Mary Lou was at the computer, using e-mail to put her busy day in order.
A traveling, discount drapery saleswoman was having a “showroom” at a suite in a local motel. Mary Lou was going there with her sister. She wanted to make sure that Beth didn’t order some disastrous shade and pattern again.
She also had to wish her mother a happy birthday, and remind her sister that they were taking Mom to dinner that night. This was not necessarily a pleasant prospect, depending on Mom’s level of feeling put-upon. Better send two e-mails to Beth, who could handle only one thought at a time.
Mary Lou also had to exchange daily insults with Bob, a platonic friend since high school. She was proud of this day’s gem: “Has the CDC called back about your rash?”
And she had to mobilize the Friends of Miracle Whip, because the nearest supermarket had stopped stocking it again, offering only Best Foods mayonnaise.
Mary Lou was distracted by an annoying, warbling noise. What in the world…oh, it was the telephone. Who used anything but cell phones and e-mails these days?
While she was rejecting the telemarketer’s offer of a credit card with zero percent APR for 27 days, the doorbell rang. She found that the UPS guy had delivered her latest catalogue order from Penney’s, and was driving away.
But there was a fireman on her doorstep, wanting to inspect her garage for fire hazards. He was a hunk, but didn’t anyone realize she had things to do?
Returning to her desk, Mary Lou found her cat, Transfat, eating an insurance claim she had to deal with–darn, another e-mail, to the agent. The claim was for an injury she had sustained while trying to open a blister pack containing a pair of scissors–scissors she had ordered to deal with blister packs, and the impenetrable plastic inner bags in cereal boxes.
She shooed the cat, who tipped over a large, open box of paper clips. Mary Lou used a magnet from the refrigerator door to pick up most of the paper clips. She quickly fired off her e-mails, and went to take a shower. She had several errands to run.
Gary was dumbfounded when he saw the e-mail from Mary Lou. Neither of them knew that his e-mail address was just one letter different than her sister’s e-mail address.
Gary had lusted after Mary Lou for years, but after he had divorced her friend Susan, Mary Lou had not been friendly. Now here was a bold e-mail from her: “2 p.m. Saguaro Breeze Motel, Room 142. Mary Lou.”
Gary was elated, and more than a little nervous. He canceled his 11 a.m. appointment and went to get a haircut, his heart doing little flips.
Mary Lou returned from her errands a little after noon and checked her e-mail.
Beth had e-mailed, “When do we meet at the motel?” Early-onset ditziness, Mary Lou thought.
There was an e-mail from her insurance agent saying, “How did you know about my rash? Who are you?” Uh-oh.
Mary Lou was getting an uneasy feeling when she read the daily message from Bob, her old high school buddy: “That’s a pretty lame jab. You know my birthday’s in April.”
Scared now, she opened an e-mail from her mother: “Who is the ‘Old Dragon’ you and Beth are taking to dinner? In your dreams!”
Mary Lou checked the earlier message she had sent to her sister. Yep, there it was, 2 p.m. at the Saguaro Breeze–oops, that address was not quite right. Who would have a sign-one similar to Beth’s? Ohmigod. Gary the lech?
After a few minutes of panic and profound chagrin, Mary Lou sent out a gang e-mail to cancel the meeting of Friends of Miracle Whip, being careful to check each address.
Putting on her sweetest voice, she phoned her mom and tried to convince her that the “old dragon” was Beth’s mother-in-law, and they had confused the birthday dates. Happy birthday, Mom. Mom sounded almost convinced.
Mary Lou then called Beth and informed her that they were going to Scottsdale to shop for drapes, rather than risk some sleazy “showroom” operation. Furthermore, they were taking Mom to a very nice restaurant in Paradise Valley.
Beth sounded puzzled, but she usually did whatever Mary Lou dictated.
Gary showed up at the Saguaro Breeze at 2 p.m., sharp. In room 142, he found a not unattractive woman named Mavis selling draperies.
Gary was puzzled, but turned on what he imagined to be his killer charm. He bought $1,200 worth of drapes for his rented apartment, and took Mavis to dinner. Afterward, they returned to room 142 to look at more drapery fabrics.
Gary is still wondering how Mary Lou could have been so cruel.