26 February 2012

A Vast Conspiracy In My Mailbox

Thirty-four, in case you're wondering. That's the number of postcards spread out on my coffee table above. My mailbox has suddenly been overwhelmed--instead of finding one or two finding one or two when I make me weekly-or-so excursion to the post office, no it's more like six or eight.

Curiously--so, so curiously--sixteen of those postcards have a Pantone color swatch on the front. Mind you, each one was sent from a different place, all over the USA. There is a conspiracy afoot--a conspiracy to stuff my mailbox to the point of bursting.

For my next job, I want to name colors for Pantone.
Upper left is Pirate Black. Also shown: Cactus Flower, Picante, Peony.
(That's three different colors, not just one.)
More on that in just a second. But the tricky thing about conspiracies is that when you know a group of people are out to get you (even in an amusing, intriguing, and non-menacing sort of way), all of a sudden everyone becomes a suspect. I don't know what the end-game is here, and I don't know who's involved. I start to wonder if everyone who's written me lately is part of some sort of collective effort. My imagination wanders. I start to wonder, Did this person send me a postcard just to send me a postcard? Or as part of the broader plot?

It's like how, when you watch The X-Files too much growing up, you become suspicious of all dapper men in black suits, and you suspect every single person holding a cigarette to be part of a sinister and wide-ranging government conspiracy to silence your quest for the truth. (This becomes complicated when you've also watched The Blues Brothers too many times, and therefore expect the same sorts of people to bust out a boogie-inducing blues number at any moment. Tricksy business, this paranoia thing.)

But I assume the vastness of this mailbox conspiracy is not, in the end, all that vast. It probably--maybe, possibly--doesn't involve every single person who's sent me mail of late. Let's start with the non-suspects.

For example, I don't think that Rachel Dickens is involved. She sent an aerogram from Thailand, featuring tales of puttering around Vietnam on a 100cc motorbike and taking a holiday in Kashmir (!!) and generally being the sort of nonchalant badass you (not-so-)secretly aspire to be.

And I'm fairly certain DEK, of the delightful blog Elsewhere & Elsewhen, isn't part of the conspiracy. Probably. But this is a lovely postcard, either way:

Hang on, though--if I'm not mistaken, that smudged postmark is from Minneapolis. Which is where I live. And this, in turn, substantially raises the possibility of conspiracy participation. Fascinating. 

Lee probably isn't part of the conspiracy, either. Most likely. (Although I'm guessing he would be a willing participant if he were recruited for the cause, not that I am encouraging anything.) He recently moved from Baltimore to Salt Lake City--or, if you prefer your locations to be differentiated by HBO shows/stereotypes, from The Wire's hood to Big Love territory--and, in his explorations of his new city, found a shop that sells (among other things) vintage postcards. So he sent me a selection. 

By the way, New Yorkers: this is what the Midwest actually looks like. For real. 

Eva Holland is involved in all kinds of conspiracies, no doubt (kidding!), but probably not this one, because I see nothing suspicious about her postcard: 

And the same goes for Amarildo in Brazil.

And pie. Pie is innocent. There is no such thing as pie conspiracy--at least, I hope not. (Group postcard from assorted people in Seattle.)

Which brings me to the other cards. The truly suspicious ones, Pantone or otherwise. Some are signed. Some aren't. Of the signed ones, I know a handful of the correspondents, but not most. Some of them feature quotes from random books. Like this one from, uh, Trout Fishing in America:

And apparently both a yeti and a pirate are involved:

This was on the other side of the "Pirate Black" swatch postcard. Natch.
Sadly, no Elvis--at least, not yet. However, there is a hipster fish.

How do I know it's a hipster? I mean, aside from the lip piercing? 'Cause the back tells me so:

Suspicious, no? You know how I can tell it's part of the conspiracy? 'Cause it's fishy. (Sorry, sorry, don't glare at me like that.)

Needless to say, this is just the beginning. I won't post all thirty-plus postcards cluttering my coffee table, particularly since I suspect that if I were to go to my mailbox right now, there would be another handful of cards.

As I said, my imagination wanders. Maybe the first letter of every line of every postcard spells a message. Maybe it's all, collectively, some kind of metaphor or something. Maybe if I arrange the postcards, picture side up, they'll form a mosaic of ... of ... of the Mona Lisa and the dark truth about a murder inside the Louvre and clues in Da Vinci paintings, which will lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years--which could shake the foundations of Christianity. Starring Tom Hanks and that woman from Amelie. Directed by Ron Howard. 

My own personal private detective, Mr. Google, informs me that Pantone postcards come in packs of 100. Methinks this conspiracy may continue for a while.

And I'm kind of loving it.


  1. Yours is a kewl means of amassing both publicity and making fellow travel/writer pals.
    Nichole L. Reber

  2. so how many postcards do you have total, today (thursday,march 1)? are they better than letters?

  3. My card was posted from Vermont. Not that there's anything wrong with conspiracies, but the cool kids never asked me.

    1. Interesting. The postmark was quite smudged, but it looked like a long word with the telltale double-"n" in the middle. 'Tis oddly relieving, though, to know that not everyone is in on the conspiracy.

  4. Even though I know that I won't really be anon.....I still think you should post all the postcards because joy and fun should be shared. And you want to encourage us and others.


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