Today I had a revelation. You could say it is cosmic in nature.
A cold, grey, foggy, wet (in other words, vintage British) morning. I sat squinting at the coffee foam, contemplating on the absurdity of life (I’ve been doing this for decades – keeps me grounded); when the revelation flashed in my mind. What is the only constant thing in our lives? I questioned as I slurped. Love? Bwahahahaha. Friendship? No, there only twittership and facebookship. That’s when the answer tumbled. Caved in, I must say, and filled the cavity of my brain. SPAM. Yeah – that’s the constant in our life. Faithful, relentless, ever-present, omnipresent.
Every morning, after the squint-at-coffee-foam-and-contemplate routine, I snap into life. Like hundreds of millions of earthlings, I log on. The hand trembles, the breath heaves, the heart flutters as I click on the inbox. I fully expect to see tonnes of emails from potential agents and publishers; all clamouring to sign me on with obscene signing amounts. (We creative lot often suffer from psychological disorders related to grandiose self-disillusionment). So of course, it is a bit of a damper to see emails asking if I want to watch a busty lady do some routine in front of her webcam, or from some Nigerian bloke informing me of some mysterious inheritance. Thank God for spam folders.
Actually, I’ve never paid much attention to spam, until recently. One fine morning, my sent folder indicated 80 emails had been sent out the previous night. Whoa. I had sent out only one email the previous night -to The Husband, asking him to buy onions on the way back from office. I clicked on the sent folder with trepidation. My worst fears came true. ‘I’ had ‘sold’ a certain pill that targets a specific, unmentionable area of male anatomy, thereby making the man’s...errr...romantic life robust and vigorous. My heart sank. Most of my friends would know this is spam – but then, the email had gone out to some senior citizens too. None of them in Hugh Hefner mould. I immediately sent out apologies and set about researching ‘dealing with spam’. Apparently it’s like cancer. No cure. I went ahead and added an extra character in every email id in my address book. At least now any spam will bounce back. Yes, it means I have to edit the address each time I send an email – but it’s worth the effort-I wouldn’t want naive people to think I’ve launched a racy business after quitting the corporate world.
From that day, I’ve had a strange fascination towards spam. So much so, I check the spam folder before I check the inbox. If I lived life according to the SPAM guys – man it would be joie de vivre all the way to the pyre. First of all, I would get umpteen credit cards from unknown banks (Orchard bank seems to love me). I could buy replica Rolex watches. I could get coupons for eating red lobsters in some posh restaurant. I could buy certain pills at 85% discount prices. I could be showered with IPads, Iphones, Macs, Dells. I could sharpen my nose, stretch the cheeks, tighten things here, loosen things there..hell, I can even permanently tint my eyebrows and eye lashes if I wanted a new look. I could meet, date, flirt and do many other things with hot singles of my area. Indeed, I could strike a friendship with those Nigerian gentlemen and inherit a cool half-a-mill. Then, I could ‘incorporate in Nevada’ to avoid taxes. And in case I went overboard with this hedonistic lifestyle, lawyers would be at my beck and call to write off my debt and give me a clean credit history.
In contrast, my inbox which actually reflects my REAL life, seemed dead. I get ‘word a day’ emails, and I get to learn a new word. I get Linkedin updates - so-and-so is now connected to such-and-such and I wouldn’t know either of them. Now and then, I get an email from my sister, in response to some rambling emails of mine; she waits till I send three or four such emails, and then gives one reply –‘Hi...okay...take care’. On occasions I get emails from some close friends – usually runs on the theme of ‘how are you – we are fine’ type.
How the tables have turned! There was a time when I used to think spammers are lonely geeks who sat hunched on a laptop, typing away rubbish. Yeah a load of spam emails are automated, but STILL – somebody is out there programming, right? The revelation, my dear friends, is that if there is anyone who is lonely, lifeless, boring...it is us – non-spammers. Remember the fun of making prank calls to strangers (in the pre-callerID, pre-mobile phone era)? I am sure the spammers have similar fun day after day. The spammers have opened my eyes. They have made me realize the vast chasm between ‘what life is’ and ‘what life could be’ states.
So when you get back to your machine – examine your inbox. Is it as exciting as your spam folder? If not it is time you did something about it. I, for one, have commenced on the SPAM journey. I’m curling my eye-lashes.
© Sumana Khan - 2011