Letters from Dad: Matthew

It being summer and all (unless you just found this site and its December and you live in Maine and you just survived the ice storm and you’re real real jealous of all of us here back in the Summer of 0’13 where its been kissing 100 for weeks), I’m remembering summer camp. Not mine. I only went once. It was church camp and my girlfriend was hanging out with another guy and… well, you know, a bad movie.

But my son Matt did several rounds of summer camp: COMPUTER camp. So cool. (I suppose my equivalent would have been, what, battery and knife switch camp?) So being a doting father, I wrote him two letters for one of his summer experiences, when he was between 7th and 8th grade.

OK, these maybe aren’t as melodious as Jonathan Coulton’s “Chiron Beta Prime” but hang in there…

Here they are concatenated and re-keystroked for your viewing pleasure (since my original handwriting broke the scanner):

“What Happened This Week”

Dear Matt,

I apologize if this writing gets bumpy looking, but the “guy” (I guess it’s a guy) piloting this UFO has obviously not learned how to handle low altitude turbulence.

I’m also writing real fast in case one of “them” sees me and asks what I’m doing.

See, I’m not sure they’re friendly. In fact, I think they have devious, ulterior motives for cruising around down here. How would you evaluate the situation I find myself in:

I was waiting at the Amtrak station in Bridgeport this morning at 6:15 AM, waiting for the Metroliner to go to Washington. They announce the train. I go out to the platform. The train is waiting there, so I get in. It looks just like the Metroliner: silver cars, red stripe, rusty wheels… perfectly normal. Inside, fine. But I should have noticed the conductor more carefully when he took my ticket. Now I know better, but then I just thought that 3rd arm of his was some kind of novelty trick.

Okay. So we’re rolling down the tracks. The “train” isn’t very full, and neither is my stomach. I get up and go into the dinette car. The sign on the door says “Food”, but suddenly I realize the guy behind the counter is a little too happy to see me. I don’t see any food around anywhere, so I say to him, “What’s to eat?” And he says, “You.“ I left rapidly.

Back at my seat, I look out the window, and notice that the houses are awfully small, and the people are midgets, and the tracks aren’t under us anymore. That’s when I started to get a little suspicious.

I don’t know where we’re going now, but one of the other passengers heard them say something about Las Vegas.

In the meantime here is a copy of their official newspaper: The Hunt for Last October. That proves at least they like our movies. If I don’t go back to the dinette car again I’ll be all right, so don’t worry. I hope you’re enjoying camp.

Love, Dad.

“…and later that summer…”

Dear Matt,

Vegas was great. They put some implants in us so we wouldn’t run too far, but they let us out of the UFO (disguised as an Amtrak train, as you recall) so we got to hang out in the casinos while they explored the town.

[I can’t explain why no one in Vegas seemed to question the presence of a Metroliner parked along the Boulevard, but hey, you know, it’s Vegas.]

It turns out these implants have an electromagnetic effect on the slot machines, so we hauled away buckets of cash. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let us back on the UFO with the buckets, or the cash. Too heavy, they said. Some aliens. They can get across the galaxy but have a baggage limit. Anyway, somewhere in the Nevada desert now are 87 buckets full of silver dollars. Oh well.

That’s when we passengers revolted. Thinking back, it probably wasn’t a very good idea. Puny earthlings against aliens from who-knows-where. Us armed only with briefcases and copies of the New York Times against them armored with bifurcating plasma beam pistols. (The beams bifurcate, not the pistols.) But we did pretty well, considering. One of the commuters started reciting yesterday’s Dow Jones closing averages, and the aliens sort of stiffened up, all their eyes glazed over, and they fell down. Thus a new weapon is born… the Killer Stock Quote!

Now I’m back at home and all is normal. Muffy is home from Radcliffe, Spock killed another cat (a big juicy one), and the twins called to say they’ll be out on probation next Thursday. Isn’t that great? When you come home we can all go to visit Uncle Fester at the Home! Be sure to bring your rubber hammer.

Best wishes. Your dad, Ralph