The struggles of crafting an email response
“Dearest Jessica,” he began typing.
Dearest Jessica? What is this, writing an email to your aunt, thought Bobby. Too severe.
“Yo Jessie,” he corrected.
No. Too flippant. This isn’t high school, he agonised. Also, what if she hates being called “Jessie?” He had a friend Thomas who hated being called “Tommy.” But Thomas is a guy and Jessica is a girl. Maybe girls are more partial to things like that? Furthermore, Jessie could be a guy’s name; what if she thinks I think of her as a dude, thought Bobby. No, I certainly want to show her that I appreciate her as a girl, and am not merely dude-zoning her.
A single bead of sweat started to coalesce on his forehead.
Much better. What has it been, twenty minutes? Two words so far. That’s pretty good progress, Bobby thought. What now?
“Thanks for your kind attention, I greatly appreciate it.”
Too formal, too needy. Delete, delete, delete. Geez, if only he hadn’t paid so much attention during English lessons when they were teaching him how to craft a proper response letter. Now he’s perpetually stuck in curmudgeon mode.
“You are beautiful. Words fail me as I try describe your beauty — time and again I have had to delete sentences because they were not satisfactory. I ache each time I see your face because my shyness, my inferiority precludes any attempt to strike up conversation. Like a sublime sunset, you shine and light up those around you, but inevitably unattainable and on the other side of the world.
But it is okay, I seek not your approval; only to let you know that you are beautiful.
But I will not lavish empty words of praise on you; I would not throw out “perfect” and “divine” because we are all human, and we are more than our physical assets. Your slight gap between your teeth, your slow, crooked smile rends my apart, but just as much so your affection for dogs, your commitment to helping your fellow mates.
I would love to get to know you more, but that is more than I dare hope for. After all, who am I to take up your time?
We might work in the same office, and I see you every day, but we never exchange more than the obligatory cordial smile and nod. I’ve never been more self-conscious every time you’re around me — at the lifts, at the cafeteria; I worry about whether I look presentable around you even more than when I look in the mirror.
I don’t know how to talk to you. I fear my mouth would open and silence would gush out — worse, maybe even something offensive. Thus the wistful smile, the upwards push for the lips by two reluctant cheeks, guarding that which may be terrible. I want to talk to you, but I don’t know how.
So I opt for the written word, safe behind the power of edits, backspace and spell-check.
And with that, he trashed the draft, and took a wank, lubricated by his own tears.