On Note Cards

When one hears “note card,” think not of index cards; of index cards think not. No, we write today of the enveloped, folded note card that one carefully pens and then entrusts to the public servants of the various postal services to be hand delivered, for a small retainer, to another gentleperson or persons.

A nice, simple note in the mailbox works miracles sometimes. The little old gentlelady who used to live down the street or the old chum who finds himself on Queer Street might need a kind word and often rejoice in the reading of such. The note card brightens the day, soothes the soul, and touches the heart. It sometimes affects the receiver, also.

This gentleman made a goal of dashing off (not too off, mind you) five note cards a week in this year, and most weeks the gentleman met that goal. He penned thank-yous to companies for fine service, congratulated politicians on smart/good decisions (i.e., those that mirror his own, of course), and he reached out to gentlepersons with whom he had not contact for some years. Some recipients acknowledged the effort, and some did not. The thought, as the young people are wont to say, counts.

A suitable, thick-ish creased white card stock, sold on the interwebs by Master Bezos, serves this gentleman’s needs quite well. The card takes the ink of the gentleman’s daily writers with ease, and the white simplicity takes little away from the words inside the fold–as should be. Nothing ostentatious suits most gentlemen. Perhaps leave the flowery designs to those who need distractions from the message of the missive. (Note: This gentleman is aware that a missive is a longer letter than a note card, but he could not resist the alliteration here. Carry on.)

The cards provide ample room to tell the eager reader on the other end about how much he or she means to the gentleperson writing the card. It allows for a bit of intrigue but not too much. Such details should be reserved for a true letter. No, the note card is simply that: A note. “You occupy my thoughts today,” or “Remember the good olden days?” or “Hope you and the Thaumaturge were able to put you back together,” & etc. Nothing too heavy, mind you, but strong feeling should flow from ink sac to paper from your strong writing arm.

Worry little that you write yourself into a corner in the note card. It happens to all gentlepersons. Write your way out of it, as others have advised. A mark through, while taking space, is better than a faux pas. Hopefully, you can say what you wish to convey on the one quarter of the note card without resorting to filling any of the other quandrants. Too much on a note card and, again, both writer and reader find themselves wishing a for a letter.

Which way the card opens to the reader (id est, the way the card reads/the way the writer put the words on the card) remains the choice of the writer, of course, but this gentleman prefers that the card open up rather than to the left. Menus should open to the left, if they must open at all, and, of course, books should. Note cards should not, in the humble opinion of this writer.

This gentleman’s note cards find themselves enveloped by a size A6. Again, white or off-white should suffice for the gentleman. Leave colors to the libertines. Envelopes, too, may be procured on the interwebs, but an impecunious gentleperson will most likely find some at the local Walton’s Mart marketed under the brand name Case Mate.

Writing a note card takes five minutes and brings the reader much more than that in happiness. Not a bad return on the time investment, what?

Carry on.

 

On Business Cards

In this modern age, a gentleperson finds that business cards have become somewhat passe’. That saddens this gentleman, for a business card can convey much useful information as well as provide writing space on the reverse of the card (if printing is not found there) for notes or reminders about the person or the meeting in which one obtained said card. The design of and the information chosen to be on the business card say much about the gentleperson who proffers it.

If one is unfamiliar with the practice, this gentleman recommends that a search be made on the nearest electronic device for calling cards or visiting cards. Here, for your perusal, is a handy link:  The Gentleman’s Guide. This gentleman effusively recommends the linked blog.

By way of tempting you to visit said site, here is a brief introduction to calling cards one may find there:

To the unrefined or unbred, the visiting card is but a trifling and insignificant bit of paper; but to the cultured disciple of social law, it conveys a subtle and unmistakable intelligence. Its texture, style of engraving, and even the hour of leaving it combine to place the stranger, whose name it bears, in a pleasant or a disagreeable attitude even before his manners, conversation, and face have been able to explain his social position.”

This gentleman heartily agrees.

Towards that end, this gentleman endeavored to obtain blank business card stock on which to hand write a calling/business card. This, he reasons, combines the social etiquette of the calling card with the information garnered from a business card. The fact that the card will be hand-written makes it even more personal. Also, such a practice gives this gentleman an excuse to use one of the scrummy daily writers. And, as mentioned, other information can be put there such as an invitation to dine or sup or even a short reminder of an appointment or event.

Note that in no way should a calling/business card be seen to have taken the place of the thank you note, the expression of sympathy, or a formal invitation. To attempt to fill both sides of a blank business card with such things that should be reserved for a card or a letter tells the recipient that the gentleman may not, in fact, be a gentleman because of laziness or the inability to follow social norms. It would be, in the vernacular, tres gauche.

This gentleman recognizes the ease at which one may transmit business information via the electronic device and appreciates that ease. However, as with letter and card writing, the calling/business card reminds us that there may still be a modicum of genteel behavior left in this world.

Carry on.

On My Daily Writers

This gentleman is currently reveling in a German Phase of pen using. The attached photo shows, from top to bottom, an Online using green ink in a medium nib, an Online using blue ink in a medium nib, a Lamy using blue ink in a fine nib, and a Lamy using brown ink in a medium nib.

The neophyte might wonder why a gentleman would have cause to use more than one pen a day. The answer, dear reader, may not be so simple. The reasons for using a different pen may include but are not limited to:

Purpose-I’ll use the Lamy with fine blue for signing a document rather than writing a letter, for example. (Note: Blue ink should be used by a gentleperson for signatures so that one can distinguish an original document from a copy.) The green-inked Online is great for quick note taking (The nib is smooth, the pen is light, and it seems to be able to write at any angle, so.); I usually take it out with me to run errands. This gentleman often uses the Lamy with brown for letters.

Mood-Yes, dear reader, a gentleman–one who sometimes finds difficulty in expressing himself in more conventional manners such as, oh, speech, for example, might feel like expressing himself in pen and ink. Exhibit One: The cheerful and robust roundness of the larger, heavier Online pen is perfect for boldly making plans in one’s Leuchtturm 1917 notebook or one’s Simple Elephant Day Planner. Exhibit Two: As stated, the brown ink in the medium nibbed Lamy looks smashing on a personal note card to a chum and creates the right amount of dash and a hint of daring-do. Colors share feeling. Add to this the tactile sense that each pen has and, remember, that a medium nib and a fine nib (or a broad nib, for that matter) will feel different on the paper as it writes. Those differences can both reflect and shape the mood of the discerning gentleman.

Fun-Frivolity, lightheartedness, and–dare we think it–silliness all make using different pens fun. This gentleman recently made an impulse purchase of two Platinum Preppy pens, one of them in red with a fine nib and one in blue with a medium nib. The Platinum pens look nothing like these shown above; they have clear bodies so a gentleperson can see the ink in the body of the pen. Soon, this gentleman will swap one or two of the current daily users for one or more of the Platinums even though the new pens are relatively cheapies compared to the Lamys or the Onlines. Why? For the fun of it all. Hobbies allow for that, surely?

Carry on.

 

On the Sending of Letters

This missive is sponsored, without their consent or approval or even knowledge, by the women and men of the United States Postal Service. Suppose a gentleman or gentlewoman asked a stranger to take a personal, written message several thousand miles away and have it hand delivered to another gentleman or gentlewoman. What would be the value of that incredible service? The USPS puts a value on that service at less than fifty cents in the currency of the realm. It remains simply the best value in public service.

On to The Topic. The physical act of receiving pieces of paper on which someone, preferably someone who holds a special place in your spleen, has pushed an ink-filled tool across said pieces of paper fills the human spirit with an odd joy. Is it that time–that oh so precious and limited commodity we take for granted always–was taken to write? That the paper and ink and stamp and envelope were handled by That One Who Loves us? That we, engaged as we are in our own rat-maze of life, crossed the mind of someone else in this lonely cosmos, and they thought enough of us to write?

Yes.

To hear, when a gentleperson comes in to the house, someone say, “You’ve a letter!” leaves, to paraphrase Philip Larkin, “Me flushed and stirred/Like Then she undid her dress/or Take that you bastard.” To pull la lettre (Note: letters are feminine in Romance languages) out of the postbox brings a wee bit of Christmas and Birthday to the recipient; it is a gift, a promise, an offering, an endowment. And, much like gifts, the joy comes in the giving.

Garrison Keillor (Who, if Dame Rumor is to be believed, is now part of the Great Disgraced/Once Beloved Club) says, “You can’t pick up a phone and call the future and tell them about our times. You have to pick up a piece of paper.” Some historians (This gentleman completely invented this reference out of whole cloth. He does that often. Too often.) argue that the invention of the cell phone and electronic communiques will confuse future historians because of the great gap in letter writing that such devices have wrought. More than a generation will have passed before (If?) we return to letter writing en masse. Perhaps, Mr. S.F.B. Morse, with apologies, God never worked the telegraph. Perhaps Old Scratch himself did.

This gentleman challenges his readers (The gentleman is an optimist–hence, the plural) to resolve to, at least weekly, pick up pen and paper or even pencil and post-card and change a life, even for an instant.

Carry on.

On A Gentleman of Letters

The word “letter” carries several meanings. A quick etymology search finds that the origin is unknown, but that the word can mean “…graphic symbol, alphabetic sign, written character conveying information about sound in speech,” from Old French letre “character, letter; missive, note,” in plural, “literature, writing, learning” (10c., Modern French lettre), from Latin littera (also litera) “letter of the alphabet,” also “an epistle, writing, document; literature, great books; science, learning.”

Yeah. All of that. And the horse it rode in on, as the saying goes, meaning the accouterments surrounding writing. This includes the pens, paper, ink, envelopes, wax seals (Yes, wax seals), and even the desks upon which things are written. Then there is the knowledge gleaned from researching the history and cultural importance of these items.

All of that touches on the Big Picture, the Grand Scheme, the Whole Enchilada of such themes as writing and knowledge being the essentials of communication, technology, and, especially when the topic is a love letter or a note of gratitude, the theme of love and the human experience. Thus, when we write a letter, we travel from the beginning of human written communication to the edge of human experience in a few pen strokes.

The posts appearing here over the coming indeterminate time promises to deal with some of these themes. The other concepts you’ll have to work out amongst yourselves. I’m not running a school for unruly children, after all. Or one for ruly ones, for that matter.

Some of the articles appearing here will simply be links or websites about writing or knowledge or even travel that have caught the eye or are of interest to the gentleman typing this. He may or may not comment on the links/sites. Hopes are not to be hoped, and expectations are not to be expected. It is what it is.

At this point, a word about the expectations of the gentleman, if you will be so kind as to indulge him. He firmly believes that civility, while neither created nor destroyed by such things as pens, good paper, and wax seals, can often be enhanced by such things as pens, good paper, and wax seals. They become items of discussion that can take one’s mind off untoward or uncivil thoughts and words. He is, however, not a prude–no, no, dear reader, far from it!–yet, he asks the favor of making an effort to keep the tone of discussion/commentary/ripostes jolly, light, and happy. As Elwood P. Dowd said, and he’s been quoted by so many, “In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.” Nothing wrong with knowledge, nosiree, but the gentleman asks that pleasantries trump one’s insistence on showing off. If anyone feels an uncontrollable urge to insult, demean, or engage in any such tomfoolery, he or she will be politely asked to find another natatorium in which to micturate.

Carry on.