“NOTHING TO WRITE HOME ABOUT”

There is an expression in English which has fallen into disuse. In fact, when it is used today, the speaker must assume that she or he must explain away such an obvious anachronism.

Ready for it?

Wait for it.

“Nothing to write home about.”

Benign. Innocent. Tantamount to useless. (I am speaking about the expression, not its meaning which is tantamount to useless, underwhelming, less than impressive, a “real glass of water” which we used to cavil when somebody brought nothing to the personality parade.)

What happened?

Just about everything. First of all, many of us have never left home or have established our residence ages ago and thus there is no reason to write home about anything. Only this morning I intoned to my wife of 51 years “…that my conversation last night was nothing to write home about. But,” I added, “I was home already so it was altogether a non event.”

In the second place, who actually writes letters anymore? (On real paper from that company (AMERICAN STATIONERY) that printed up tons of cheap personalized stuff that we all used when first we left home.) When I was at boarding school we were ordered to write home at least once a week. Our floor master would come to our doors every Sunday morning to collect our letters home (children of divorce were given a choice as to which parent got lucky) and we were gigged with extra duties if we could think of nothing to tell our folks since last Sunday.

I can only imagine that Milton Academy no longer requires the regular letter home via USPS inasmuch as email, FB messenger and Skype are available in everything from an iPhone to the nearest laptop. I can imagine that some students (with whom I have nothing in common) regularly email home things like “Got an A on my Lit paper.” “Killed my Geometry final!” “LOL in Phys ed when Fatty Smith couldn’t do the rope climb.”

It might seem vaguely absurd to write home to tell one’s parents there is nothing to write home about. Or, even, a modern take (is that a meme?) might be, “Nothing to IM home about.”

While others may weep over the death of epistolary brilliance in this solid state world, I, for one, will never cry over my struggles to find something to say to my then-living parents besides, “Got through another week, tried out for the play, don’t know if I got the role, had my short story turned down by the jerks on the literary magazine and can’t eat almost anything they serve outa that kitchen.”

I am also known for hating epistolary short stories, epistolary plays and films.

“Dear Mom and Dad: I hate it here.”

“Otherwise, nothing to write home about.”