I’m no stamp collector, but even in this modernized world, my wife and I remain regular USPS customers for a variety of purposes, and not just for receiving grocery circulars or avalanches of unread political ads during every election season. When it’s time to restock our stamps, I prefer not to settle for buying the commonest sets available because I’m enamored of the notion of stamps as a decorative flourish, even if they’re affixed to envelopes that no human will ever directly see or handle. I appreciate that the clerks at our regular post office are patient with me whenever I ask to see all the available varieties on hand. I especially appreciated their tolerance the year my wife and I exercised a random whim and mailed some of our Christmas cards using a sheet of Hanukkah stamps. They certainly had plenty of sheets available.
The USPS previously captured my attention and fandom with stamp series devoted to super-heroes and Pixar. Now they’re blatantly baiting me again with their new Great Film Directors sheet, which celebrates four legendary men and one each of their celebrated films: Frank Capra and It Happened One Night; John Ford and The Searchers; John Huston and The Maltese Falcon; and Billy Wilder and Some Like It Hot. I refuse to believe it’s coincidental that they chose four films I’ve actually watched and liked. Someone in the Postmaster General’s Office is clearly angling for me.
The stamps are available online now, but I’m resisting the urge as of this moment. If I do yield to temptation and buy a sheet, the hard part will be letting go of them when their time comes. Like it or not, I’ve already come to terms with knowing deep down that I don’t have the predilection for full-time philately. I accepted this after coveting the Pixar stamps for months, letting them stay in my greedy possession and gather dust in an out-of-sight drawer, until I finally relented and set them free to serve their intended purpose. I try to kid myself that if just one mailroom intern at just one of our utility companies glanced at our monthly payment and felt a frisson of delight at the sight of Sheriff Woody’s twinkly smile in the middle of their humdrum workday, then setting those stamps free was worth it, I guess.
Either way, I appreciate the efforts of the USPS to atone on behalf of the AMPAS for The Searchers‘ complete shutout at the 29th Academy Awards. How ’bout them apples, whoever made Around the World in 80 Days for me to snooze through? Have fun waiting for Cantinflas ever to grace the corner of my mortgage payments.