I am reading Lena Dunham's fascinating new book Not That Kind of Girl and came across a chapter entitled "Emails I Would Send if I was One Ounce Crazier / Angrier / Braver."
Its hilarity made me instantly recall a strange email exchange I had with a party planner last year. Here's a bit of background: My name is Prasanna Ranganathan. I am a single man and have no children. I am indeed of East Indian heritage (and proud of it), but I was also born and raised in Canada. One year prior to this email exchange, I had contacted this particular party planner, whose name I have changed to "Barbara" for the sake of preserving her anonymity, to ask about renting a chiffon backdrop for my cousin's wedding. Her prices were over my budget and I informed her right away that I was going in a different direction.
One year later, out of the blue, I received a frantic email from Barbara asking that I return four vases. After her confusing emails that were clearly not meant for me but had a somewhat racist "all East Indian people are the same" undertone, I drafted an email to send to her, but I never had the guts to actually send it.
Instead, I sent it to my friends for their amusement and inspired by the brilliant Lena Dunham, I now share my drafted-yet-never-sent response with you, including some of Barbara's previous messages.
Hello Ms. Prasanna,
This is Barbara*, the lady from who you rented items for your's daughter's party.
A friend of your husband rented some items from me last week.
He returned the items except for the four vases!!
I need them for tomorrow!!!
Please, call me!!!
My Response to Barbara's Initial Email:
I am assuming this is spam or was sent to me in error. I have no idea who this is.
Barbara's Response to My Response:
Thank you for having taken the time to reply!
This was not a spam; I was trying to get a hold of an East Indian person.
You probably inquired some time ago about my rental/decorating business; that's how I have your email address. Sorry about that! Enjoy this beautiful snowy day!!!
The Email I Would Have Sent If I was "One Ounce Crazier/Angrier/Braver":
There is a snowstorm brewing outside and I do not want to work, so I have drafted the following observations in response to your email. I certainly do not believe any of these observations to be true, but keeping with the persistent, perplexing undertones of your messages, a response of this nature seemed fitting:
1) Barbara, you thought I was a woman. That happens to me on a daily basis on the phone, via email and sometimes disturbingly in person. But awwwwwwwwww, you thought I was married and had a daughter. Yay me!
2) Don't worry Barbara. I realize it wasn't spam. You were simply trying to get a hold of an "East Indian person." Thank goodness you clarified.
3) Knowing that I am an "East Indian person" do you honestly think I would have rented items for my daughter's party? Do you not know that as an "East Indian person" I don't rent items? I have an excessive amount of Corelle plates / stainless steel dinnerware for all my party needs which were purchased for me by my grandmother before my birth. They mysteriously have my mother's initials engraved on all of them. I'm good. Plus, my daughter will wash the dishes after her party, because as any good "East Indian person" knows, these skills are important if she is to be married.
4) Speaking of which, don't you know that as an "East Indian person" I don't throw parties for my daughter unless it is my daughter's wedding where she is getting married to a boy that our family has chosen for her years before? If this is the case, we will spare no expense in purchasing gold and diamond jewellery that is irrationally yellow and impractical, but that will go well with a wide range of outfits, both Indian and western. "That diamond choker would look great with jeans" the guests will exclaim when they see my fake daughter in her wedding finery.
5) Now if it was a party for my fake son, no expense would have been spared. "Rent me everything you got for Mohan's 3rd birthday," I would scream to you on the phone or in an email written entirely in CAPS LOCK! My son deserves the WORLD. "You know, Barbara, his teachers tell me that he is VERY advanced for his age."
6) Why would the friend of my husband rent vases? Being a stereotypically good "East Indian person" don't you know that I would have saved vases from every single flower arrangement I ever received and every single wedding I attended (where I walked away with a centrepiece whether or not I was invited to do so)? My kitchen is like a Dollar Store fire sale for vases. Seriously Barbara, get it together.
7) Maybe you thought I could activate my "East Indian person" bat signal - hello "Aunty telephone tree" to get the word out about the ruffian / thug friend of my erstwhile husband who stole the vases! There. Will. Be. Blood. "Seriously Swapna, we thought he was a good person."
8) In hindsight, I may have inquired about your rental business last year when planning my cousin's wedding, but your prices for chiffon were exorbitant, so I bussed to the suburbs, bought the fabric on sale, cut the fabric, and made the backdrop myself. You see it was too late to ask the family from India to ask the guy in the small village to supply the fabric or to find 17 sarees in the same color. Believe me, Barbara, I tried.
9) I will not enjoy the beautiful snowy day, Barbara! I am an "East Indian person" and we don't do winter. Like ever.
10) I note that you used 12 exclamation points in your initial email. As an "East Indian person" I appreciate your penchant for hyperbole and theatrics, but WHY are you screaming at me Barbara? Why?????????
I wish you all the best in your efforts to find your vases. Let me know if you want to borrow any of my vases. I have quite a good collection after the 8 weddings I attended last summer.