My first “Dear John” letter came from this sweet, kind girl in my eighth grade class, Pamela.
The “Dear John” Letter
By Richard Mabey Jr.
The “Dear John” letter is the one thing that every man fears receiving. Oh, a man may act tough as nails, but deep down every man fears receiving a “Dear John” letter. It comes in variations. Sometimes it’s long and flowery. Sometimes it’s short and sour. I was going to say sweet, but Dear John letters are never sweet.
I got my first Dear John letter when I was 13 years old. It was back in early September of 1966. My friend Pamela gave it to me in the eighth grade, while we were changing classes. I remember exactly where it was. It was by the stairwell, down the hall, on the left hand side of the front door of dear old Chapel Hill School. I was walking toward the front of the school house, Pamela was walking toward the back of the building. And Pamela reached out her hand, smiled, said she was sorry and handed me the note.
I read the letter in Miss Trapani’s math class. I held back my tears as well as I could. Then as fate would have it, Miss Trapani called me up to the blackboard to work out one of the homework problems. Talk about solving a math problem under emotional duress.
Pamela and I were best friends in Mr. Yurgolese’s Sixth Grade class. We sat next to each other in that class. We used to write notes to each other when Mr. Yurgolese turned his back to us, to write on the blackboard. Mr. Yurgolese had been a former Marine Drill Sergeant, so it was like playing with dynamite, passing notes during old Yerk the Jerk’s class.
I was head over heels, infatuated with Pamela. At the school dances, I would dance with her. I had it really bad for her. Then came seventh grade and I missed the entire school year, being in and out of the hospital battling a severe case of rheumatic fever. When I went back to old Chapel Hill School in the eighth grade, I thought things would be back to status quo with sweet Pamela. I was so very wrong. Man oh man, was I ever wrong.
I still have Pamela’s letter that she gave to me, basically telling me that our sixth grade fling was over. I’m a hopeless romantic. I keep Pamela’s little note in my wallet. I figure if I ever do see Pamela at an airport or a mall or somewhere, she’ll get a kick out of seeing that note that she wrote me in eighth grade. I do hope I get to see Pamela, one more time before I pass away.
There’s never a good time for a fellow to receive a Dear John letter. Never. I’ve got quite a collection of Dear John letters. I’ve got a comic book collection, a stamp collection, a collection of old first edition books, and a collection of Dear John letters. Most men would never admit to getting any Dear John letters. But, hey, they are a real part of life.
When you really think about it, it’s the grand finale statement that an old girlfriend will make to you. Some letters are rather classy. Some are rather crude. Some have been written on quality writing paper. Some have been written on plain old notebook paper.
In today’s world, or course, men are now receiving Dear John letters in email format. Technology is so wonderful. Alas, the day has come, a woman does not even have to invest in a postage stamp to send a man the dreaded farewell letter. Yes, technology is so wonderful!