write something, it has the potential to live in the universe forever. And that can be a bad, bad thing.

Case in point: as a fresh-faced college graduate embarking on my first job, my supervisor sent an email regarding a co-worker’s promotion and misspelled her name. This was a particular sore spot with her, so I sent her a note joking about his mistake.

Almost immediately, he sends a correction. So I send another note along the lines of “wow, he can’t spell, but maybe he can read minds.” Ah, the accidental reply when intending to forward. Classic.

And while my personal feeling that you should not write love notes to anyone to whom you are not legally bound might seem extreme, I urge each of you to teach your children to not write letters in which they emote in any form.

Why? Because there is a television show called “Hoarders,” that’s why. Do you want somebody to find a long-forgotten letter you wrote to a person you’d rather enter the Witness Protection Program than speak to again?

In first grade, a boy wrote me a letter about how pretty and nice I was, and how I was clearly his intellectual superior. Okay, that last part I made up, but he did tape a quarter to the letter. Or maybe it was a nickel. Whatever, it was a nice touch (or maybe he thought I could be bought, in which case I am belatedly offended). The point is, my mother still has that letter and we still chuckle about it.

I’ve come across letters from former boyfriends declaring their undying love, roommates apologizing, and friends sketching out all manner of ill-advised ideas. None of which will ever see the light of day as long as I receive payment by the end of the month (kidding.)

When it comes to sharing something that can be taken the wrong way, deniable plausibility is key. And you only gain that advantage by not writing it at all. Don’t write, text, tweet or update your Facebook status during emotional distress, and write only under the influence of a nice, deep breath of fresh air.

If you happen to come across something I wrote prior to 1995, please destroy it. And, if you accuse me of writing this article, I will deny it. Now, I’ve got to find out the hidden meaning behind taping coins to love notes.

Amy M. Dawson is an Alpharetta-based writer eternally grateful for the delete key and a good shredder. She writes about balancing work and life at

© Amy McCormick Dawson, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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