OUR YOUNG PEOPLE are writing with greater enthusiasm and frequency than ever before, largely because of the prevalence of text messaging in the youth culture of today. Yet the abysmal literary quality of these communications has often been remarked. Dr. Boli is of the opinion that this deficiency is to be attributed to the lack of good models, such as were readily available when he was a young man in the form of “standard letter-writers,” collections of letters for every common circumstance. In this occasional series, Dr. Boli attempts to fill that gap by providing useful examples to show how the art of text messaging might be raised to a higher standard.

Letter from a Gentleman to a Lady, disclosing his passion.


It cannot have escaped your notice that the considerable merits of your person and conversation have attracted my attention, and indeed on more than one occasion I have ventured to speak with you, however briefly. Having been moderately pleased by these encounters, I have resolved to declare my sentiments of affection for you, confident that in doing so I am making a rational decision that is reasonably likely to redound to the happiness of both of us.

You will doubtless be happy to know that I have done my “due diligence,” as the lawyers say, and have not entered into this enterprise lightly. When my attention was first attracted in your direction, I took some care to ascertain that you were indeed the sort of young lady to whom it would be suitable to pay such respects as I now express to you. For the preliminary survey, I was fortunate to be able to rely on the assistance of an acquaintance who is employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and please let me be the first to say that I find nothing unforgivable in your negligible criminal record. Judging by the police reports, I do believe that hot-dog vendor had it coming to him.

Having made these brief investigations, I determined to find out whether you were indeed the sort of person with whom it might be tolerable to share a household. It was, of course, essential that you should not observe me as I made my own observations, so that your behavior should be as natural and unaffected as possible. For this purpose the maple trees that give your house such delightful shade in summer proved eminently suitable. After weeks of observation, I determined that you had a charming way of attacking a grapefruit, that you did not leave the sink a revolting mess after brushing your teeth, and that you cheated only moderately on your income tax. In short, my judgment was on balance favorable to you.

Trusting, therefore, that you will grant me a favorable reply at your earliest convenience, I now sign myself,

Your affectionate admirer and sincere friend,