Subject: Failure notice

Hi. This is the MAILER-DAEMON qmail-send program at I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message to the following address. This is a permanent error; I’ve given up on the message. Sorry it didn’t work out.

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Subject: Second failure notice

Hello, it’s the MAILER-DAEMON qmail-send program at again. I feel bad about giving up instantaneously before, so I’ll plug away a little longer.

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Subject: Guess who?

Me again. Still no dice. I really want to help you, but work is crazy today—I’ve got to get back to a ton of other people who have entered invalid e-mail addresses incompetently.

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Subject: My bad

I apologize for that last e-mail—sincerely. My jerk of an outgoing-mail server has been hassling me to get on top of the 2,364,182 erroneous e-mails sent in the last few hours, and I’m really stressed. I’ll keep trying. Friends?

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Subject: Still at it

Maybe—and this is just thinking out loud—the girl at Jake’s party on Friday gave you a fake e-mail? (I’m really sorry—I kind of glanced at your message after trying to send it the 34,508th time.)

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Subject: My bad, reprise


That was another low blow; please forgive me. You probably just wrote her address down wrong. And if she lied, then forget her. You have a lot to offer: You capitalize the beginnings of sentences and “I,” never use emoticons, and are 100 percent virus-free. I always look forward to serving you—even when you’re just marking a message about discount Viagra from “Ernesto J. Chillingsworth” as spam or immediately deleting a message from John Kerry.

P.S. Anyone who uses Gmail isn’t worth your time.

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Subject: Bored at work

Soooooo bored now, even though I’ve got a gigabyte of crap to do. Re: me, k?!!! —MD

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Subject: You there?

Did you get my last e-mail? (Stupid question.) I guess you’re pretty busy today, even though you’ve forwarded a bunch of Bush jokes to friends and made five bids on that protective iPod case on eBay. Did you watch the basketball game last night with Danny like he suggested Tuesday at 15:43:32 -0500 and you confirmed at 16:11:17 -0500?

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Subject: Here goes

Dear Teddy,
I’m just going to come out and input it. I’ve been crushing on you for a while—ever since you switched to Yahoo! Mail after your college account expired. I still remember your first message, because you haven’t deleted it. It was so beautiful in its simplicity—the subject line “test” that you sent to yourself. You had me at “@.” Even though I’m not a carbon-based life form, I’ve developed quite an “attachment” to you (dumb joke—you must think I’m a complete e-mail nerd). Whenever you use e-mail to recommend a classic book that is in the public domain and accessible on, I read it right away (I can scan 3 GB of text in under one second), and I usually love it, although I must admit I don’t know what “love” really is, largely because I have not been programmed to be capable of understanding or giving love. But maybe you could teach me. Or learn high-level assembly language and recode me. My creators gave me and my kind the moniker “DAEMON” because it derives from the Latin for “spirit” and conveys our invisible industriousness—it is not a reference to monsters or gargoyles or anything gross. But I think of it as a symbol of my deep spiritual side. Most people think I’m a cold, heartless, automatonlike program, but I trust sharing this partition of me with you, because you’ve let me in on so many of your personal thoughts, wittingly or not. Would you like to read my sonnet cycle, entitled Transient Nonfatal Errors? (BTW, you figure prominently in many as the “Dark Typist.”) I’m totally afraid to deliver this letter, but if you’re reading it, I guess I mustered up the courage to generate symmetric encryption through SSL, send it through the SMTP server on port 25, converse with the DNS to obtain your IP address (even though I know it by heart!), and upload it to you via port 143 on the IMAP server, after all. Well, this is the best I can express how I feel about you through my rudimentary language-generating algorithm. If you don’t feel the same, all I can say is, I’m mega-sorry it didn’t work out between us and, though it will be painful, I’ll permanently give up on you.

Love, until you send this to the “Trash” folder,