Message In a Bottle

I sent several of these off when I was a kid.

My dad was a captain, and I spent a lot of time on ships, cruise ships, and I wrote a little note, sealed it and threw it overboard, and lo and behold, months later I received a letter in the mail from an elderly gentleman who had found my bottle, read the message and was kind enough to write me back.

That is kind of magical, although I don’t think it made that big of an impression back then after the initial excitement. I also received several “fan” letters after my solo show in Miami years ago, those really made an impact on me; moved me to tears.

What if someone travelled all the coasts of the world collecting bottle messages, and then wrote love letters back to the senders, and hired a little plane to deliver them all over the world? How would you like it if a crusty old fighter pilot in some old plane came to your door wearing a leather helmet and goggles, with a love letter you never expected from that guy you saw those few times years ago, connected with briefly, but always asked yourself, “Why didn’t it happen, why didn’t I pursue that?”, and then ding-dong your doorbell rings, and this old guy delivers you a message.

“Sorry it took so long to get this to you, I had a hell of a time finding you, but I promised I would deliver this to you. So here you go,” and you open the wrinkled envelope not even sure who it’s from and the paper is dog-eared and yellowed and bent in the corners, and as you start to read you begin to remember that summer in Greece with your friends, camping in a tent on the beach and there was that group of English people and everybody hooked up and it was strange, and that one guy who you really liked but was too shy to pursue, he’s written this letter and it’s beautiful and he tells the story of how he always wanted to kiss you, but never did because he was afraid you would say no or turn your head away, and now he’s married with two teenagers, his wife has died from breast cancer and he always thought of you and why he didn’t kiss you and by now tears are rolling down your cheeks, his name was Martin and as you read his words you remember his sense of humor and his tan and the smell of saltwater and sun on his skin and how much you wished he’d bend over and kiss you but he didn’t and you just got that whiff of his scent and he lightly touched your hand, and you remember all the kisses that never happened, and all the love that wasn’t made and you look up at the crusty old pilot and ask if he’ll take you there, just fly you straight to Martin’s house and he smiles at you a sad little smile and he says no.

“I’ll deliver a letter for you, but my plane only fits one. You’ll have to get yourself there,” and you ask “Where does he live?” and he says “I don’t know. I picked up this letter on the western coast of France. It could have come from anywhere, from the English Channel; from a ship in the Atlantic. Did he not leave his address?”, and you frantically look back at the letter and skimming the rest of it, turning it over and looking again, but no there is no address just his name, his first and last name, and the name of his town. Isle of Man it says. Isle of Man.

You thank the crusty pilot and ask if he can come back tomorrow; you need to recover and time to write your response. He says he’ll be back tomorrow at 3 p.m. and he’ll deliver the letter for you. As he leaves he turns around and winks, “Remember to put a return address on whatever you write.”

You nod your head and smile through the tears and he walks off.