Along with my 1994 journal I found the other day, I also ran across a very interesting (read: totally raunchy) letter I’d saved. While it appears to be from a partner in a law firm in Tillamook, it was actually written by an employee of that firm. I’m quite sure the attorneys had no idea that three pages of their letterhead and a pre-stamped envelope were used for such depravity. They’d probably fire her right now if they knew. Good thing she hasn’t worked there in nearly 20 years.
The author? That dear girl I commonly refer to nowadays as Kim F’n-W. Circa 1989, she was a delightful person with, apparently, an untreated mental illness. Circa today, she is still a delightful person. I’m not sure about the other part.
The envelope was addressed to Jennifer “Bunny” Saltmarsh at the dorm at Walla Walla College. I do not remember why she called me “Bunny,” nor do I have any recollection of earning the nickname “Puff,” which she used in the body of the letter. This is the unfortunate part of growing old, because I’m sure the story behind those nicknames is side-splittingly funny.
When I opened the letter, a picture cut out of Playgirl magazine fell out. (Remember? Untreated mental illness.)
October 3, 1989
College Place, WA 99324
My Dearest “Puff”:
First of all, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your last letter, which kindly included that list of helpful guidelines to follow before I jump, rather, get thrown, into bed by all of the beautiful men out to pursue a body only like mine. You can’t be too careful in my line of work. “Sales” have jumped, as have the men who are buying, due to my including the aforementioned list in my brochures (only available through the Tillamook Chamber of Commerce, as I prefer to work locally and adore the feeling of rolling around in the fragrant smell of wet hay and cow manure). I hope you don’t feel that I have over-stepped my boundaries by using your marketing techniques. I feel confident in the fact that we are not overlapping our working “districts” and therefore there should be no direct competition, except for the obvious two or three “regulars” that we share, “just because we are friends.” Although, the other day while sitting at the rodeo (ro-day-o), one of the bull riders accidentally dropped one of your brochures in the dust, and of course I found it. I was hurt, to tell you the least, but after a while, this same cowboy (lets call him “John”) and I went to the Greenacres Motel (aka Rat Hole) where he reassured me that there was nothing between the two of you—I’m sorry Jen, but he was just using you. I am planning on going on some “business” trips in the near future and I intend to visit your area. We can talk about business strategies then.
Here are some points I must make:
- I do not remember writing or sharing the “helpful guidelines” to which Kim F’n-W refers. They were obviously spectacular, and I hope they are still in existence somewhere.
- We were not actually prostitutes, then or ever. Well, I wasn’t. I guess I shouldn’t speak for Kim. She sounds awfully knowledgeable…
- I love that, even way back then, she was making fun of Tillamook. Tillamook is highly make-fun-of-able. (For those unfamiliar, Tillamook is an Oregon coastal town best known for its dairy and Pig-N-Ford races, and the only reason it ever makes the news is because it floods EVERY TIME a drop of rain falls from the sky.)
Continuing on… (By the way, my transcription is identical in wording and punctuation to Kim’s letter but-cept for the two spaces between sentences. I tried to keep them, but my typing fingers just wouldn’t allow it. I also tried to keep the two misspelled words but my auto-correct fixed them and I thought it would be rude to go back and re-correct them because Kim is usually an excellent speller.)
Honestly though, (I know you thought I was being serious, which I was to some degree, but…) I made the mistake of giving a copy of that list to [her paramedic boyfriend]. Needless to say, it had circulated around the hospital by 5:00 (NO JOKE) and people only know that it came from that “sweet little angel that dates [the paramedic]!” It was kind of funny because everyone loved it. It didn’t stop there, though. They took it down to central dispatch (911) and shared it with everyone there, including all the officers and such. I didn’t know this was happening until the recipients confronted me with their disgust, but they were laughing. I’ll never hear the end of it, but that’s my own fault.
Again, I really wish I knew what that list was.
[a bunch of stuff about her sister getting married]… They know each other because they dated in 6th grade. You know how close and intimate you can get with a person at that age. It was my sexual peak, anyway.
Ah, my Kimmeh. You can’t NOT love her sense of humor.
Did I tell you that I am taking an EMT 1 class so I can work part-time with the ambulance, too? I’m really enjoying it so far, and learning a lot, even if I never do pass the test. At least I know what’s happening when I ride on the ambulance now. I love it! (No more fishing lately)
Kim did pass the EMT 1 test, and went on to pass a lot more tests and now she’s a paramedic extraordinaire. Really. I think that’s even what her nametag says. Oh, and the fishing thing? Not long before this she had handed me a package of photos of “a fishing trip” at the Tillamook River. The photos were mostly boring until I realized the catch was a friggin’ dead body, and after that they were mostly horrifying. The images are still burned in my brain. Thanks bunches, Kim.
[a paragraph about the paramedic she was dating]
Yawn. (You would agree with me on that, Kim.)
YOU’LL NEVER GUESS!!! i got my haircut. shhhh. I really liked it at first, then I wasn’t sure, then I decided I couldn’t do anything about it except give it time to grow out again, so now I like it again. It’s not real drastically short, but definitely different. Some people say “I really like your hair – it makes you look older” while other people say “Oh – you got your haircut”. Thank you. I HATE that. Tell me you don’t like it, I don’t care. Just don’t sit there with that constipated look on your face and remind me that I got a butch.
A whole paragraph about a haircut. I love that haircuts were that important to us back then.
[weird work stuff, too incriminating to share]
(Kim, I’ll email you that part.)
Well so now I’m sitting here trying to look busy, and I think I’m succeeding. I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing letters when I have so much to get done. Oh well – you’re worth it. Nice, huh?
Gotta love the work ethic of the youth.
Jen, I haven’t been out of Tillamook since my birthday, therefore I haven’t had a chance to get your birthday present! I feel terrible, but I also know that you probably don’t want a bronzed cow pie. Or do you? And I thought I knew you! Either that or a shirt with a picture of a cow’s butt saying “It’s a moooooving experience!” What do you think? I plan on going to the “valley” (a true Tillamooker line) soon, so I am going to get your present then. By the way, for you Walla Walla people, the “valley” is Portland or the like. Well actually, I guess it’s more like Eugene or Salem. Oh well, I call everything the valley. You valley you. So tell me what you need for your room or what you want – I need Christmas ideas, too.
Ah, the days when celebrating birthdays were such a big deal. I almost miss ‘em.
[questions about some mutual friends, also too incriminating to share] Oh, tell [some guy with a common name] hi, too. Tell him I won’t write again until he writes me. He probably doesn’t care. WELL NEITHER DO I. Just kidding. I would like to hear from him. Even if he just wrote “hi” on a piece of paper and sent it, I would be happy and probably get regular again. Fiber Con just isn’t working.
Time to dig up an old MASK and figure out which [guy with a common name] she was talking about that had the potential to make her poop.
Well, Jenni Bunny, I really should be going. Lunch is approaching, and I have some eating to do. By the way, I am going to lose 20 lbs. before Christmas. I need something to do – I’m bored.
I wish the paragraph ended there. Unfortunately, it goes on to say things that are typical of our priorities at the time—looking perfect enough that someone would consider dating us, or in her case, continue to date. Pffft.
No, I just have been feeling so rotten about myself lately, so I decided to do something about it, for [the paramedic boyfriend]’s sake too. I promised him I would try. Especially since I have to actually be seen in a swimsuit by next Spring for when he gets his boat. I don’t think the boat will fit in my bedroom.
I love this girl.
Here’s her closing:
Gotta run, Puff. I miss you oodles and hope to see you soon for a weekend of EATING!!!
I love you!
Hugs and Kisses,
Kimberly A. Felkley
(Pretty official, huh?)
This whole thing is probably more amusing to me and Kim F’n-W than anyone else, I know; it’s amusing to look back at our 1989 selves. It’s funny to see things like the 25¢ postage on the envelope, the typewritten letter, and yes, the very odd inclusion of the Playgirl photo.
Well, maybe not THAT odd. We were 21-year-olds, after all.
What I most want to say about this, though, is that I hope all of you have a Kim F’n-W in your life—someone who has been there for such a long time, in such an important way, and who shares so much of your past—the silly/embarrassing memories, as well as the serious and maturing moments. These kinds of friends are the mirrors into our souls, and we are better because of them.