Colin McEnroe

Henry James Answers His Email

Dear Jackets98,

It has been of the greatest interest — indeed, it has been delightful — to me to receive this night your so generous and informing communication, the subject of which ("Eat Pizza and Lose Weight") truly sparked inside me certain aspirations that I have long held secret but to which I will now openly subscribe.

I must congratulate not only you but also your sister. May I beg you to convey my felicitations over her losing 23 pounds in just one week? The nostrum of which you write, with its "Lipotropic fat burners," seems like a true godsend, as though Olympus heard me whispering, "I desire to shed 10 to 15 pounds a week without exercising or even rising from my recliner," and Zeus proclaimed, "It shall be so."

Pecuniary circumstances — some of them arising from my unwonted use of a credit card to inspect the activities of "Filthy Farm Girls," called to my attention by a dutiful correspondent not unlike yourself — forbid my ordering even the expansively discounted trial sample at this moment, but until such time as those circumstances improve, I will retain you tenderly on my mind, as it is exquisitely sensible to me that I am on yours.

Ever yours most cordially,


Dear Buddy's Club,

I am rejoiced to hear you speak so affirmingly of my manhood, especially with the regard to the bright prospects of enlarging it beyond my wildest dreams. Such has been my despair over that peninsula of myself that your sympathy and understanding were like twin beams of healing light erupting through the clouds.

But your tidings only swelled like sails with better winds. There were to be "NO agonizing hanging weights." Splendid, because I do not think I could abide weights that hung agonizingly even for this proud purpose. There were also, you assured, to be "NO painful and hard-to-use pumps." I confess I had entertained no thought that there would be, but even the scantest effort to provide myself with a mental image of such an enterprise was discomfiting.

I have conceived a lively new affection for life itself and now believe that, bolstered by this new surge of enlarged confidence, I will accomplish great things and engage the world in ways that have hitherto eluded me.

Owing it all to yourselves, I am your uplifted servant,


Dear Willy,

I think no other man writes so eloquent a letter — or one so open-handed — as your mail to me of yesterday noon ("Free Downloads of My Stepsister"). But I would be untrue to our budding friendship if I did not observe that your writing emerged unbidden upon my screen as a consequence of my efforts to fill out a short survey that might have won me a free BMW Z4.

I was never able to complete that inveigling questionnaire, nor was I, for many minutes, able to rid my screen of your myriad entreaties to gaze upon and otherwise familiarize myself with "Autumn," the young lady in question.

Perhaps it is because rumors (not inaccurate) of my forthcoming involvement in a promising business enterprise have preceded me, or possibly my prospect of a physique vastly improved by scientific weight loss has been bruited about. I blush to think of it, but there is even another long-delayed physical improvement in my immediate future and perhaps certain parties have gotten wind of that. Whatever the reason, I have, in just a few short weeks, received more entreaties to pass the time pleasantly with the most appealing and praiseworthy women than have constituted the entire rest of my life.

Still, perhaps this precise moment is not propitious. I will enjoy such companionship with more peace of mind after I have availed myself of a recent offer of debt consolidation that will, apparently, result in a new automobile and vacation opportunities for myself. Word has reached me this very day that I am already approved. Think of it, Willy. I am already approved.

I trust that my good fortune in this regard will create some patient allowance among you and the young lady for your tremendously attached new friend,


Colin McEnroe went to work for the Hartford Courant in 1976 and ended his days as a full-time employee at the paper in 1995. He still writes a column for NE, the Sunday magazine of the Courant. He has written three books, two now-long-forgotten humor collections published by Doubleday in the 1980s, and, more recently, My Father's Footprints, published by Warner Books. He has been, at various times, a contributing editor at Mirabella, Men's Health, and Mademoiselle. He currently does a lot of writing for Best Life, sort of a Men's Health spin-off. He has also written for Cosmopolitan, the New York Times Op-ed page, Forbes FYI, and lots and lots of other magazines. He has written plays, including "A Woman of a Certain Age," with music and lyrics by Steve Metcalf and Lary Bloom, produced at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  He teaches, usually in the fall, at Trinity College. He has a son, often known as Mortimer. He has no friends. He has puppets, and they told him to write this. Find him on the Colin McEnroe Show and on Twitter @colinmcenroe.