Night Music: The Box Tops, “The Letter”

For a part of the summer between Elementary School and Junior High School, I was in love with a girl who was moving from seventh to eighth grade. Yes, an older girl.

I remember the joke that she told the night we (a bunch of boys and a bunch of girls, coincidentally) all slept out in our (adjacent) backyards. A girl is wearing a big dress. Someone says, I admire all your petticoats. She says, Oh no, I just teased my hair.

It took a while for us boys to understand (we weren’t thinking about pubic hair, I’m sure, and probably didn’t really know what petticoats were either), and while I can’t say it’s funny, I do remember. I think that counts.

We had some fun times that summer, surely driven by her and her friends enjoyment teaching us elementary school kids about growing up and our enjoyment learning, but at some point she and her family went on holiday to Cape Cod. We said we would write, and I did. Immediately.

So did she, but there was of course the lag before the mail was delivered. It seemed interminable. In those days of waiting, I sang along with what was the top hit in the country, everywhere. I’m not sure what the mailman thought, me and my friends trailing him like pilot fish, but when her letter came it was, um, a reminder that we were just kids.

But The Letter is still a great song.

Of course it turns out that the song was sung by Alex Chilton, who eventually became a great rock artist.

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