More Letter Writing Fun
May 16, 2007
With the rain pouring in Boston, and Dash busy writing a paper about, well, rain in Medieval Hebrew poetry, I’ve decided to post a prank letter that I wrote and sent in the mail today. The letter was sent to a good friend of mine. But more importantly, I managed to gank some an official departmental stationary and envelope, so the whole thing really looks like an official letter from our department. I’m reasonably confident that she does not read Yesterday’s Salad with any sort of regularity, so the surprise should not be ruined. Also, a few names have been left out to protect against Google searches. Anne Hathaway, Brandy Taylor, and Supreme Commander traffic only, please.
I wonder if this is how people procrastinated before the internet (and Gameboy. Let us not forget its powers).
Dear Ms. W—–
The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations is pleased to announce that you are the recipient of the prestigious Aga Hammerskjold prize for the Advancement and Recognition of Southern Women. Failure to forward this letter to nine other people will result in the immediate termination of this award.
After starting at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, Dr. Hammerskjold joined the staff of the Semitic Museum as an archaeologist and the NELC faculty as a reader in Coptic grammar. Whilst digging at Tell el-Khaleifeh in the Sinai, Dr. Hammerskjold contracted a terrible case of scurvy. He was rushed to the nearest hospital where he convalesced under the care of a “Southern Belle as charming…as two shots of Rye and cornbread.” (Heinr—-hs, 92) The two eventually married, and, upon his return to Cantab, Dr. Hammerskjold endowed an award for Southern women to study at NELC. Unfortunately, to the detriment of propriety, the department has not been able to dispense the award every year.
The bylaws of the prize require that the recipient fully embrace Southern culture: she is to wear petticoats not less than thrice in a fortnight; regularly bake buttery treats for her friends; encourage the advent of fishing “down by the old creek”; and abandon the King’s English in favor of the Southern vernacular. 1 Professor M—-n has promised to ensure that the winner will not be penalized for use of this jargon.
Sadly, as a result of mismanagement of the prize fund during the Dust Bowl era, there is no longer a cash award associated with the prize.
Please let us know of your decision to accept the award by the 30th of May. The attached paperwork should be filled out in triplicate. If you are currently voyaging on the high seas and cannot send post, the department is pleased to announce that we are now equipped to accept notice via semaphore.
Nickelodeon P Forswyth
Director of Egyptology,
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Committee on Post-Vernacular Studies.
1 At the time, King’s English was the only English dialect permitted within the hallowed halls of the Semitic museum. Latin was of course the lingua franca of the University writ large. (Hefferpuffer, 45)