Kempt

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Winning Valentine’s Day: The Love Letter

  • Jason Wire

You know what the greatest Valentine’s gift of all time is? A fully loaded, pearl-white Ferrari made of roses.

But giving the same gift two years in a row would just be tacky. So this year you’re turning back the clock and winning Valentine’s Day the old-fashioned way: by writing a thoughtful, heart-melting and perfectly legible love letter.

Herewith: the Kempt Guide to Writing a Goddamn Stupendous Love Letter.

Step One: Gather the Materials.

If you try to do this electronically, it’s not a love letter— it’s cybersex. (Even if you keep it PG-13 and email a Nicholas Sparks novel’s worth of metaphor—still just really sappy cybersex.) Use a pen and paper.

In terms of pens, it’s hard to go wrong with a Parker. They’ve been in the inking game since 1888. And as far as stationery goes, no one does it quite like the NYC stalwarts of old-world printing-pressing and witty bluntness at Terrapin Stationers. (Depending on the recipient, this card might say all you really need to say.)

Step Two: Gather Some Inspiration.

Since you’re not the poet-in-residence at a small liberal arts college, start by limbering up your romantic lexicon.

Flip through some Shakespeare, or Pablo Neruda. Lady Chatterley, if you’re feeling frisky. But remember: it’s for inspiration only. You’re going to skip any gratuitous Victorian English, comparisons to heavenly bodies or steamy carriage windows. Then, throw on a love song, sit down by the fire/space heater and let the poetry within your pen burst forth with the force of ten thousand Niles. (Sorry.)

Step Three: Write This Sucker.

Start: the object of your affection’s name. Not “Dear (what’s-her-name).” Not “To my sweet (whoever-she-is).” Just the name. Oh, and a comma.

Continue: specifics. Simple anecdotes will get you miles further than the most well-crafted sonnet about red, red roses. Stick to the basics: things she’s said, her lovable quirks and any body parts she isn’t self-conscious about. Bonus: remembering the site of your first date.

End: “Happy Valentine’s Day.” And err on the side of short and sweet.

Step Four: Stand and Deliver.

You’ve got two delivery options here: hand-delivery or postal. While the mail is a traditional resource for people who don’t live in the same city, everyone loves getting a letter—so consider mailing, even if you cohabitate. (Sending it to her workplace is the easy one, but be creative.)

Step Five: Reap the Benefits.

Proceed with Valentine’s Day as planned. You’ll know soon enough if it had the desired effect.

Oh, and don’t forget the flowers. It’s fucking Valentine’s Day.

—J.W.