I arrived quite late to the digital party. My first significant non-work use of email was in the late nineties, when I used my work email address (no internet at home for me till 2001) for social, and increasingly sexual, purposes. There was a whole series of emails I always thought had the basis of a good epistolary novel; I was so convinced of this I actually printed them all off and kept them in a folder.
There were six characters involved:
1. Me, when I was working a new University in the academic registry and plotting leaving to become a full time teacher.
2. My boyfriend, Leon, who was one of only two men in long and chequered sexual history with whom I regret getting involved, and who definitely deserved his nickname amongst my friends of 'Leon the Loser'. I was his line manager. None of our colleagues knew we were seeing each other, though they knew he had left his wife and were somehow suspicious of the fact that his route to work took him past my house (where he was living at the time).
3. Leon's friend, Dean. Leon was so sure Dean was 'my perfect man' that he didn't introduce me to him for a long time and only did after Dean confided his deep dark secret to him.
4. Dean's ex, Anke, a gorgeous, pouting, utterly neurotic German girl doing a Phd (in Eng Lit). I alreday knew Dean's dark secret - the fact that he thought he might be gay - because he had confided in Anke and she had told all her girlfriends, because she made it all about his rejection of her evoking her difficult relationship with her father blah, blah, yawn, yawn.
5. Dean's flatmate Angus, a tiny, sarcastic blonde Scotsman so gloomy I nicknamed him Anguish. I had a positively violent crush on him at the time, but he was after Anke.
6. Angus's officemate, Matt (they were studying for a Phds in sociology) who was openly gay and had a secret crush on Dean (whom he initially thought was straight).
I unintentionally ended up at the centre of a web of email intrigue.
Matt confided in me. He told me he had a massive crush on Dean.
Angus confided in me. He thought Matt was in love with him. He also thought he was in with a chance with Anke, but that Dean, whom she had recently dumped, would be offended if he made a move on her.
Dean confided in me. He told me he really fancied Matt.
Leon had no confidence in me. He thought I was pursuing Dean. He also thought Dean was in love with him. We used to sit back to back at work arguing like buggery with each other over email. I'd send him out on spurious errands to other departments so I could email all the others with impunity.
Anke didn't like me and didn't confide in me, but I was in close enough email contact with two of her closest friends to send out cunning little ripples that totally put her off Angus.
So my intensive emailing over a two week period was all based on:
Getting Dean and Matt together.
Keeping Anke and Anguish apart.
Convincing Leon I was pursuing Dean so he couldn't tell I was pursuing Angus.
Seducing Angus with my keen and savage wit.
Doing just enough work so that no one in the registry noticed I was devoting about a third of my time to this and the other third to arguing with Leon.
It all worked out in the end. Dean and Matt went out for about two years, Angus and I got it on once and once only, I eventually split up with Leon the Loser by the simple expedient of getting him a job in another country. But putting some of the emails parallel to one another makes for very funny reading. If I had them stored digitally I'd put them up here.