For three and a half years, Handan and I were the shameful owners of The Saddest Mailbox on the Lane. Each day, I would watch our neighbors waltz out to retrieve fan mail, love letters, large checks, gift packages and sweepstakes award notifications from their resplendent black mailboxes sitting atop flawless white perches, their posts tucked into rich, loamy soil bursting with all the colorful flowers of the season. I would wait at the window, watching and gnashing my teeth, until the shadows grew long, and then I would slink down the driveway to our nut-brown plastic disgrace to retrieve the day’s grim serving of unpaid bills, summonses, tickets, coupon books for products we never use and menus for the worst pizza joints in town. With furtive, sidelong glances, I would scurry back up the driveway like a wharf rat running from a drunken sailor’s boot. I would feel the eyes of the neighborhood boring into my back and my ears would ring with their clucking tongues.
Holidays were the worst time. Once I tried to tip the mailman for Christmas. I left an envelope with $20 in the mailbox. When I slunk down to get the mail the next evening, I saw that he hadn’t taken the envelope. I opened it and saw $40 and a note. I unfolded the note and read:
Please! For the love of God, PLEASE get a new mailbox!!
(GET A NEW MAILBOX!)
I think he was trying to tell me something.