The 4,003,461st love letter ever written, February 14, 1909

Cupid's arrow struck my heart and your left nostril.

Dearest Rebecca,

I cannot stop thinking about your nose. Your perfect, inimitable nose. The way your nose smells of sweet roses when it’s near to me. There’s never been a nose like yours before and there never will be a nose like yours again. Your nose completes me. Without your nose, I would be a desert without sun, a forest without trees, a sonnet without a fourteenth line.

I would literally be unable to survive without your nose. When your nose is not within 1500 yards of me, I find it difficult to breathe. Your nose is my nose, and I require it to take in oxygen. I am gasping even now, as I try to put pen to paper, but can sense that your nose is far.

There are things, which are best not put on paper, that I would like to do to your nose. Sometimes, when you are asleep, I gently caress your nose, knowing that even if I cannot see it in the darkness, it is there, it is perfect. When the first rays of sunlight hit your face in the morning, I gasp as I catch sight of your nose once again.

I would do anything for your nose, but don’t ask me to kiss your hideous mouth.

Love,

Peter

Analysis:

The most interesting factoid about this letter, the 4,003,461st love letter ever written, is that for many years researchers assumed this to be the 4 millionth love letter ever written. Copies were printed in newspapers and magazines, young lovers memorized it to recite it to each other, single people bragged about not caring about it. For a brief, two-week window, noseloveletter fever swept most of the United States and Europe. Then, a researcher at Harvard University (in Farnswell, North Dakota) discovered a trove of 3,461 love letters under a sink in his bathroom. Though their authenticity was questioned, it soon became apparent that the four millionth letter was nothing more than wishful thinking.

Further research indicated that the actual four millionth love letter was written by a disaffected 26 year-old Frenchman, which really bummed everyone out about the whole idea. As quickly as it began, noseloveletter fever disappeared. Marketers tried to recapture the feeling 20 years later, with the “Hoover may be full of pluck, but you’re the gal I’d like to meet” campaign over the supposed six millionth love letter ever sent, but people were too busy cramming themselves into phonebooths and speculating on stocks to be bothered. In fact, it wasn’t until 1987, when the Reagan Administration declared Valentine’s Day a national requirement (“to restore our faith in love”) that anyone bothered to remember this poor letter.

In case you’re interested, there have now been 44,812,003 love letters sent around the world. In recent years, this figure has been passed by both chain letters and summonses to child support hearings as the number one form of letter-driven communication. Angry political diatribes are expected to surpass love letters in 2016.

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