Mush is mush.
It's that syrupy sweet stuff that guys use to dissolve a woman's resolve.
But most men are so inept at handling mush that they end up stepping in it and looking pretty foolish scraping it off their shoes.
To the rescue of all marble-mouthed America males comes Elliott Essman and his computer. Essman has mixed high technology with old-fashioned romanticism to produce computerized mush that sounds like this:
"When we kissed, the world melted away. The rest of the people, all the noise and all the talk, didn't matter any more. Parting with you was so very difficult. You are my rhyme, my reason, the reason I live."
Gag me with an Apple IIc.
Since March, Essman has enlisted more than 270 subscribers to his Incurable Romantix love-letters-by-proxy service. An increasing number go to men who sign their own names and forward the letters to their wives and girlfriends.
Subscribers to Essman's brand of ghostwritten romance pay $35 a year for his once-a-month love letters (Incurable Romantix, P.O. Box 6919, New York, N.Y. 10128).
Eventually, Essman plans to tailor the letters individually to include information provided by the subscriber about the recipient's name, nickname, favorite color, favorite song, favorite movie and favorite fragrance.
Essman, a 37-year-old New York free-lance writer who runs a word processing business, keeps the letters sappy instead of suggestive. Most guys can be pretty crude on their own, so there isn't much demand for sexually explicit customized love letters.
If raunchiness is what you want, send an adult greeting card.
He also offers, for $50, a 50-page romance "novelette" that can be altered to include the title, setting and characters of the customer's choice: You too can be a fictitious character in Elliott Essman's imagination.
"I haven't sold any yet," said Essman.
A self-confessed rose-colored romantic, Essman's credentials include two divorces and the good sense not to send his current girlfriend any of his computer-cloned love letters.
"I just think she deserves something unique," he said.
Essman originally thought his form-letter love affairs would appeal primarily to female readers of romance novels who would pay to have somebody they don't know send them mush in the mail. If they wanted, Essman would sign the letter Tom Selleck or Engelbert Humperdinck.
Instead, his strongest response has been from men.
"A lot of men want to express themselves and can't. They have forgotten the art of writing love letters, but they have a real need to express their emotions," said Essman. "Men are also more likely to spend a little money on a romantic gesture like this than women are."
The secret appeal of Incurable Romantix just might be that most self-respecting men would feel awfully silly writing stuff like: "Whatever else happens in my life, whatever adversities I may have to cope with as life goes on, I know that our love remains a beacon in the fog, a light in the wilderness."
But since every hackneyed phrase, every overwrought emotion, every diabetic endearment comes from Essman, it makes it easier for men to pass the letters along as their own.
If it works, they win. If it doesn't, Essman's the idiot who wrote it, not them.
To Incurable Romantix subscribers, what's the difference whether it is computer composed or personally penned?
In the end, mush is mush