American Vitality

American Vitality

February 19


Dear Dr. Shann Vann, CEO of American Vitality,


I hope this letter finds you in rich health. My name is Frederick Duffy, and I am a consumer of your all-natural testosterone supplement, Enduring Male. I have attempted to contact your company on numerous occasions via your customer support email and toll-free number without satisfactory result; for this reason, I’ve decided an old-fashioned letter is in order. You see, Dr. Vann, I work as a financial planner for a leading insurance agency based in Lakeland, Florida, and I’ve learned via my interactions with customers that the written word holds a certain sway. I’ve come to believe in its power.


Let me assure you, I also believe in the power of the Enduring Male testosterone supplement. My wife purchased my first bottle—the Raw PoweRx Booster Pack for $39.95—as a ‘gag’ stocking stuffer last Christmas. I remember the gift clearly because I’d given my then fourteen year old son, Marvin, a weight and bench set and she’d had plenty to say about the irony. I’m sure you’ll agree that a forty-dollar male performance enhancer from your wife is a bit mean-spirited. I didn’t want her to see me take it that way, so as I’ve done throughout our marriage, I played the good sport and tried to turn the tables by swallowing three times the recommended dosage without a glass of water.


To be frank, I thought your product was bullshit.


Within the hour, however, it became clear to me that my mind and my body were changing. I assembled my son’s weight bench without instructions and when I realized the manufacturer forgot to include a hex key, I tightened the bolts by hand and used my thumbnail for the last bit of torque. At our Christmas lunch, I sat at the head of the dining room table without apology to my father-in-law, and relieved him of the electric slicing knife with a look that implied he was far too drunk to carve the turkey, which he was, though it was barely noon.


When we finished eating, my wife plucked the wishbone from the carcass and offered an end to Marvin. She said her wish was to drive the hour east to Kissimmee, just like we did last year, to attend the storefront church where her stepbrother serves as minister of music. I told her immediately that her wish would not be granted because there was no way I would spend another Christmas squeezed into an aisle of metal folding chairs next to Florida crackers quaking like epileptics.


And no one argued, Dr. Vann. No one argued.


My wife and mother-in-law simply left the table to talk in hushed tones in the kitchen, my son disappeared into another part of the house, and George excused himself to the den to sleep it off on the couch. I helped myself to a jigger of the old man’s scotch and stood by the hearth reading your product’s label, somewhat alarmed that it folded from the bottle in multiple pages like the instructions on a gallon of Super Concentrate Roundup…





About the Author

Forrest Anderson's stories have appeared in Blackbird, The Louisville Review, The South Carolina Review,  the North Carolina Literary Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of the doctoral creative writing program at Florida State University, where he worked for two years as an archivist and assistant for Robert Olen Butler, he also holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina. Currently, he lives in Salisbury, NC and is an assistant professor of English at Catawba College.