REAL LIVES: MAN'S WORLD

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Indy Lifestyle Online
ONE OF my millennium's resolutions is to spend less time with my family - not my real family, but my internet family, a wide-ranging e-mail network providing a steady stream of gossip, support and inspirational poetry. Thanks to my modem I am in constant touch with faraway friends and relations. They are not, sadly, my friends and relations.

Last June someone, somewhere, got my e-mail address mixed up with someone else's. The first misdirected message I received began, "Hi guys! Guess what? This is my very first e-mail!" I meant to write back and point out the mistake, but I never got round to it. I now receive about a half-dozen e-mails a week from a group of friends based in the American mid-west. It's too late to point out the mistake now. After all this time it would be a little embarrassing to admit that I am not the woman these people went to college with.

To be honest, I was addicted from the moment I read all about Karen's new job in Knoxville and Lauren's first week at daycare. Since then I've had reminders to call Danielle on her birthday and long letters about how difficult it is with Steve working in Iowa and getting home only one weekend a month.

Of course I can't actually join in. I don't even know which one of the friends I'm supposed to be. For months I thought I was Melissa, but then I got an e-mail from Melissa. Who am I? Sally? Lynn? I know I'm a woman. I know I'm in the book club, and I seem to have a particular fondness for funny little articles about how tough it is being a mom.

I don't understand why no one has caught this error. Clearly there is someone in this close-knit community who isn't getting any of the potty- training updates, someone who has no idea that Jenny and Ray are having trouble selling their house because the driveway is so steep. Why hasn't the friend who they think I am complained about not receiving the video download of the monkey drinking his own pee?

All the socialising is beginning to affect my work, so I'm afraid it will have to stop, but I'm not sure how to go about breaking it off. Normally you end a correspondence by not replying, but my silence only seems to encourage them. Meanwhile everyone is expecting me for drinks at Sue's house next Tuesday with Brent and Heidi. None of us have seen Heidi since she and Brent got back together, unless, of course, I am Heidi.

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