Between 12 and 16, I had several pen pals. I loved the stories and photos from different places around the country and the world.
By 15, I wanted to exchange letters with a boy and began to ask the pen pal group that supplied addresses for one of those.
I got a couple: One in England and one in Wisconsin, but neither was a good letter writer.
I’d about given up when I received a letter from Germany, and then began a young girl’s wildest dream. My pen pal struggled with English, and I knew no German, but charmingly, the words were all sweet and interested in me.
Then we began exchanging gifts—even rings. I laughed at the one I got—just like a guy to select a kind of chunky guy type ring.
My mother walked by as I was going through my box of goodies and picked up a bottle of cologne, a bemused look on her face.
“This is Tabac,” she pointed out. I shrugged.
“In German, that’s ‘tabacco.’ This is a men’s cologne.”
“No, Mom. My pen pal is a boy.”
My mother picked up the letter. (She spoke fluent German.)
“Ute. That’s a girl’s name…and she thinks you are a boy!”
Yes, my nickname was Willie, and we hadn’t exchanged photos, so each of us—two hopeful little women in training—had been practicing our wiles on each other.
It was a sad loss. Ute had seemed my perfect boyfriend. She was equally disappointed.
Love letters—we can read so much into them, often without knowing the whole truth of the sender!
Ariele M. Huff is a columnist, editor, freelance writer, and teacher of writing classes. She still wishes Ute had been a boy.
SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).
SHARING STORIES is featured on www.northwestprimetime.com, the website for Northwest Prime Time, a monthly publication for baby boomers, seniors, retirees, and those contemplating retirement. The newspaper can be found in the greater Seattle area and other Puget Sound locations. For more information, call 206-824-8600 or visit www.northwestprimetime.com. To find other SHARING STORIES articles on this website type "sharing stories" in the search function above.