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Wham, Bam, Thank You, Spam

Published in the Santa Clara Weekly

Cobwebs outside the door of progress were shredded the day my mother made the leap from the punch card technology of 1965’s IBM 1130 to one of today’s personal computers. Although not wanting to dissuade her forward momentum, I felt it was my duty as her son (until the blood tests prove otherwise…which will hopefully happen a few weeks from now) to warn her that, for all of the educational wonders, for all of the God-like knowledge at one’s fingertips, for the many things that make having a computer worthwhile, there are some elements that make it equally menacing and annoying: The viruses, the identity theft phishing, the forum trolls, the pop-ups and the Spam.

It wasn’t until I received my first computer that I realized how unknowingly popular I truly was and how, until that moment, completely in the dark of that fact I had been for…well, who knew how long? Weeks? Months? Years? Regardless of however long the rumors of my vintage good looks, razor sharp wit and romantic prowess must have been passing via red-lipped whispers of my hometown (and, before you ask, yes, women’s lips) to enchanted ears of some third-world country, it was only a matter of days after getting my first email address that I began to discover that there had existed, in the vastness of the Internet, a powerful need to communicate with me.

A Russian woman named Tatyana introduced herself to me in an email whose subject header was a simple, but sweet ‘Hi’ and went as follows:

“I am in much desire for romance. Russian womans are known for the love is passionate. Your nice and I hope we can talk more. I enjoyed your picture and wanted to kiss. About me. I am Tatyana, I am 21 and with one son. We hope to make friend of you in America, so we can visit. My son wants to see the Disneylands. I want to love you only.”

Somehow or another, a picture of me had been posted on-line and Tatyana had found it. Which picture and from where it was retrieved was never made clear, but this Russian hottie was looking to get with me and who was I to deprive her? I began to type a suave (but not desperate) and flirtatious (but not vulgar) response when I received another email. A follow up from Tatyana, I wondered? Nope. This one was ‘Big Stud You Are’ from a Latina by the name of Yasmin. She wrote (I’ve chosen to omit some of Yasmin’s less colorful words):

“Your picture made me want to <omit> and <omit> my <omit> with a water powdered <omit>! Baby, I am so lonely and waiting for <omit>. If you can <omit> <omit> <omit>

with this hot <omit> latina, then click on the link to my profile. I guarantee you will <omit>.”

I was stunned. Two women were trying to seduce me from halfway around the world. Both had attached photos and both were very attractive. Why they weren’t chasing after men within their own time zone was beyond me. Looking at both of them (Tatyana with her push-up bra and eyeglasses and Yasmin with her look of either alluring seduction or distress at choking on an ice cube), I wondered why they had chosen me. Why was I suddenly so appealing? I certainly never had been before. Then, it hit me, the realization of what was really going on: These two very attractive women had obviously had a history of bad relationships and were now seeking the company of a nice guy. Well, gosh, I was touched.

I wrote them both back the same email (I found it hard to be clever in two consecutive emails, so I simply changed their names accordingly) and, within minutes, had heard back, not from either of them, but from what appeared to be several friends of theirs. So went my first week in the world of emails, juggling more women than I could ever dreamed of. Sure, none of them could format a sentence correctly or differentiate between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, but dammit if they weren’t all incredibly attractive.

Assuming I had earned bragging rights, I began to forward a few of these correspondences to my friend. He wrote back the following:

“Yeah, some of those are pretty funny. I don’t know how they find your email addresses, but they do. Funny thing is, this guy at work, Dan, actually thought they were real. He thought these girls were actually writing to him. What an idiot, eh?”

I let the words sink in before writing back:

“That Dan guy sounds like a moron. Ha ha!”

Still, I couldn’t look down on Dan without looking down on myself. And if I did that, I’d have to look down on all the other romance seekers in the world who had been duped into thinking they were worthy of scantily clad foreigners who were, like ourselves, perhaps feeling unloved, ignored and underappreciated by the opposite sex.

I deleted the emails I’d received from Yasmin, Bobbi, Svetlana, Kurin, Latke, Emma, Lilija, Emiliana and Jovita. I couldn’t get myself to delete Tatyana’s, though. Those emails I saved. First, as a reminder to myself about the dangers of the Internet; second, I used her picture as my desktop because, despite all we actually had not been through, she was still hot and, after all, she was my first Internet girlfriend. Those are the kinds of memories you can’t just download.

Like most things in life, this experience taught me a few lessons. I learned that not everything on the Internet is as it may seem. But, if I learned nothing else, it was that somewhere out there in the World Wide Web is a really great picture of me that drives girls crazy!

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