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Email Embarrassment

Gray skies. Sinus headache. Fresh out of coffee filters. It’s a crappy morning.

Which is why, when you check your email and find an overly chipper note from an overly perky acquaintance, you are inspired to rant like Dr. Laura during a hot flash.

Your vitriol is not aimed directly at the emailer, of course. Technically, the buoyant broad has done nothing wrong. Technically, you can’t fault her for sending that reminder about the school fundraiser, even if it does contain far too many exclamation points and all-capped words and phrases like “SUPER-FUN way to support our OUTSTANDING extra-curricular programs, and get a holly jolly jump on your holiday shopping, too!!!”

Technically — officially — you must respond with a note that matches her disturbing effervescence note for note. And you will. Right after you type a blistering tirade about this woman’s acute and unnerving glut of glee (I think “Anyone who can get this excited about gift wrap needs her meds adjusted” are your exact words) and send it to your blessedly bitchy best friend.

At least, that’s where you thought you sent it. But no sooner has the thing left your outbox than it strikes you: You don’t recall hitting the “forward” button.

Oh, no no no no no. Sweet Jesus. You hit “reply.”

And though that miniscule error took less than a second to make, the fallout is tremendous. Stomachs clench. Arm hair stands on end. And much audible gasping ensues, both on your side of the screen … and on hers.

Never was the word “oops” more inadequate.

Because it’s one thing to think like a shrew, and it’s another thing entirely to type like one. Now you have exposed yourself as someone who is not only unsupportive of SUPER-FUN programs and recklessly indifferent to the holiday shopping rush, but duplicitous, too. And mean. And perhaps worst: technologically retarded.

Would that the world were more idiot-proof. If only email had an “un-send” option or a pop-up window that could safeguard us from our own stupidity by asking, “Are you sure you want to tear this person a new one?” before it would allow you to send.

Short of that, here are a few ways to recover when you inadvertently bitch slap someone via email.

1) Blame it on your children. How many times have we let ourselves get into trouble because we didn’t take this easy, and relatively harmless, way out? People are amazingly forgiving of children, and let’s face it, your kids probably did something bad at some point that they weren’t blamed for, so it all works out karmically. Try this: “I’m so sorry. The two-year-old was messing with my computer again and thought it would be funny to call you ‘a self-involved strumpet who has yet to master the possessive apostrophe.’ Personally, I didn’t find it funny, and I told him as much.”

2) Chalk it up to a virus. Not yours, but your computer’s. (Although, if you can convince someone that bronchitis made you do it, I say go with that.) “Haven’t you heard of the Insult virus?” you ask, with appropriate horror. “It infects your email and sends nasty messages to everyone in your address book. They seem so real, too. It called my boss a slave-driving weenie, but I guess if he can laugh it off, you can, too!”

3) Claim you’re bipolar, and work the sympathy angle. “Ugh, I have to apologize. You caught me in my manic phase: impulsive, aggressive, quick to anger. But I want you to know I’ve purchased plenty of gift wrap to keep on hand for my next depressive state. If it can do for me what it did for you that would be REALLY SUPER!!!”

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