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Wednesday, October 6, 2004

The Recently Recovered Love Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Daniel Maurer

May 24, 1888

Dear Rachel,

Look, I’m not trying to get you back. I understand you don’t want to see me anymore. Fine. I just want to apologize for last night. I said a lot of things I shouldn’t have. And I’m sorry. I really am. But remember, you said a lot of stuff too. Like calling my painting “crude and amateurish”? That doesn’t just go away. But whatever. I don’t want to argue with you anymore. I’m done arguing. What I do want—and this is why I’m writing—is my ear back. I know I told you to keep it, I know I said I would rather be deaf than live without your voice, but we both know I was pretty loaded on the green stuff. So, I need the ear back. Now that I’ve had a chance to sleep on it (well, obviously not on it…) I’ve decided that hearing is kind of important. Obviously you know this—always bitching about how I never listened to you. Yeah, right! I was definitely listening when you told me Starry Night was more like a Sorry Blight! Or maybe you don’t remember that?

Look, I’m not trying to be accusatory here. Honestly, I’m so over it all. But I do need to get that ear off you. So maybe I can drop by this afternoon to pick it up? And that’ll also give us a chance to wrap things up? (And can you please do the same with the ear? A little worried about infection. O.K.?)


June 5, 1888

Dear Rachel,

So I stopped by your house and no one was there, or probably you were there and just not answering. What’s the deal? You know I need that ear. You could’ve at least left it on the porch or something. Or should I just stand around seeping blood? I mean, you are aware how much that sucks, seeping blood from the head? Or I guess you aren’t, since you would never have cut your ear off for me. But whatever, the point is—I need that back. To hear with. So look, if you’re so scared of Big Bad Vince that you can’t see me in person, how ’bout you just pop it in the mail, O.K.? I mean, this is a serious inconvenience, but whatever. I am determined to be big about this. O.K., so mail the ear. Thanks.

June 22, 1888


Really concerned. Your last letter—“No ear, go away”: I get the go away part, but what’s this no ear? You mean you’ve thrown it in the trash? Or you can’t find it? Or you refuse to look for it? Or are you saying that I have no ear, which, believe me, I’m very well aware of. I take it you’re too busy messing around with other guys to form a complete sentence? Or look for my auditory canal? Trust me, it’s there somewhere. Probably under your panties—you know, the ones that got soaking wet when we were making out but then you’re like, “No Vince, not now. In fact, not ever.” (Is it any surprise I cut my ear off? ) But look, I’m not going to get into it. I’m over it. Really. I just want to hear again—although I don’t know why, considering all I hear from you is, “No Vince, please—your face is too gnarled.” Who says stuff like that? My face is too gnarled? O.K., no seriously, I’m over it. I’m O.K. Except that I’m missing part of my visage. Please, for the love of Christ, return the friggin’ skin chunk. Like, now.

I’m serious.
July 19, 1888

My Left Ear
Please contact owner Vince van Gogh for possible reward.

What kind of reward? How about this: I won’t call all of your friends and tell them you’re a friggin’ hooker. Or your mom. I bet you didn’t know I have your mom’s number? Ooh, I bet I got your ear now, huh? No. Actually, YOU have MINE. For the love of sweet Jesus, GIVE IT BACK.
August 3, 1888


How utterly typical. You finally respond to one of my letters and it’s just to mock the ear I drew. Yeah, real funny. First of all, you know how I hate your referring to my paintings as cartoons. And second of all, the yellow is intentional. For the thousandth time, the yellow is intentional. It’s a reflection of my innermost being. Someday I’ll find a woman who understands that—hell, someday I might even find an art dealer who understands that. But in the meantime, you know what? I’ve hired an agent—she’s real smart (and a lot sexier than you, too)—and she says this ear thing might just be the hook I need. She’s already drafted a press release. So keep the thing, baby. Just make sure you turn it over to the curators of the Vince museum when they come calling. That is if they can hold their noses long enough to walk down the piss-stinking alley your knocked-up, drug-addicted hooker’s ass is passed out in.


This bitch has spoken.
July 1, 1890

Dear Rachel,

I know it is too late for this, but I am sorry.

After all these years you have probably succeeded in forgetting me, but I just wanted to give you the satisfaction—if only because I gave you so little else—of knowing you were right about me and my “art” (that curious euphemism for the foolish self-indulgence of youth). I’m happy to report that the passage of time has made a wiser and better man of me—I have not touched the bottle in some years and I am now really into Wellness, as my yoga teacher calls it. Don’t laugh—It keeps me peaceful. I also work out a lot. I don’t think you would even recognize me if you passed me on the street—I keep my beard neatly trimmed and I’m even getting a six-pack! (And I don’t mean of absinthe! Sorry, little joke there.) All in all, life is good. I am working full-time as a P.T. (that’s personal trainer), which doesn’t give me any time to paint, but I think that’s good—these days I’m all about the human canvas: abs, pecs, gludes. Of course I was not telling the truth when I said I had hired an agent—clearly a crazy idea.

I hope you are keeping things equally Real. If you ever need a discount on a gym membership (or anything else), I enclose my card along with some coupons.

Vincent van Gogh
Personal Trainer

P.S. No sweat about the ear. The gym is so loud anyway! XO.
Daniel Maurer can also be found at McSweeney's, Stop Smiling, Modern Drunkard, The Modernist, The Black Table. Free Williamsburg, Broken Newz, and Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. He has also written for Nerve, Shecky's, Arriviste Press, Metro newspaper, and others.