Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Sensual Art of Passing a Note

Some people say that school’s going to be starting soon. I say that if we are lucky, school is always in session. Now that we’re all grown up, we have the glorious opportunity to study those things that were forbidden to us as students. Like passing a note. It’s tons of fun, now that we don’t have to worry about getting into trouble. Indeed, getting into trouble might be part of the fun now, right?
By passing a note in English class, one of my characters starts a love affair that lasts most of his adult life – and he was just trying to ask her to write a paper for him! (Not to worry. She said no.) Imagine what you can do if you set out to write a little sexygram. A little bit of effort, a pinch of cunning, and a whisper of luck, and you are well on your way to a little afterschool special of your own.
Ready, class? Let’s begin.
1.       Get out a piece of paper. Yes, you have to use paper. I know it’s easier to send email and texts and all that fabulous electronic stuff. Pen (I know I don’t have to tell you to use a pen, right?) and paper are going to be harder to work with, but they are well worth the effort. Why? Because they’re sensual. Your reader will touch the surface once warmed by your hand. Make your reader think about the way you hold the pen. Make your reader imagine you taking out that piece of paper. Is it stationery? Did you rip it off something? Were you in a meeting? Did people see you writing? All these dimensions are only available to you if you use paper.
Do not be deterred by your handwriting or your spelling or your grammar. Just be careful. I would never dream of turning in a first draft, and neither should you. Check things over first. Make sure everything is spelled okay. Slow down and make things as neat and legible as you can. Don’t let this paralyze you.
Here’s a quick aside for the readers. The note writer is trying to do something nice for you. There is a possibility that the handwriting will be a challenge to read. TRY TO READ IT ANYWAY. I have visions of people taking this note back to the writer and asking in the least discreet manner available, “What does this SAY?! I can’t READ it! You know, your handwriting is just AWFUL! And I don’t think you spelled this right!” And you know what? That’s not sexy. Sound it out. Use context. Your writer went out on a limb to write you this little love note. Don’t jiggle the limb.
2.       Use your imagination. I think it’s best to use your own words. It doesn’t have to be flowery or anything. It just has to be you. Three or four sincere words about something you love or something you notice or something you appreciate or maybe something you’d like to do – that’s all it takes. It’s not forbidden to use someone else’s words as long as they have meaning for both of you. If you know your reader’s favorite lines of poetry or lyrics or a favorite quote, copy them down in your handwriting. You’re not passing the words off as yours; your reader knows they’re someone else’s. The point is that you know your reader loves those words, so you’re making a gift of them.
It’s important not to fake this. If you retreat to the Internet and copy down something that’s “supposed to work,” your reader will know because it isn’t going to sound like you. It isn’t going to have relevance to your relationship. It’s going to sound like something someone else told you to say, which is what it is. And you know what? That’s not sexy. Don’t let this paralyze you either. I just scolded your reader about not being receptive to your best efforts.
3.       Make it happen, Cap’n! Now that your note’s all done, you are ready to get it to your reader. Great! Take some time to scope out a place you can put the note where your reader will discover it. Be careful with this. The inside pocket of his suit jacket only sounds like a good idea. Not long ago, I borrowed one of my dad’s suit jackets (it’s a lovely shade of disco-era salmon), and when I reached into that inside pocket, I found a ticket to the Last Dance of the Seventies from New Year’s Eve, 1979. On the other end of the spectrum, I tucked a slip of paper with some dialogue notes into my purse just yesterday, and now it seems to have disappeared. So the purse is not such a good idea either. You cannot run the risk that the note will get stale. And why delay gratification if you don’t have to?
So where is a good place? Somewhere your reader goes frequently but alone. Under the cell phone or the keys. Under your reader’s watch. The pillow. If you are using these places correctly, your reader will happen upon the note and have some alone time to read it, even if it’s just a few minutes while you’re brushing your teeth. Choosing the right place is magic; it says you notice the little things your reader does. Do not shift the burden to your reader by putting the note just anywhere in the belief your reader should find it. Do not put it somewhere that people will see your reader pick it up and ask, “What’s THAT?” Do not put it somewhere children can get it. (Not that your children would read it. Certainly you raised them not to open and read other people’s private mail.) This note-passing is an intimate business. Pick an intimate delivery location.
All right, class. Your homework is to get cracking on that sensual note! You can leave your questions and your PG-13 success stories just below in the comments.

On the first Wednesday of the month, Alexa Day's Below the Fold strives to make sexy part of the new normal. But why stop at once a month? There's more hot fun to be had on her blog,, every single Thursday. She's even got five easy ways to make your home a haven for sensual notes. Go look!


  1. Hi, Alexa! Fun post and well thought out advice on how to take a "fun" exercise to a higher level! I shy away from any thought of hand-written notes, but your point is taken. There IS something more intimate about a hand-written note, in the knowing that the person opted not to use the easier modern methods to convey their thought. Now, where is my pen?

  2. Ancient Greek philosophers once said that "everything beautiful is difficult." Handwriting is hotter! Just think -- your reader is going to go over every loop and downstroke. Every jot and tittle, as it were. Machine-produced notes won't get *that* kind of attention!

    Enjoy the games!

  3. Love this idea, Alexa! My husband and I have been known to pass notes, but I must confess we've succumbed to the ease of e-mail, probably because neither of us can read the other's writing. :-) But you're so right - screen text is so sterile, so impersonal. I'm inspired to try hand-writing the next one. Thank you!

  4. You're welcome! Write slowly and sound everything out, and then enjoy the slow burn!