I logged onto my e-mail account yesterday morning and there it was. Staring at me like a snake. To the untrained eye ( and the undamaged heart ) , there was nothing threatening about the e-mail. It sat there calmly, minding its own business and causing no observable trouble. It did not contain a virus and its subject line shouted out a cheery 'Hi there!'
The return address told an entirely different story, though. The e-mail was from her. You know who I'm talking about. You all have a 'her' in your lives. She is the type of person who snubs you at cocktail parties. She is the type of person who does not return your phone calls. She is the type of person who stuffs her tongue down your throat and then pretends that it never happened. She is the type of person who dangles you from a string for nearly seven years, preventing you from becoming emotionally involved with anyone other than her. She is the type of person who sends you an e-mail just when you are about to get over her.
'Damn her,' I said, still staring at the unopened e-mail, choking back a sob of desire.
I willed the e-mail to leap off the screen, rip open my blouse, bury its head in my breast and tell me that it is in love with me. But, instead, the e-mail remained nestled between a spam for penile enhancement and a note from my mother ( usually the most dangerous thing in my in-box ) , blinking at me with pointed indifference, and rocking back on its little cyber-heels as if it didn't have a care in the world.
'Damn her,' I said again, using the cursor to stroke her e-mail address in such a way that I feared FBI agents would burst into the room and arrest me on charges of erotic manipulation of a mouse.
I knew that the sensible thing would be to delete the e-mail without reading it. But any regular readers of this column ( are there any? ) will know that the word 'sensible' isn't in my vocabulary. So, I clicked on the subject line, closed my eyes tight, and waited for something terrible to happen.
When the computer didn't explode, I opened my eyes and read the message. Here's what it said in its entirety:
How like her not to include a verb, I thought. Verbs, after all, are a call to action. Even the most passive verbs help other words achieve their goals. ( Case in point: you don't 'sex,' rather, you 'have sex.' ) But she lives in a world of grammatical inertia. She surrounds herself with nouns that promise a lot, but do very little. How could they when they are not powered with the ability to conjugate such verbs as to think, to feel, to commit, to act, to love?
I sat in front of the screen for hours trying to craft a measured response. It was tricky because our relationship operates in exact opposition of Newton's Third Law of Thermodynamics, which states that for every action there is a reaction. In our case, for every one of my actions, her reaction is dead silence. So, I stood a real risk of unleashing my heart and letting it romp unsupervised across the e-waves, with no way to protect it against what promised to be certain rejection.
Finally, I settled on the following:
'I fine. How you?'
I pushed the send button and spent the next day checking my account every few minutes for her response. I'm still waiting.