Subject: Miss you babe!
Hey babe, Where are you? I miss chatting with you! I’ve just been sitting here alone on my webcam, naked, waiting for you. In fact, I’ve been waiting so long I took up embroidery, which has been amazing! It’s both meditative and creative. And I’m about to finish my first sweater! So if you sign on, I may be deep inside a blanket stitch. Sorry if I have to keep you waiting, honey! I’ve gotten really hot just thinking about you!
So, to cool down, I started rereading Chaucer! Wow! What a rediscovery! So dense. But so (deceptively) fun! Can’t wait to see you, sweetie! But if you sign on tonight, I might be busy traversing Canterbury! If I am busy, you should go chat with one of my girlfriends, like Trixxxie or Roxxxana. They’re great! Of course, I’d love to get dirty with you, but I totally understand if you want to hang with some new chicks. I’m actually not so into the idea of a monogamous webcam relationship anyway. I have big dreams! I want to flirt with perverts from Paris! And even Africa! Maybe learn to play an instrument, besides my usual ones! So call me! Or don’t! Either way.
<3 Alexxxa <3
From: Mr. Jeffrey Obassanjo
Subject: Urgent Reply Needed
Dear Sir or Madam, It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the death of my uncle, a rich Nigerian prince. After his passing, we discovered that he had acquired a significant sum of 48 MILLION US DOLLARS.
Unfortunately, for this money to be released, it must be transferred to a United States bank account.
In exchange for access to a US account, we would be happy to reward the recipient with 10 percent of this sum (4.8 MILLION US DOLLARS).
We have selected YOU as the recipient.
However, we are also considering your neighbor Larry Stanowitz. We know you think Larry already has enough money, constantly flaunting his new Peugeot and grocery bags from Balducci’s, but we’re not looking to do charity. Just for a bank account.
If Larry is unable to accept the money, we’re also considering your colleague Sheila Drucker. Even though she’s a corporate brownnoser and your only direct competition for the VP promotion, we think she might be a good candidate for this financial gift. Again, we’re not looking for a model citizen. Just a bank account.
Please respond to us at your earliest convenience.
But if you don’t, as mentioned, we will likely just go to Larry or Sheila. They seem pretty cool too.
Sincerely, Mr. Obassanjo
Subject: Confirm GMail Password!
Dear Account Member,
Your Gmail account requires you to confirm your password. If you do not reply to this email with your password within twenty-four hours, your email account may be blocked.
Which might not be such a bad thing.
I mean, do you really need to check your email so frequently? Your incessant monitoring has become a kind of psychosis. It’s eroded your relationships and deactivated your slower, but more substantive, criticalthinking skills.
This love affair with communication has become an addiction, a fixation for which society at large—not just you—is both the victim and the aggressor. Whether it’s the constant bombardment from your mother with the pictures from her book club (it’s called a book club, not a take-a-picture-of-everything-you-eat-during-bookclub club) or passive-aggressive “updates” from your friends with children, telling you how happy they are and how parenting is so much easier than they expected, it’s all a dragon you will always chase and never catch.
Your Gmail account is just another prison of your own making, a panopticon of desperation surrounding you with guards of loneliness. So you could respond to this email with your password, but it’ll probably just perpetuate this dangerous cycle.
Maybe it’s best if you lay low for a bit. Enjoy the outdoors. Go for a walk. Talk to a stranger.
Sorry to bother you.
Excerpt from Bream Gives Me Hiccups, released September 8, 2015 by Grove Atlantic and available on Amazon.