It would’ve been sometime in 2005, I think, when a friend and I found this CD-R in the deep discount bin at Austin’s Discount Electronics. I don’t recall the exact figure, but I want to say we paid $2 for it. I think the box art actually advertised that it contained sample correspondence for “relationships,” and we could not resist our curiosity about what a model “Dear John/Jane” letter would look like. First, hers:
Thank you for the beautiful flowers; that was such a thoughtful gesture. Your note asked me to call when I got back in town, but I wanted to write instead to let you know where I am mentally and emotionally at this time in my life.
I’ve really enjoyed the times we’ve gone out together. You’re a great conversationalist, and I really notice those skills in others because my job requires me to sit in front of a computer all day and talk to myself!
However, right now I’m totally focused on my work; I’ve landed several key projects that can give me high visibility in the company if I’m successful with them. They’re going to require that I work some fairly long hours. And on the weekends, I feel I owe my attention to my ten-year-old, Dara, and her various activities.
So I’d love to run into you from time to time when our friends get together, but I don’t want to mislead you into thinking I’m open to a new relationship at the present. I’m really not, for all the above reasons. Thank you for understanding.
Not bad, really, assuming that she actually has both a job and a ten-year-old named Dara. I suppose since she has to edit the text, a bit, to insert the correct name of the dumpee, as well as her own real name (he might actually be seeing the real “Belinda” on the side, after all), it’s not really asking too much more that she also insert the correct name, age, and pronoun for her child. Assuming her womb has not been a stony, barren field, to date.
Here’s his response:
I’ve been meaning to return your calls, but my schedule has been so erratic lately. I decided instead to drop you a note and let you know what’s going on with me. You deserve a straightforward explanation.
You have been such a big part of my life for the past several months that I wanted to let you know personally rather than just dodging your calls and offering you insincere lines and excuses.
Call it a mid-life crisis. Call it a departure from reality. Call it a bout with doubt. The bottom-line is that I’ve met someone else.
I may be making a serious mistake to end our relationship at this point, but I have to follow my heart at the moment. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me for hurting you. You are a wonderful person, and the guy that ultimately wins your love will be very fortunate.
Again, with the arguably-significant exception of the actual explanation, this is not a bad break-up letter, IMHO. But, you know, details like whether he’s A) having a mid-life crisis, B) having a psychotic episode, C) having a “bout with doubt” and/or D) having sex with another woman are important in this context. I mean, it gets the “I’m so through with you” point across, but, wow: “You deserve a straightforward explanation that is not an insincere line or an excuse. So, you know, pick one of these four common ones and assume it’s true.”
Oh, and in the special case of answer C: “Bout with doubt” in a breakup letter is only slightly less tacky than “date with fate” in a sympathy card.