I've never had a best friend. I've always been the best friend runner-up, as in, "You'll be my best friend if he dies." So I work extra hard to be pleasant in the hope that someday, when no one is looking, I'll catch the best friend bouquet.
That is why it burns my briefs when somebody snubs an e-mail. "Me? Snubbed? But I was so good to him."
Everywhere you turn, e-mails are being dismissed by friends, colleagues, suicide prevention centers ... It's an outbreak of global proportions that should be addressed formally, maybe in Geneva.
Granted, everyone catches up with technology at their own pace. When my grandma leaves a voicemail, she still sounds like she is physically trapped in the machine.
Jason, is that you? It's your grandma. Can somebody give this message to my grandson?
She doesn't get the whole voicemail thing, just as loads of people don't get e-mail. They imagine that e-mails are like memos that don't require an answer EVEN WHEN YOU ASK FOR ONE.
Rule #1: E-mails are not memos. They are, in contrast, a courteous kind of phone call. E-mail invites you to reply at your own convenience without pulling you away from the momentous affair of watching TV. And every time you don't reply, the sender gets the message.
Rule #2: Friends do not snub friends. They may write back to say, "Quit buggin' before I smack you," but they do not snub. The moment you slight a friend's e-mail, you fall from a Category One friend to a Category Two friend, otherwise known as acquaintance.
Please note that you may not pass bodily gas around an acquaintance, nor may you ask them to drive you to the airport.
When confronted, some friends claim that they never received an e-mail, to which I say, "Bleh." Newer editions of The Bible affirm that sidestepping e-mails is, in fact, punishable by eternal damnation. It is God's way of preventing the following madness:
"Did you get my e-mail? I sent it this morning. Hmm. I wonder what could have happened. You sure you didn't get it? I know I sent it..."
Rule #3: Unless you get an error message, the addressee received your e-mail AND HAS SNUBBED YOU. I'm sorry you had to find out this way.
I have a friend -- er, acquaintance -- who sends me e-mails all the time but has never, not once, replied to mine. He's like Jimmy Bitzer who, in the third grade, would extend his hand and then, when I went to shake it, stuff it down his pants. The other kids are probably still laughing. So it goes.
In fairness, there are times when e-mails slip through the cracks or when you're just in a trash-with-the-world kind of way. We shall therefore permit one snub per quarter, no questions asked. You simply state that you are using your Get Out of Mail Free card. Choose this snub wisely.
It is always okay to snub spam, which includes, but is not limited to, offers to refinance your home, sell you a Rolex, fill your prescription, or hand over a jillion dollars on behalf of the ousted leader of Zubufulu, who desperately needs your help.
Some e-mails resemble spam but are composed for hand-selected victims. We will call this spam lite and await a ruling from Geneva. If you ever receive an e-mail that requires you to perform some action to save you from pending doom, the sender actually drops one friendship category and is subject to eternal damnation.
As a point of etiquette, friends also do not write long-winded messages. If you have to break it into chapters, it's not an e-mail; it's a phone call. I know a guy who actually broke up with his girlfriend BY E-MAIL.
She replied in person.
If your goal is to keep the world away and never drive anyone to the airport, then by all means keep ignoring e-mails. But if you want to have a real, live Category One friendship, you might rethink your snubbery. Otherwise you risk losing even your best friend ... and you-know-who will be waiting in the wings when you do.