Barefoot and Waiting at SoleMates.com

I love Internet shopping. Gap and Anthropologie are favored sites because I’ve actually been to these stores and I know how the sizes run. Instead of wading through the crowds and waiting on a long line to acquire, say, a pair of size 2 khakis, I just sit alone in front of my computer screen. Aim, click, buy. Quick and easy. It’s pure joy-most of the time.

I made my first foray into the world of electronic commerce earlier this year. A test drive, if you will. It’s a wonder I didn’t abandon the idea altogether. But the course of true love never did run smooth.

This is the actual e-mail correspondence-just cleaned up for typos-that took place as I attempted to purchase a pair of $19 Reef Brazil flip-flops from a company called Bigdeal.com.

Subject: Black sandals are history. Date: 1/19/99, 4:04 P.M. Ms. Kennedy, I called Reef about your inquiry and they definitely do not have the black. You should receive the gold pair in about a week. Thanks for ordering with Big Deal. Joe

Subject: My order. Date: 1/29/99, 10:05 P.M. Joe, About ten days ago I ordered a pair of gold gardenia thongs [the discontinued style] in size 9. Where are they? If you recall, I called to check on an order that I placed 5 WEEKS AGO. It was originally for two pairs but one of your colleagues lost the order and, by the time I called, there was no more black (unimaginable!). You all seem so nice. Why are you guys slacking? Erica

Subject: More info. Date: 2/1/99, 2:08 P.M. Please tell me your last name again so I can look into this some more. Reef shows that they are still in stock. I don’t know what the problem is. I’m really sorry. Thanks, Joe

Subject: Missing info. Date: 2/2/99, 9:07 P.M. Joe, My last name is Kennedy and that’s the gold gardenias in size 9 that you’re looking for. Thanks, Erica

Subject: Still waiting … Date: 2/7/99, 8:13 P.M. Hey Joe! Remember me? She of the lost flip-flops. Well, I haven’t received them yet. This is what you need to do-call your Reef buddy right now and tell him that I said he’s an asshole. And he should go find my gardenias (size 9 in gold) immediately and Federal Express them to me. There are other things on the Web site that I would like to purchase. But what’s the point of ordering if I’ll never get them? Thanks, Joe. You’re the best. Erica

Subject: A what? Date: 2/8/99, 9:12 A.M. Dear Erica, He’s a girl, so now what should I call her? I am working on it, I swear. You hate me now-I can tell. I’m crushed. I have an idea. I’ll send you a pair of size 9 women’s sandals today for free to hold you off until the other ones come in. Deal? I know it’s flip-flop weather out there now. Faithfully, Joe

Subject: Stylin’? Date: 2/8/99, 7:43 P.M. Well, ain’t you cute! He, she-it doesn’t matter. They’re still an asshole. And what makes you think you know my style? Don’t send me anything ugly. I would like a pair of the black (leather, that is) thongs in 9. But what I want-what I really, really want-are my gold gardenias. And you do remember that I live in New York or did you lose my address, too? Was that comment about the weather meant to be sarcastic? I’m going somewhere warm very soon. If you must know. Anyway, what’s the bitch’s name? You want me to call her? With much appreciation, E

Subject: Don’t look a gift horse … Date: 2/9/99, 4:46 P.M. E-I was kidding about the weather. I shipped out some ugly-ass sandals but they’re free, so who cares. Where are you going? I must know. Wondering, Joe

Subject: Focus, Joe. Date: 2/9/99, 9:20 P.M. You must know? I’m not telling YOU. What do you think you are-part of my inner circle? Well, O.K., I have no real plans but I was hoping some big, strong fella would come along, sweep me off my feet and take me to some tropical paradise. Actually, I am going to Jamaica at the end of December for a millennium bash. Hmm … that’s about 9 months from now-do you think I’ll have my shoes by then? And, Joe, I find it curious that, in your last missive, you did not even mention the status of my initial order. Finding my shoes should be your ONLY DAILY CONCERN! I like you, Joe. Don’t make me call your superior. Still hopeful, E

Subject: God forbid. Date: 2/10/99, 6:00 P.M. [Joe’s screen name is followed by “Mike Johnson”] E-Please don’t call my superior-he’s evil and beats us if we get complaints. I won’t sleep a wink until this whole big mess is finally resolved. Fit to be tied, Joe

Subject: Who? Date: 2/10/99, 9:42 P.M. Hey Joe, Is your name really Mike? Is that to throw off unwitting and disgruntled customers like myself? So when I call your evil manager (as well he should beat you) to complain he will say, “Joe who?” Well, you’ve been unmasked. I never did get the ugly-ass sandals that you supposedly sent. I know, I know-the check’s in the mail. Uh-huh. Best, E

Subject: The real me. Date: 2/11/99, 10:04 A.M. Yes, Erica, you found me out. But, by all means, call me Mike if you like that better. (Actually, I was logged onto Mike’s computer yesterday.) I shipped out the horrid footwear a few days ago. Are you really that bummed about the delay? I mean, I know it sucks, but I have this feeling that you are fuming about this. Have you considered Prozac? Concerned, Joe a.k.a. Mike

Subject: What were you thinking? Date: 2/11/99, 9:45 P.M. I received the freebies today. First of all, you sent me an 8. I WEAR A SIZE 9. Think, Joe! Secondly, they’re ugly as sin. A platform heel with blue and white stripes? Only a Spice Girl or a pre-teen would wear such nonsense. I am neither. And I noticed on your Web site that the name of the shoe is Drama Queen. Coincidence? I think not. I am indeed very upset about the “delay.” I am a New Yorker, Joe. We are an impatient breed. It’s not about wearing them-it’s a matter of principle now. I cannot rest until they are in my possession. Not amused, Ms. Kennedy

Subject: Actually … Date: 2/12/99, 9:01 A.M. E-I have been thinking … about you. Are you coming out to Arizona any time soon? Maybe we could, well, I don’t know, meet? Anxiously awaiting your reply, J

Subject: Are you kidding? Date: 2/12/99, 10:14 P.M. Joe-I do not have plans to go West any time soon. If that should change, I will let you know. Meeting is a possibility. You have no idea what I look like but I should be easy to spot. I’ll be barefoot. Regretfully, E

Subject: Confession. Date: 2/13/99, 5:12 P.M. Erica my dear, I cannot tell a lie (anymore). I’ve had your gold thongs for some time. I was sure that you would abandon me once the case of the missing flip-flops was solved. I Federal Expressed them to you yesterday. Can you ever forgive me? XOXO, Joe

Subject: How could you? 2/14/99, 10:05 A.M. Roses are red, Violets are blue. My shoes finally arrived, Lucky for you! And, BTW, do not try to contact me ever again. I’m married.)

Note: The author, who is single, was shocked to learn that Joe is the owner of Bigdeal.com. He is currently in negotiations to expand his empire by merging with a really big-deal Internet clothing catalogue.