Open if You Must

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I couldn’t resist. How could I not open a letter to the great actor Robert Wagner, former husband of Natalie Wood and sometime guest host on TCM? It was begging to be opened. The come-hither notice telling me I could choose to keep the letter sealed forever was simply too enticing to ignore. The stamp that said “Not At M.G.M Studios” was playing cat and mouse with my curiosity. Of course I had no choice. It was not up to me, but to the fates. But fate had something unexpected in store.


The moment I tore the seal, I realized what an error in judgement it was. Although I do not understand a word of Spanish, I realized that this message, seemingly penned by a distant fan 70 years ago, was imbued with strange powers. Opening the letter was like one of those vintage M.G.M. cartoons in which a character releases a whirlwind of insects from an otherwise empty wallet. Yes, out came the furies from the long-sealed missive, surrounding me as though some delicacy waiting to be devoured. What was this all about? Had I triggered a curse? Was I in danger of being consumed by the letter? Was this all an evil trick to entice me into the depths of the unknown? As I held the letter, an electric charge ran through my body, I stood paralyzed, and then …


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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →