My friends, the rockstar librarian over at Sheets & Blankets has given me an idea. Unfortunately, since there is no one to whom I am authorized to write actual love letters, I've decided to institute a new feature on my blog called Love Letters to People I Don't Know. Rest assured that often, while I'm writing them, I will be sighing deeply, as tears splash melodramatically and copiously on my keyboard.
Gregory Peck will be first. He died last year, but he lives on in my heart as, seriously people, the ultimate man. Whenever I pass his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on my way back from the Farmer's Market on Sunday mornings, I always leave flowers; and whenever I see a movie at Grauman's Chinese, I put my hands and feet into his hand and foot prints on the sidewalk. I love Gregory Peck, my friends. He was bewilderingly handsome, and by all accounts, virtuous and kind. Even in his later, white hair, enormous glasses, and bushy black eyebrows days, sometimes I'd run across him hawking KCET on my TV box or something, and close my eyes and just listen to his voice. Dreamy. They just don't make 'em like that anymore. So on that note:
Dear Mr. Peck,
I was only a girl when I saw you in To Kill A Mockingbird with your kind, handsome face, gentle hands and that beautiful summer linen suit. After that, I imagined what it would be like if you were my father. I grew up in my mother's house, but the way you played Atticus Finch made me wish for a father I could lean on: steady, honorable, and tall enough to lift me high above any troubles that might pull me down in the woods. That's not to say that I don't love my own father very much, but he's always been far away, and he's never really been available to watch over me or defend my honor. Later, it struck me that you'd have made a supremely comforting doctor, too. I imagined that as I suffered in the throes of some terrible sickness, you could put one of your enormous brown hands on my knee and tell me in your sonorous voice that everything would be alright, and there's no way that everything could ever make a liar of you. If you had become a priest, as I once read that, as a young man, you wanted to do, I would have embraced the Roman Church on the strength of your presence there alone, and should I have confessed tearful sins to you, I would have prayed my rosary with fervent passion, and believed completely in your absolution.
Later, when Roman Holiday became part of my personal mythology, I experienced my first blinding crush on a movie star with epileptic intensity. If I had been Princess Anne, and you had kissed me on the banks of the Fiume Tevere after we swam to shore from a barge lit for dancing to escape the secret service of my fictional country, I know I could never have returned to the palace. Princess Anne is definitely a better woman than I am. Oh, how cheerfully I would have forsaken all of my crunching crinolines, satin slippers and duty to my country to die the poor wife of an American newspaper man! I can remember watching as a little girl, my lips parted with rapt and breathless expectation, the scene in which your Joe Bradley says his good-byes to Audrey Hepburn's Princess, and crushes her birdlike frame against his broad chest. My stomach was actually churning with the physical sensation of envy, but I knew my love for you was the kind of sensation that would keep me on the straight and narrow in the years to follow, and would always make me dream of something finer. I still watch Roman Holiday once a month. A girl needs to be reminded.
I've never quite been able to believe that I deserve, or could bear the love of a man like you: so tall, handsome and good. It seems like such a thing would be too rich for a girl like me, and I would feel greedy if it were all mine. When I imagine what it would be like to be looked upon with affection by a man with your soft, brown eyes, it's with girlish purity of heart, all trembling chasteness and downcast eyes. I would want to be sure there was a pink satin ribbon in my hair, and that my nails were perfectly modest.