A red dress gone wrong.

Ask Electra, our digital agony aunt, addresses what to do with a poor emailer.

The Digital Age comes with its own problems, real and virtual: social, romantic, sexual, practical, parental. More than ever we need a good old-fashioned agony aunt for the Internet Age who will tell us how to navigate these new waters. Unfortunately, we only have Electra, who doles out her brand of Greek advice with a kick. Got a virtual problem? Ask Electra and brave her total honesty: [email protected]

Dear Electra,
I’m dating this guy who I’m totally into. He’s finally doing what I’ve been wanting a guy to do for so long: wooing me. For example, he recently sent over a limo, a dozen roses, and a box with a red dress in it to get me ready for our date that night. It’s like a fairy tale. But then I get emails from him where he continues to misspell my name. Or he’ll reply to some funny banter with an embarrassingly un-funny response. In short, he’s an awful emailer and it’s a real turn off. Is this a relationship killer?

Dear KC,

Wait, wait, I know this one! He also took you to the opera, and gave you his credit card to shop at Rodeo Drive, where they wouldn’t tend to you—BIG mistake—and then you fell in love, but then he took you to this polo match and told his colleague you were a prostitute, and then you had a big fight, but it all turned out well when you told him: “You hurt me, don’t do it again,” and he agreed, and you never had to walk the streets in front of the Blue Banana ever again!

See, had everything not come up so  goddamn roses for you in the end, I would have told you that the relationship killer here is not the bad emailing skills, but that he sent you a limo and roses and a red dress in a box. Any man who takes tips from cliché (yet beloved and highly quotable) romantic comedies of the 90s should be avoided at all costs. (I bet he also wears bow ties.)

The wonderful things he did for you he has probably done—or is doing—for several other women. Not because you’re special to him, but because he thinks that limos, roses, and red dresses are what women really want, which means he has absolutely no clue what women want (hint: for the man to whom they’ve been giving head to at least get their name right), and what is more, he does not care to learn.

And before I go any further I would like to make a very important point: a red dress is a) hard to pull off, b) has to be the right shade of red, and c) has to be the right fabric not to look cheap. Nobody should ever gift a red dress, ever. A red dress should only be bought by the person who intends to wear it, and only if the fit, shade, and fabric are right. Then you have a winner.

But don’t get me wrong. I do not wish to undermine the importance of good emailing skills. Wit is an attribute that very few blessed people possess. They are so few and far between, so cherished, that most of them end up writing advice columns. Not because they have good advice to give, but because they know how to deliver it.

I have been looking for such a man for a long time. I’ve looked for him on planes and trains, in restaurants and bars, offline and online, at the gym, at the grocery store, in museums, art galleries, movie theaters, parks and recreational centers, street corners, and under the newspaper blankets of homeless people.

All I have found are emoticons. Happy emoticons, sad emoticons, winky emoticons, idealistic emoticons, pragmatic emoticons, possessive emoticons, expressionistic emoticons, ontological emoticons, rhetorical emoticons, noncommittal emoticons, retributive emoticons, resilient emoticons, uncooperative emoticons, strafing emoticons, emoticons and nothing but emoticons. Emoticons, dear Roses, are what killed all the cowboys.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that a man who is as good over email as he is in real life does not exist, not really. If he does, he is probably writing an advice column. And perhaps men are not supposed to be that good at emailing, just like they are not supposed to be very good at dancing: where and most importantly, WHY did he learn to salsa like that? The hips never lie.
If you think you have something real with this guy, despite all the red-dress flags, then try to forgive his email persona. Emailing is redundant, if not unnecessary, when the time spent face-to-face is good, anyway, and nobody’s perfect. Except for advice columnists.

Photo by Jason Hargrove

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