My Dearest Marjorie,

There's something I've been wanting to say for quite some time—22 years, to be precise. But it wasn't until I saw a crab moulting its shell on the beach this morning (I always walk on the beach on Wednesday mornings between 7:15 and 8AM) that I finally realised something incredible (or should I say incrabable, haha).

I've got a shell too.

I've got a bloody great shell and I didn't even bally know it!

The only difference between my shell and the crab's shell is that mine is in fact metaphorical (but that doesn't half stop it being heavy!). And instead of it saving me from getting stabbed by a seagull beak, it saves me from getting stabbed by people (again, metaphorically).

You should have seen this crab, my dearest Marjorie—the way it squeezed its vulnerable, gelatinous body so disgustingly out of its armour and into the open air, as if to say, "Please hurt me ASAP!"

Would you believe I'm a Cancer? (Not that astrology is scientific).

As I watched in silent fascination—I must have been standing there for hours and I do in fact have the beginnings of heatstroke—I came to the gradual realisation that a lovely lady such as yourself could only hypothetically love the parts of me that aren't hidden away beneath a tough but rather impressively stoic exterior. And that's a crying (or not crying, in my case!) shame.

You see, I was married once before, and—without quite realising it—I grew tired of only being an eighth loved! If I were a pizza, my last wife (who's dead [not because I was tired of her but she fell into a ravine and it's a long story]) only ever got to taste one slice (but I'll wager that were she still among us, she could testify that it was a particularly delicious slice!).

Let us not repeat the same mistake, my darling Marjorie (assuming that you receive this letter in the manner that I hope and intend, which is with a lovebursting heart and an eagerness to be wed before June [which is my birthday month and I thought perhaps we could go abroad in celebration and visit my Aunt Belinda in Coventry]).

I have outgrown this cold, hardened exterior. I must shed it now like the courageous crustacean I am and let you see everything that lies beneath—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want you to love all of my slimy, vulnerable, gelatinous body (metaphorically but also somewhat literally). I will shed this shabby shell, and while I'm at it I might also shed my trousers because there's something else I really want you to see (I have a birthmark on my left thigh in the shape of Japan—I hope you won't find it a distraction [not to sound presumptuous because I'm certainly not presumptuous]).

Also, the thing I wanted to say for 22 years is that I think you're beautiful and kind and I love you, even though you sometimes make very strange fashion choices. For example, the polka dot dress you were wearing last week didn't match very well with the chequered scarf (but we can iron out these little problems later)!

Will you be my Valentine (should that be capitalised [and also I'm sending this letter on Valentine's Day so you won't get it until afterwards but I would still like to take you for a walk on the beach every morning between 7:15 and 8AM from now until forever, if you'll have me (and my Japan birthmark)])?

All my love,
Craig Nipson
The End