More Like Brevity Or Bust

The other day I opened up an old issue of The Paris Review to a poem by Elizabeth Neiditz,  That I was not Insane, or Worse.

The ending lines sounded familiar:

And my father, a master of the two-line letter

And the fifty-six second phone call,

Liked to say that “brevity is the spice of life.”

My father, to my knowledge, never said “brevity is the spice of life”, but he was a master of the two-line letter and the fifty-six second phone call.  My only exposure to his letter writing was the notes he included with the checks he sent when I was in college, the full text of which was something like “I know you need this so I won’t waste time writing much.  Love, Dad”

The phone call was not really fifty-six seconds because Mom would talk longer, but Dad would come on to say hi.  Fifty-six seconds would have been a long time on the phone with Dad.

I have no idea why conversations with Dad were inherently brief, but a possibility for the brief letters occurs to me.  Dad was an excellent attorney.  I have been told that a big reason for that was his thoroughness.  He covered all the details.  I suspect that this was not a difficult skill to learn for him, that he had a natural instinct to be thorough.  The letters had to be brief, since any expansiveness would then require a detail or two to be covered.  Much simpler to keep it down to the bare bones.

Then again, maybe he was just busy.

I know as I blog that my goal is to always be brief.  Mostly because I do not like blogs that consistently have long posts.   I can’t believe I am the only one who feels that way.    But my efforts to be brief are constantly frustrated by the desire to explain a bit more.

If this PDF (4.06 MB) is relevant (and I believe it is), then Elizabeth Neiditz is now Elizabeth Benedict.

I must confess that for all of Dad’s brevity in letters, I make him look like Dickens in comparison.   I have written too few letters in my lifetime.

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