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National Review / Digital
Before Your Say No . . .
A correspondence, nonfictional, between a young boy, a housewife, a headmaster, and the young boy’s brother

(Stefano Blanchetti/Corbis)



Text  


March 7

Dear Mrs. Heath:
I wish to ask you a great favor. My brother David goes to Cranwell and he says they go easier on brothers, so I might have a chance to get in even though my grades aren’t so terribly good. But I need three letters of recommendation and I have one from a priest and one from a nun and my father says he thinks the third one better be from someone who is not a priest or a nun. You are not a priest or a nun but yet you know me intamitely from me having delivered your paper even that bad day right after Christmas when their was no school and the Times boy didn’t deliver his customers, and from those Catholic Christmas cards you always buy, and from the jack lantern pumpkins I helped you carve three years in a row, and the Easter Eggs, and a lot of other things. (Like the time I picked up John when he broke his arm and taught Priscilla how to ride a two-wheeler.)

Before you say no, I did break the trampoline but I didn’t honestly know how heavy I was, because I grew very suddenly and the only reason I was always on the roof was because of my gliders which you said I could get if they were on the roof, and the time you wouldn’t let me come in your backyard for three weeks that time, Catholic Word of Honor, John started it and it was not my fault because Scout’s Honor, I only gave John the most compleatly gentle kind of tap so he would go home so Georgie Cunningham wouldn’t beat him up, because you know how Georgie is when he gets mad. Because John threw a mud ball at him on his bicycle. Not that you were wrong, but that I’m explaning now, because you were so mad then you wouldn’t give me a chance to explane, because John got their first and he fed you a lot of garbage. But I still like John, he is a fine young boy, he has been well brought up by his Mother.

But even if sometimes you don’t get along with me too well, I always think of you as my “Oldest Friend” so I hope you will do me this great favor of writing me a letter of recommandation.

Thanking you for your trouble,

Respectfully yours,
Peter Bailey-Gates

P.S.: Thank you for the pennies of which I already had the 1926 San Francisco mint but I did not have the 1921 Denver. Do you have a 1905 Indian Head, I will pay one nickel, clear profit of four (4)¢?

Respectfully yours,
Peter Bailey-Gates

March 7

Dear Peter:
I would be glad to write you a letter of recommendation to Cranwell, and I am very flattered that you asked me. Of course, I will have to tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth, so I hope nobody will be careless enough to allow my letter to fall into the hands of the police. I can’t tell you how much I would miss you if you had to spend the next ten years in a reformatory.

Respectably yours,
Mrs. H.

P.S.: No, I haven’t got a 1905 Indian Head, which saddens me very much, but what saddens me more is the fact that even after three years’ acquaintanceship you don’t know me well enough to realize that I also know that this particular penny is worth $6! You and your 4¢ profit — hah! I’ve told you and told you about my high IQ. Don’t you believe me? However, just to show you I bear no grudge, I will give you my duplicate of the 1911 no mint mark — for free yet!

Respectably yours,
Mrs. H.

P.P.S.: Don’t worry about my letter. I will bet you one dollar (from me) to one doughnut (from you) that you will get into Cranwell — not because you’re such a hot-shot, you understand, but because if I’m crazy enough to like you, your priest and your nun are probably suffering from the same form of insanity. On the other hand, they may know you even better than I do, God help them!

Respectably yours,
Mrs. H.


Contents
December 31, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 24

Articles
  • Channeling TR, President Obama advocates rule-by-elites.
  • Now is the time to make the case for military action against Iran.
  • When people say ‘Zionist,’ what do they mean?
  • Earnest worship versus the worship of cynicism.
  • A correspondence, nonfictional, between a young boy, a housewife, a headmaster, and the young boy’s brother.
Features
  • You take a dubious record, you take some wacky ideas, you take a narcissistic personality. . .
  • And why President Newt would not
  • Gingrich’s plan would reward criminals and make the law arbitrary.
  • The former Speaker has a longstanding love-hate relationship with environmental reform.
Books, Arts & Manners
Sections
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
The Bent Pin  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .