Here’s one for the books. Last week I received a strange envelope in the mail. The return address was written in blocky letters with ballpoint pen, and indicated the post had originated from “WHOEVER” at “12345 WHATEVER PLACE.” (or something equally, adorably cryptic.) There was only one other clue to the source of this envelope – a postal stamp marked, quite generically, “Westchester.”
As I examined the envelope, I noticed it was lumpy. It clearly contained not a letter but a “something else.” Now, this is the part where a sane person would grow curious and excited, possibly wondering if a small gift was contained within. I long to be that sane person someday. Instead, I handled the package – scrutinizing the placement of girly stickers on the rear of the envelope – and was quickly overwhelmed by a heavy sense of dread. “Someone hates me,” I assured myself. “Someone hates me and has decided to anonymously mail me something horrible, possibly lethal, in order to exact some kind of revenge, the origin of which will likely remain a murky puzzle to me until perhaps the last deadly moment of bloody poetic justice, when I cry, ‘But of course!’ and then clutch my throat while the life is squeezed, burned, melted, or poisoned out of my body.”
I opened the envelope with shaky hands. Inside was another envelope, covered in more stickers. “Oh, this guy’s good,” I thought. “So much subterfuge.” Then, for just a moment, reason took hold. Maybe it’s not a sack of anthrax, I thought. Look at all these cute stickers! Maybe it’s just something that will sicken me – a baby’s finger, a dead mouse, a sour patch kid dipped in feces – so that I will finally understand how I’ve sickened the world around me.
I felt a little relieved as I tore into the second envelope. (And don’t think the possibility that two envelopes were used to disguise the package from postal x-ray scanners was not lost on me.) Inside was a small parcel, double and triple-wrapped in leopard print tissue paper. I’m dead, I thought. Totally dead. I almost left it alone, and I actually (sincerely) considered opening the package under cold, running water. Then I let go of all my paranoia and, like a Sioux warrior or one of those dudes in Point Break, I told myself perhaps today is a good day to die. I swallowed hard and peeled back the paper to reveal a yellow terrycloth wristband with a kick-ass spider embroidered on it. This was my death threat? This unsolicited random act of kindness was the gift horse I punched square in the mouth? I couldn’t believe how much self-loathing I had to summon in order to take a sticker-adorned envelope with a wristband inside and spin it as an act of murderous revenge. And then imagine how dumb I felt when, days later, I forwarded the discarded envelope and its contents to the CIA, with a “cc” to the Department of Homeland Security. Better safe than sorry, I say.