I'm a Cruel, Heartless Guy With a Clean Inbox

The new year is nary a few days old and already I have ended numerous affairs.

I said goodbye to Vera. I told Victoria I was no longer interested. I even parted ways with Dick, and he had been my companion for nearly a year. My wife, I should point out, was aware of my dalliances. In fact, she encouraged most of them.

For me, the breakups came with an enormous sense of relief. Not so for my partners. Their final (for now) communications with me ranged from disappointment, to anger, to near refusal. After all, it was me who initiated the relationships. Now they were crumbling faster than Ben Carson's presidential aspirations.

And, yet, it had to be done. I simply had to unsubscribe from their email lists.

I begin every year this way. One morning I brew coffee, open my Yahoo account and methodically begin removing myself from mailing lists containing my name simply because I purchased online holiday gifts. Having my email address also allowed some retailers to casually inform me, on December 24, that my purchase was "on its way" and should arrive in "3 to 5 business days." Translation? Two weeks, since nobody conducts business around holidays save doctors, police officers and those who write weekly humor columns. But I digress.

My first breakup? Vera Bradley. Yes, my wife loved the travel bag I purchased for her on November 28, yet I have no desire to remain on the chain's mailing list so I can get first crack at the "healthy, hydrated and organized" new spring arrivals, a message I received on December 26. In between there were 30 other emails with subject lines ranging from "A merry surprise: 25 percent off" to "For the woman who has it all."

My wife doesn't have it all, but she does have a really nice bag.

Vera did not go quietly when I clicked "unsubscribe." Instead, she asked, "Is this really goodbye?" forcing me to confirm the breakup with another click. And like an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend who just can't take a hint, Ms. Bradley said, "We'll be here if you change your mind."

Victoria was next. Specifically Victoria's Secret, vendor of the silk pajamas I purchased for my wife on October 10 and author of 115 subsequent emails. On December 27, I located the teensy "unsubscribe" link, buried in fine print beneath an enormous announcement stating today was the last day I could purchase one bra and get an additional bra at 50 percent off.

Unlike Vera Bradley, Victoria did not plead with me to stay. I received a terse response stating my request was "being processed." I interpreted that to mean: "Don't call us if you're in sudden need of lace panties at rock bottom prices."

The breakup with Dick's Sporting Goods was more traumatic, as I am an exercise enthusiast and frequent its website. Still, I finally informed Dick that I was in fact, BOWL READY when it came to college apparel and therefore didn't need to receive any more correspondence, despite his generous, recurring offer to discount select merchandise at 60 percent. Dick asked me to choose from 10 reasons why I was ending the relationship. In the "other" box I typed, "Right now, I just need some space." It sounded better than, "I'd like to start seeing other sporting goods stores."

Finally, I tackled the granddaddy of all email subscriptions ... Groupon. The e-commerce marketplace somehow assumed I lived in Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., simultaneously, as I have been bombarded with emails touting deals in all three cities. In one whirlwind day, I could partake in a Brazilian wax in Lincoln Park in Chicago, feast on Indian cuisine near DuPont Circle in D.C. and share a ride to the San Francisco International Airport, all at steep discounts.

Instead, I unsubscribed. Then I watched a humorous video starring "Derrick," the Groupon employee the company suggested was responsible for the email blitzkrieg. Another employee approaches Derrick at his desk, dumps a beverage on him and then hurls the cup at Derrick's now horizontal body. Groupon said I could make Derrick feel better by re-subscribing.

Don't worry, Derrick, Vicky, Vera and Dick, I'm sure we'll meet again.

My wife's birthday will be here soon.