E-mailer at the Bat

I’m a sucker for a slugger in a baseball hat. So I got caught looking at Alex, the hottie at my weekly Sunday softball game. He works for a nonprofit, volunteers at a local hospital and drinks at St. Nicks. And he has the greatest laugh.

Wise to the rules of both softball and dating, Alex threw out the first pitch. Last Monday morning, I arrived at work, booted up my Dell and heard those three little words every girl dreams about: “You’ve got mail.” Just seeing his name in my inbox made me smile. Cheeks a flush, heart a thumpin’, I opened his message.

“Hey Carin, saw you had some trouble at the plate yesterday. Wanna hit the batting cages? I’ll help you find your sweet spot. Alex”

His note is flirty and funny and screams “Let’s play ball.” I shoot off a teasing reply, and he writes right back. This back and forth, give and take, take me I’m yours, goes on for endless innings. I’m throwing heat, but he’s hitting deep. Right into the gap. The more he writes, the more I realize how charming and cheery and clever he is. By closing time, he’s batting 1.000 in the kibitz column. If Alex is this good at e-mail, I can only imagine how good he is at dinner. And dessert.

In modern relationships, cyberflirting is key. Forget diamonds. Forget pearls. E-mail is a girl’s best friend. You can edit, erase, write and rewrite your notes until you sound as casual as the dress code at the Snake Pit. And with e-mail there’s less risk. No money down, zero-percent financing. You can get to know someone from a safe distance and at a slow speed. It’s ideal for that comfortable, commitment-free courtship. Especially with a free agent like Alex, who’s hesitant to sign on with one team. He might call once a week — twice if you count a drunk dial. But he’ll e-mail everyday.

In fact, he’s in constant contact. And we’re not just talking reheated rabbi jokes and fun religious forwards. He’s always checking in, just saying “hi” and seein’ what’s up. And those feisty one-liners. Wow. He keeps my inbox happy and knows just how to hit the send button. With all this e-mail exchange, I assume my Boys-Batted-In stat is on the rise.

But just when it seems Alex and I will be typing happily ever after, he pulls the mouse pad out from under me.

Wednesday morning, I sent Alex a g’mornin’ shout out. Two days, five hours and three Cuervo shots later, I still hadn’t heard back. No reply. Nothing, nada, gornischt. I check my inbox obsessively. Again and again and again. But like Olympic Stadium during an Expos game, it’s completely empty.

How did this happen? I remember single life in the good old days. Guys always refused my offer to go Dutch, and the dilemma du jour was “Why hasn’t he called?” Now that I finally learned that a watched phone never rings, I’m thrown another “Men Are From Mars” curveball.

E-mail. The choice of a new generation.

Maybe my note didn’t go through. Maybe he hasn’t checked his e-mail. Maybe he checked his e-mail, but didn’t write back. Maybe he’ll never write back. Maybe he doesn’t like me. Maybe no one will ever like me. Maybe I’ll end up single, alone and spend the rest of my days in the alter-kacker anonymous chat rooms.

Or maybe I should just chill.

Enough with this mishigoss. The problem isn’t that Alex hasn’t responded. It’s that I don’t know how to respond to him not responding.

We girls tend to overreact, creating tsuris where there isn’t any. Especially when our flirting average dips below the Mendoza line. Well ladies, there’s no crying in baseball. We’ve got to learn to deal, get our game faces on. An unreturned call or unanswered e-mail doesn’t have to mean the end, roll credits, fade to black. Most likely, the guy is busy with work, seeking some space or looking for a challenge. Men start writing when we stop waiting. Men start chasing when we start running. So this single slugger started sprinting.

I’ve stayed clear of my compose button. I focused on friends, fun and a few other good men. And when I came back from this morning’s staff meeting, there was an e-mail from Alex.

“Sorry I’ve been MIA. Had a big proposal due, but am finally caught up. Cages this weekend?”

Now that Alex is back in the lineup, it’s time to bring in my closer and nail down that date. I’ll be getting to first base in no time.