…and all I got was this postcard

“Is it here yet?  Is it here yet?” my son Evan screeched from the backseat as I pulled the mailman’s daily recycle-bin-filler out of the mailbox.

“Children’s Place, Toys R’ Us, Gymboree.  Man, the marketers really have us pegged,” I said, throwing the coupons and catalogs into the empty passenger seat.

“But is it here yet?  Is it here?” he yelled.

“Bill, junk, bill, junk,” I replied.  I paused, looking at one envelope that read: “IMPORTANT!  TIME-SENSITIVE DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED!”

In general, there is an inverse relationship between how important a piece of mail looks and how important it actually is.  If it’s an offer for a new credit card with an interest rate that’s higher than your final grade in calculus, it’ll have 72-point font stamped across the envelope: “YOU’D BETTER OPEN THIS, OR THE KITTEN GETS IT!”

Every now and again, they’ll trick me into opening one.  Earlier this year, as tax documents were trickling into the mailbox, a credit card offer fooled me into thinking it contained actual life-relevant information.

“Oh, you got me, Capital One, you devil,” I said.  Every time I open a credit card offer, the company scores a point on me.  Also, somewhere, an angel gets its wings repossessed.

If an envelope contains something you actually want, like an insurance check, or credit card rewards, it’ll come in a nondescript envelope crammed into the grocery store circular.

“Nothing to see here, Occupant.  Please discard before I waste any more of your time,” it will say.

“IS IT HEEERE?” Evan yelled again.

I reached the end of the pile.  No postcard from Mommy.

“No, bud, I’m sorry, it’s not,” I replied.

“But I want it to be here!” he yelled, clearing up any ambiguity on his position re: postcard acquisition.

With my wife Kara travelling on business for four days, I’d become a temporary single parent, which allowed me to experience all the relaxation and bliss that single-parenthood had to offer.  But since it wasn’t offering any, I hung out with my kids instead.

“Unleash the hounds!” I’d say as I unbuckled the boys from their car seats each evening.  They’d tear around the house, ramming things with their heads until dinnertime.

“Just don’t do anything that won’t heal before Mommy gets home,” I’d advise while the chicken nuggets spun around in the microwave.  

“Come find me!” Evan would yell, sitting in the middle of the living room, his legs sticking out from under a blanket.  I’d run over to him right away, because if you don’t find him quickly enough, he’ll start running around with the blanket over his head, content to bounce off whatever surface he hits first.

Somehow, we all survived, though our daily mailbox routine was fruitless.  Kara got to our house before the postcard did.  Two days after she returned home, we pulled up to the mailbox again.

“Hey, Evan, look what came today!” I said, waving the postcard around.  Kara smiled and handed it back to him.

“How do you open it?” he asked.

“It doesn’t open, Evan,” Kara said.  “It just has a picture on the front and my message to you on the back.  See?  That’s where Mommy was.  It’s called Atlanta.  Then, on the back, it says, ‘Dear Evan, I love you so much and can’t wait to see you soon!  Love, Mommy.’”

Evan flipped the postcard over a few times, then gave it one last shake to see if anything interesting would fall out.

“I don’t want the postcard because it’s not very exciting,” he announced, handing it back.

Someday, he’ll come to understand that the least exciting mail usually has the most important stuff in it.

You can return Mike Todd to sender at mikectodd@gmail.com.

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