To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 12


I questioned even writing this letter because I’ll be up there so soon, but I can’t help being so excited. In three short weeks my masterpiece,“Two Businessmen High-Five While Bruce Lee Flying Kicks Out of the Explosion,” will be revealed to the world and will hopefully overshadow your most-likely-painfully-boring Shakespeare wedding. I’ll be honest, that video you sent me brought tears to my eyes when I thought about how much I’ll be sleeping through it. By my calculations, it should be about 95%. Don’t take it too personally though, I can sleep through anything since Dr. Frank cured my insomnia.

Frank’s miracle cure for me was threatening to shoot himself in the head if I didn’t get to sleep and fast. It only took a couple weeks of him telling me that I’d be the reason he was dead before I could shut my eyes and dream for a couple hours. The man is a genius, bottom line. I owe that man an unending amount of gratitude.

As for Steve Jr., I’ve already taken the liberty of calling “Oregon Adventures” and scheduling a “ManQuest” for a week before your wedding. The pamphlet says its a guided tour of the Ochoco National Forest, until the guides hand out pocket knives to your group and toss you out of a canoe and leave you to fend for yourself for the next 4 days. This seems like the perfect way to “man-up” Steve Jr. I’d also be killing two birds with one stone, as I’ve decided to officially make this your bachelor party. What an awesome time, right!? You, me, Steve Jr. and Pop, fighting for our lives, breaking the necks of rabbits with our bare-hands, developing our own culture and social hierarchy through knife fights! The only way we could make it more manly is if Han Solo came along on the ManQuest!

So get your testosterone ready, Mack. WE’RE GOING ON A MANQUEST!

Manfully yours,

To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 3


I’m so glad you wrote back! I’m also pretty happy that your letter has an even mix of normal human conversation and hateful slander. Are you getting soft in your old age? HA! I kid.

In the years that passed I learned that it was wrong of me to suggest adding regular tile-work to your business. The Glorious High-Five has brought you success, and, as you’ve said since we were young, “every time you have a thought, remember that your thought is shit compared to mine.” Sometimes I slip into this selfish mode where I think I have an idea, without even thinking first that your idea is better.

I am sorry that I broke your heart all those years ago, and I am truly apologizing now. I’m happy that, as you mentioned, you accept my apology! And don’t worry about hating me, it actually brings me back to childhood: being in the den with my toy train, and you coming in, picking it up, and throwing it into the fireplace, saying all the while “I hate you.” Over the years, as you threw more and more of my possessions into that fireplace, I grew to love it. The fireplace itself was the one thing you couldn’t throw in the fire.

But, enough of this reminiscing about the good ol’ days, bro; let me tell you all about my fiance Joanne!

During those self-proclaimed “bad years” I mentioned in my last letter, I would often get blackout drunk, wake up some place not knowing where I was or how I got there, and then repeat the process. At one point, I woke up covered in my own vomit at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I had apparently bought the highest priced weekend tickets. I had learned to just go with the flow of my blackouts and follow through with the next thing my drunken self had wanted me to do. So, I went to the following performance: Henry VI Part 2.

Now, I had no idea what to expect, but boy howdy was that a riveting performance! Suddenly, when Gloucester went to talk to his wife, I was spellbound: playing the Duchess (Wife of Gloucester), was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I had promised myself I would speak with her, but I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to do. I kept telling myself that I had to get over my anxiety because this was my one chance at happiness! I was sweating profusely, but after the performance I stood near the backstage area and waited to see if she would come out. Then I would risk it all and say hello to her. It couldn’t be that bad, I kept telling myself.

Luckily, when she came out she informed me that we had been sleeping together the past week and a half, but that I’d just been blacking out so often I couldn’t remember. My nervousness was replaced by a bit of shame and awkwardness, especially since she kept grabbing at my crotch stating that she “needs a fix.” It was then I knew that the bashful, quiet, and never-forgetful sober Mack was not the same as this debauchery-inducing drunken Mack.

I promised to clean up my act, and I did. I got off alcohol altogether. She told me she had been using performance-enhancing drugs in order to up the drama in her life…specifically cocaine. She got off the blow, and we’ve never been happier. We live a life of subtlety, quietude, and above all, love and serenity. We love to laugh at the little things in life, and let the beautiful music of the crickets lull us to sleep each night. We are two people who have seen the darkness, and within each other, found light.

Hopefully you think she’s as cool as I think she is, Steve! In fact, I know you will. She’s great. Plus, she loves burritos.

I want you to know that I am mailing this return letter out 52 minutes after receiving your reply. You mentioned that you needed me to respond quickly. I hope this will suffice.

Love you bro! Keep on kicking ass in the tile business. And let me know your decision on the best man thing as soon as you can. We’d love to have you involved in the wedding.

– Mack

P.S. I’d love to see your new sketches! Send ’em along.

To Tile or Not to Tile – Letter 1


What’s up, man? It’s been a while. Well, a bit longer than a while: 6 years, 4 months, and 27 days…but who’s counting?

I’m not sure if you still have the same feelings about me as you did all those years ago when you kicked me out of your tile business: the feeling that I am “a horrendous human being whose only contribution to the world will be my larger-than-life suck-factor.” I am hoping that by now it is all water under the bridge.

I am hoping this, but I am also worried that you will burn this letter prior to reading it, since you know just as well as I do that you were always a hard-ass. Some people said I had to be crazy to work for you, but damned if I don’t admit that you’re a GENIUS when it comes to designing and installing porcelain tile.

That’s right, Steve, I still respect you. After all, you are my brother. I would never let something as silly as a difference in opinion get in the way of our kinship.

We used to be so close. Growing up, we were inseparable. I’ll admit that you were always the talented one out of us two. I will definitely admit that. Tile became your passion, and you were a prodigy. When you were in High School and created that porcelain tile portrait of Mom and Dad high-fiving for their bathroom, I knew you were going straight to the top of that business.

I hope you know that I always appreciated you teaching me the ins and outs of the tile business. For the past 12 years, 3 months, and 18 days I’ve made installing tile my source of income, and it’s all thanks to you. You have a knack for it. Mom used to praise me for my expertise with the flute and for my Rainman-like ability to remember dates, but no matter what composition I created in her honor, or dental appointment I helped her not forget, your porcelain tile masterpieces secured your position as the child most loved.

I did not mean to make you so upset all those years ago, when last we spoke. I simply was making a suggestion that maybe your business should branch off from simply doing porcelain tile portraits of couples high-fiving. Yes, I know that there are differences: sometimes there’s an explosion behind the high-five, or due to it; and yes, sometimes there’s a shark giving a thumbs up, or a bear with a shocked-into-awe expression on its face nearby…but I just thought maybe we could do more conventional tiling for a change.

But, I don’t want to bring up old news. In fact, I’d like to bury the hatchet because…well…I’m getting married!

That’s right. Her name is Joanne, and I must say that we go perfectly together: like bread and water. I met her at a rather low point about 4 years, 2 months, and 12 days ago, and after a while we fell in love.

Despite our distance as of late, I would still like for you to be my best man. As you can tell from the return address on this envelope, I am now living in Ashland, Oregon: home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Joanne is a very well-respected player in the Shakespeare festival, so it goes without saying that our wedding will be Shakespeare oriented.

I hope to hear from you soon. Hopefully we can put the past behind us and look forward to a future filled with love and respect.

I love you, Bro.

– Mack