# A love letter - or is it?

George always has had it with the girls. Those who don't find him irresistible at first sight could usually be won over by a ride in his shiny red sports car. If there has ever been a problem with girls for George, then it was how to handle multiple at the same time without having them fight each other. It therefore came as quite a shock to him, when he first met Kari just after moving town. She is undoubtedly the most attractive woman he has met so far, but as much as he tried - and he tried a lot - she's just shown him her cold shoulder so far. She has hardly spoken with him!

And for the first time, George is really in love.

He tries for weeks to gain her attention - always close of not becoming a stalker - but to no success. He is close to giving up - maybe he should just jump off the bridge ? - when suddenly, one fine Wednesday at work, Kari walks up to him. Without saying much, she hands him a neat envelope with some fine, hand-written "for George" on it, then turns around abruptly and hurries of into her office without giving him a chance to chat with her.

When George opens the letter - about half a page neatly written in all capital letters - he first can not make head and tail from it. Should this be a sick joke? But something tells him, it isn't. So he cancels the weekly card-club this evening and instead spends all night working on that letter. He finds all sorts of clues, but while some things really sound hopeful, others mightily depress him. No wonder he is tired and grumpy the next day in office. Kari isn't in, which doesn't lift his mood. In the evening, he rings up his best friend Robert and they meet in the Red Sofa bar. Robert is a computer nerd and keen puzzle enthusiast, so he promises to have a crack on the letter.

Next afternoon, just before work finishes, Robert calls George in the office. He's really excited, because he could finally crack the code. However, George has to cut his friend short as he goes on an on about the various ways he had tried to read this message. Grudgingly, Robert agrees to just send George the email with the plain text.

George reads this letter and acts like one could expect.

# Now, did George finally date Kari? Or did he drown his sorrows in the Red Sofa bar trying to set his mind on somebody else?

The original message George received on the letter ( - transcribed to ASCII text for puzzler's convenience - ) is the following:

DO DATING SINGLE,
DOUBT NOTICED BELONG IF HIGH NOTICED OF A POST BE!
IF CENTER OR AT THE YOUR HIGH HOUSE OFFICE BEFORE NEVER CONSTANT,
CAN LETTER MEET THAN YOUR: YOUR FOR HIGH TOWN FIRST NEVER RESTAURANT.
WILL CENTER WAIT THERE BRIDGE. IF EARN THE YOUR BLUE TOWN TIME HANDSOME.
PARK JUST TIME AFTER PUNCTUAL? ASSUME YOUR INTERESTED HAVE ARE SO?
WHERE WITH SHADOW. IN YOUR CENTER RED TIME LITTLE THAT IF AND INTERESTED
IS INDEED DEAR YOUR. IF GOOD YOUR AFTER SIXTEEN CHINESE. IF ME INDEED
THEIR RESPECT I NIGHT TOWN THEIR CLOSES SATURDAY INDEED CHANCE OFFICE USE.
IF WITH NOTICED MIGHT YOUR THIS. IF WE TOWN MIGHT YOUR ATTENTION THEIR
LET WHO THEIR LIVE BOY BUT JUST. SCHOOL NOON YES BEAUTIFUL GROUP BECOMING
ONLY CENTER SHADOW THEIR BECAUSE STUPID. CAN IF DOUBT NOTICED MIGHT AFTER
BRAIN FRIDAY THEIR FOR TO AM ATTENTION NOON. IF AND NOTICED THE SUGGEST.
SPEAK IF TELL WHERE MIGHT ONE GIVE LAKE ALONE THEIR PREJUDICE ON COME ATTENTION NOT.
IF WITH WANT FRIDAY SMART MY INDEED THEIR LIVE PEOPLE BELIEVE THEIR HOPES SEE.
IN YOUR DOUBT NOTICED COMPANION NIGHT GIVE, PARK IN YOUR ASSUME NOTICED RATHER,
IF WITH NEXT STARS WOULD YOUR.


Note: You do not need the story to decipher the letter. The cryptogram is self-contained in the text. The deciphered text is plain English. (Might contain spelling or grammar mistakes, but not on purpose.)

Puzzle-answers without a decrypted letter are invalid.

• Why would anyone waste time with this cryptic letter if she was not interested? – kanchirk Jul 27 '15 at 16:31
• @Kanchirk Do you mean Kari or George? If George: Mysteries of love ;c) If Kari: You will only know after reading the letter ;c) – BmyGuest Jul 27 '15 at 16:54

Next Friday is ambiguous, but:

On the assumption that next Friday means the Friday of the following week, then George meets Kari. If next Friday meant the Friday of the same week, acting as would be expected probably means he went home and cried, because he got the coded message Wednesday, asked for help Thursday evening, and got the answer Friday afternoon before finishing work, which would be too late.

The message is below:

DEAR CONSTANT SHADOW, DO NOT BELIEVE I HAVE NOT NOTICED YOUR PERMANENT ATTENTION! I CAN ONLY ASSUME THAT YOU HAVE HOPES OF BECOMING MY COMPANION. BUT LET ME TELL YOU YOU FIRST HAVE TO EARN MY RESPECT. YES, YOU MIGHT BE RATHER HANDSOME, BUT I ONLY RESPECT PEOPLE WHO CAN USE THEIR BRAIN. I DOUBT THAT YOU BELONG TO THIS GROUP. OR IS THIS A PREJUDICE? ARE YOU INDEED HANDSOME AND SMART? WE WILL SEE. IF YOU CAN READ THIS LETTER THAN I AM INDEED INTERESTED IN DATING YOU. I GIVE YOU A SINGLE CHANCE. I LIVE IN THE RED HOUSE NEXT TO THE CHINESE RESTAURANT IN CENTER OF TOWN. I WILL NOT MEET YOU THERE. I WANT TO MEET YOU AT THE LAKE WHERE THE LITTLE BLUE BRIDGE IS. SATURDAY NIGHT WOULD BE GOOD BECAUSE ONE CAN SEE THE BEAUTIFUL STARS. BUT I DO NOT MEET A BOY FOR THE FIRST TIME ALONE AT NIGHT. I AM NOT THAT STUPID. SO I SUGGEST WE MEET ON FRIDAY JUST AFTER THE POST OFFICE CLOSES AT NOON. I WILL WAIT FOR SIXTEEN MINUTES IN THE LITTLE PARK BEFORE THE HIGH SCHOOL. IF YOU DO NOT COME NEXT FRIDAY, OR IF YOU ARE NOT PUNCTUAL, I WILL NEVER SPEAK WITH YOU.

To decode the message:

Put all words in the message in alphabetical order. The decoded word is the one to the left of the coded one in the series.

• Congratulations. Answer as intended. (I should have made the Friday issue more clear in retrospect.) Well done. How did you go about it? How did you find the code? (I call it Word-Caesar code.) – BmyGuest Aug 10 '15 at 10:29
• I started off on the right track because the structure was clearly letter-like. At first I tried putting the words in an 11x19 grid. I did various things to the grid for a while, thrown by a few phrases that contextually almost worked (e.g. "assume your interested"). At some point I gave up on grids and noticed the first word, which in a letter would either be "dear" or "to", had the right number of characters for the latter, and started with the right letter for the former. Thats when I put the words in order. I've come across the idea before, years ago in a solve-it-yourself mystery book. – greenglass Aug 10 '15 at 15:50