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True Stories: The Spammer I Loved
My short, sweet, and strange relationship with the woman who tried to sell me questionable Viagra.
by Alec Banks
There I was, sitting in front of my trusty laptop, trying my hardest not to complete the task at hand, a particularly research-intensive piece for a men's portal. I'd already readjusted my iTunes playlist several times, after which I'd checked the weather to see if an overcoat would ever be necessary in L.A. Finally, I was ready to write something, anything, when I reasoned with myself, "Check your email, find that you're not as popular as you'd like to think, and then it's down to business."
Sure enough, there was no exhilaratingly bolded section in my Gmail inbox, so I had no excuse not to crack the whip on myself. As I let the tiny cursor trace precise horizontal lines across opened correspondences about deadlines, missing payments, and green chat bubbles indicating to me that there was life somewhere out there, I found my cursor resting on my spam inbox.
I've always been fascinated with spam for the simple fact that someone has to create it. Even if it's a computer actually sending it out, alerting the world to "thick erections that could frame a house," it ultimately has to originate from a human being. There's something intriguing — but also sad — about that prospect. Somewhere out there was the Hemingway of spam, and thanks to the filters our email affords us, their work goes unopened. Papa's aphorism, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated," seemed apropos.
I started poking around, sifting through promises of length and extension from unknown persons just waiting to share their secrets with me. I tore through page after page of correspondences, each sent either from a sham company, or from a woman with a mysterious name like Apolonia Angla, Valencia Mandie, or Zetta Miriam.
I was officially consumed. I wouldn't be finishing any paid assignment that day. But what I would do was reply back to a smattering of emails:
Thanks for emailing me about the Viagra. When can you send it to me and more importantly, when can I try it out on you? Can't wait to enter you with my bone saw.
I want you to be a Gmail user in the streets and a Hotmail user in the sheets. I can't wait to (hard as a) rock your world.
Yes. I. Want. To. Add. Girth. Send it my way.
Then I waited. Like clockwork, I'd send an email to each of these ladies every day. Each response was slightly different, because I knew I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror as a writer if I spent my days "spamming" the spammers. And then... I got a response back. As it turned out, "Lily" was really a Rhonda.
Thanks for all the funny emails for the last few weeks. It's made my day!
Success! I'd managed to get a response back. (And it also featured a rare appropriate use of an exclamation point.) But why had she responded? The thought of someone monitoring these exchanges seemed rather absurd, a waste of valuable keystrokes that could've more profitably been spent writing more spam. I reasoned that perhaps Rhonda's job was at a mom-and-pop spam operation. It seemed at least as logical as the fact that I'd been answering spam emails for weeks.
The lines of communication were officially open, but I was unsure of what I really wanted out of this. If the exercise was just to get a response, then my job was done. But I wanted more. I wanted some emotional girth.
I lay awake wondering what was the proper thing to say to a woman who made her living pitching artificial boners, like a Menthol-smoking waitress delivering corned-beef hash. Comedy seemed like the obvious play, but I'd already used that to get her attention. But I didn't want to scare her away, so I decided to stick to humor.
So, how many times do you use the word "rod" in a given work day?
Haha. Slightly more than an electrician and slightly less than a mechanic.
Has anyone ever written back to one of these emails before, or am I the first weirdo to do so?
You're the only weirdo. My weirdo.
A friend wanted to know, do they really work at, you know, making it bigger?
You can tell your friend that the pill bottle is the only thing of good use, because he can collect his small-penis-having tears in it.
It went on like this for a few weeks. Every couple of days I'd fire off a quick email to her, and she'd reply back the next morning. It was always like this, with me doing the chasing and her coyly responding back. We never talked about our lives outside of this peculiar situation. We both saw the humor. But I wanted more. I wanted to see what she looked like.
I fought with this desire for a couple days. I didn't want to date this woman, so why should it matter what she looked like? A friend of mine reasoned that I had only grazed the spam surface by getting a name and a personality behind the machine, and that I needed to put a face to the situation. Convinced, I decided to ask Rhonda for a picture of herself under the guise of a little humor.
Here we are. Two crazy kids in a mad, mad world. Show me yours and I'll show you mine.
Show you what?
Whatever feels right.
And then there was nothing. It was clearly her turn, but day after day, my spam inbox remained peppered with other correspondences that I knew weren't from Rhonda. Had she thought that I actually wanted her to send naked photos? What had happened?
I'd been shot down, that's what. No regular pictures, and certainly no naked pictures would come dancing through my inbox, nipples appearing like umlauts in the body of the email. I'd gone too far, which I'd been known to do not only in my professional life, but also with matters of the heart. I decided that I needed to apologize to Rhonda, wherever she was in the world. (My money had always been on Kuala Lumpur, but she could have been sending out her manifestos from the comfort of a studio apartment in Oakland for all I knew.)
I want to offer my sincerest apology for my boorish behavior. I think being bombarded with emails about "thickness" made me forget that a woman should be treated delicately. I understand if you never want to hear from me again, but hopefully that won't be the case. It was all in good fun.
I would never hear back from Rhonda. That was probably best, because our little internet tryst had completely consumed me. Wouldn't you know — I was the first person ever to give a spam emailer something that they didn't want.
Some months later, I couldn't help combing through my spam inbox. After sifting through several, one particular caught my eye.
"Do u Want too be able to poke your throbbing meatrope st8 thu your partners vachina?"
It could only have been Rhonda.
Follow Alec Banks on Twitter at @smart_alec_.