Above: Google Images results for “Liz Miller”.
I’ve had the email address firstname.lastname@example.org since 2004, and I have been receiving emails for other women named Liz Miller ever since — approximately 10 a week, I’d average. I’m rarely sure how it happens, how mailing lists and travel itineraries and total strangers end up in my inbox, except that the root cause isn’t technological but “human error.” Which is to say, most people are not too good at this internet thing.
Sometimes these emails are charming, offering me an unexpected peek into someone else’s life. Messages about Wisconsin-style bachelorette parties:
Plane tickets to Vietnam:
That sort of thing.
However, for the last several months, my nemesis in life has been the Liz Miller who is getting married in New Jersey sometime in the next year. This Liz Miller is THE WORST. Normally I don’t take emails for the wrong Liz Miller all that personally; normally, I just have a quiet private laugh at the sender or the intended receiver’s failure. The one exception to that rule: If you sign me up for a hundred bridal mailing lists the week after I get dumped by my boyfriend of two years (also THE WORST).
I was already miserable, and getting hourly reminders that somewhere in the Garden State, some dumb bitch who doesn’t know her own email address is planning the happiest day of her life turned out to be my misery’s special sauce. What does she have that I don’t? Are men more attracted to girls who fuck up their @s? Is that what I’ve been doing wrong all this time? And seriously, how does EVERY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER AND DRESS DESIGNER ON THE EAST COAST know how to find me?
Of all those questions, the last one seemed the easiest to answer. Thus, I began to do what I’d never before bothered to do with Wrong Liz Miller emails — try and track down exactly why I was getting spammed.
My replies began politely — to a small catering company offering me “packages that range from $60- $94 per person plus 7% tax and 18% service charge” (OH MY GOD weddings cost so much), I sent:
Nice, but lacking precise details about how my email address had gotten out there. My frustration escalated later that day, when another caterer offered me the opportunity to have my wedding at one of their many castle-like venues.
I didn’t get a reply. So, I changed up my tactics for the florist offering me a free toss bouquet and aisle runner, figuring the personal touch might work:
I didn’t get a response, but it felt good to send it. I sign the vast majority of my emails with a cheerful “Thanks!,” I don’t hang up on telemarketers, I apologize to homeless people for not having any change. I try to be a pleasant person to strangers and friends alike. But it was not a pleasant time in my life, and taking it out on these bridal bitches was surprisingly soothing.
So that last response became my default reply to any wedding service foolish enough to offer me the Versailles ballroom or The Cake of Your Dreams. I continued to send it for weeks, even after the break-up was at least a month in my past — it still FELT like two weeks since I’d been dumped, was how I rationalized it.
Finally, one nice lady not only replied to the two-weeks email, but actually offered up some real information about how my email address had gotten into the hands of the bridal industry. Thank you again, Megan at Exquisite Bride in Millburn, New Jersey. I don’t really know what your company does, but I can only guess you do it better than any other bridal company in Millburn.
Megan tipped me off to New Jersey Bride, a bridal magazine that doubles as a sort of state-specific version of The Knot – revealing that my lovely simple Gmail address was the victim of that most terrifying of ticky-boxes: “Yes, send me special offers from select advertisers.”
Every email address on New Jersey Bride’s editorial masthead immediately received the following:
And to their credit, I got an immediate reply:
While it was nice to successfully solve the mystery and get some closure, my friend at New Jersey Bride was accurate about the fact that I wouldn’t stop receiving emails from vendors, even months later. This all began in May, but just yesterday, I found out that I was one of the lucky “VIP Brides” to receive four free tickets to “The Bridal Show Tour of the Year.” The day before that, I got invited to another bridal show tour (I guess it’s bridal show tour season):
I’ve spent months obsessing over the future Mrs. Liz Miller-Whatever and the obvious gulf between her wedding and my romantic failures, but it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that a friend asked if I’d tried to find out who she actually is; it took us two minutes on The Knot to narrow potential candidates down to just one.
A Liz Miller living in New Jersey will be marrying a man named Ramon on April 27, 2012. But because she is as bad at using The Knot as she is at entering her email address correctly, that is all I know about her and her future husband.
Oh, except this: They are registered at Bed Bath and Beyond and Crate and Barrel, mostly for serving bowls and grilling equipment. Mr. and Mrs. Liz Miller appear to be avid barbecuers. Or, at least, they aspire to such a thing.