The internet is an amazing thing. You could go so far as to say that it’s the best thing since sliced bread – which is a pretty big call given that the bread slicer was invented in 1928 by Otto Frederick Rohwedder. It’s also worth noting that the invention of sliced bread paved the way for other really useful inventions such as Charles Strite’s electric pop-up toaster. Ironically, the only reason I know any of this is because the internet told me so.
However, it’s not all beer, skittles and sliced bread on the internet. It’s also a place of considerable danger. For that reason, my computer has a plethora of software committed to combating computer viruses and spam (of both the email and spiced ham variety). Like a home owner cradling a shotgun in case of intruders, my computer sits in a state of eternal readiness to ward off any attempted break in.
And, just like that home owner, this software occasionally intercepts well-meaning people doing no more than going about their daily business; who are not asking me to purchase discount pharmaceuticals or invest in the Nigerian banking industry. When this occurs, attachments are removed and – presumably – led away for questioning.
On other occasions, the software intercepts suspect transmissions for a good de-lousing before dumping them in by ‘junk’ box. I received such an email last week. The subject line was, pointedly, ‘Not game, serious relations!’ Frankly, it made no sense. Intrigued, I peeked into the quarantine section of my computer. The email began: ‘Hello friend!!!’
Whilst the subject line had deployed an exclamation mark in an unusual manner, the opening greeting displayed a reckless disregard for conventional punctuation. It then continued:
This is not spam or other bad things. So, please, answer to me!!!
Another triple. Much like a half pike with a triple twist on the Olympic long board, it was a sentence that would best be described as suffering a high degree of difficulty. To put it mildly, there is something slightly terrifying about an email that demands with three exclamation points that you ‘answer to’ them. Whilst the email was going to some lengths to assure me that it wasn’t ‘spam’ (or for that matter, the unspecified ‘other bad things’), it was hard not to conclude that like the Queen in Hamlet, the lady doth protest too much, methinks. Then came the resume:
My name is Anna. I’m 28 years old.
I live far from Moscow, about 1200 km. I hope you know a town Cheboksary.
You can see it in Google if you want.
Presumably, if it’s good enough for Google, it ought to be good enough for me. According to the internet, Cheboksary is a city with a population of just under four hundred and fifty thousand. However, if Anna had her way, the town’s population would fall by one.
I want to search man from other country for serious relationship and may be love.
I’m not married and have no children.
I’m attractive and no-smoking girl.
There’s a simple rule in life – if you describe yourself as attractive, you’re probably gravely mistaken. Worse still, if the best you can say for yourself is that you won’t be sucking down the best part of a packet of Peter Jackson Super Mild in the foreseeable future, you’re not so much scraping the bottom of the barrel as you are tunneling through the other side. However, it was then that things took a turn for the ridiculous:
I’m really tired of my boring life and i want to meet new man in my life to change it.
How could this be possible when, according to its Wikipedia page, the town of Cheboksary is a cultural hotspot with its own opera theatre, orchestra and – I kid you not – ‘a number of heated pools’? Better than that, it also has Russia’s only beer museum. Whilst Melbourne has a lot to offer, it’s well accepted that it suffers a chronic shortage of beer museums. The claims to boredom are even more improbable when you consider that Cheboksary is the tractor capital of Russia being, as it is, the official headquarters of Concern Tractor Plants.
The email begged for a response and was signed ‘Anna from Russia’. The email address to which you were encouraged to respond bore no resemblance to this name; referring, instead, to someone called ‘Solishko’. There is, sadly, nothing to explain what or who a ‘solishko’ is. Not even on the internet. Whilst such a slur on the great city of Cheboksary should not ordinarily go unchallenged, there seemed little point. Not even to correct the numerous spelling and grammatical violations. Leaving aside the rather substantial fact of being committed to Kate, to respond to an email headed ‘serious relations!!!’ or, indeed, any email with a triple exclamation point is surely asking for trouble.
Perhaps it’s best if I switch my computer off. Just for a while. Maybe I’ll go find myself some decent sliced bread and make myself a great big spam sandwich. Anna from Russia might not be impressed, but Otto Frederick Rohwedder would be proud.