Ask Dave: An Unethical Love Letter?


I thought I had shut my Ask Dave website down after receiving a number of complaints about the advice I’d given to a fellow who was trying to stay clean and after being investigated by authorities who rudely accused me of making up stuff about someone who closely resembled former New York State Governor Mario Cuomo. But apparently the site is still live and I recently got this letter:

Dear Dave:

A friend of mine expressed concern that his wife was growing bored with him. He wondered what he could do to demonstrate his love and add freshness to their relationship. I suggested he send her a love letter—the old-fashioned, handwritten kind—and tell her everything he loved about her and how important she was to him, etc. He decided this was a great idea. He set about his task and showed me a draft of the letter. Well, it was pretty bad. It wasn’t only the spelling and grammar errors, but what he said was banal and boring. I made a few strategic suggestions where he could make improvements but the next thing I knew I had offered to write the letter for him. He seemed enormously relieved and accepted my offer. I proceeded to construct a verbal shrine to his wife, word by word, sentence by sentence, which he copied in his own handwriting and gave to her. It was a home run. He reported that she fell into his arms and expressed her own endless love for him and said she had no idea he could be so poetic and that getting letters from him made her so happy and feel so loved. I will confess I got a little charge out of anonymously wooing this woman—who happens to be my friend’s wife! Now my friend has asked me to write an anniversary card for him. I’m sure the birthday card will be next. Plus, my friend told another mutual friend of ours about his good fortune and I’ve been asked to write a letter for this other friend, too. I realize if I charge a fee for my services, I might be able to build a successful business writing love letters for other people. Would this be unethical?

Name withheld

Dear Withheld:

By any chance, is your withheld name Cyrano and/or do you have a large nose? If so, I can tell you this will only end in tragedy. If not, and you’re acting only in a transactional nature and not secretly attempting to win over another woman, the rule of the pugilistic-style capitalism practiced in our country is that you can do anything you want short of breaking the law in order to make money, including emotionally harming others. In fact, you can likely break the law too. But before you launch your ability to turn a romantic phrase into a business venture, I’ll ask you to think a bit, Name Withheld, about the recipient of the letters you ghostwrite. How would they feel if they found out the truth about who is writing these love letters? I think there would be a lot of unhappy people, including you. Clearly, you are participating in a plot to deceive these recipients, so I’d say if you’re so interested in plots and deception and love drama that you use your skills to write a novel.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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