Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Pox on Chain Letters!

Okay. These pictures have nothing to do with the headline. I don't HAVE a picture of the pox, although that could be a worthy project ... No. These are pictures of Jean's chairs, which she'll pick up tonight, along with the table which is seriously flawed. I went outside to check on it this morning, and the clear-coat didn't set and apparently never will. It sat on the table in bluish-white streaks that I scraped off with a Dobie. It's very sad. Well, Jean's picking these things up around eight tonight. It'll be too dark to see! She'll never know! I'll just change my phone and move to another state and --

I owe some of you -- twenty of you -- an apology for sending you the chain letter. It was simple enough: Send a recipe to ONE person, whose email address is linked right there. How tough is that? Then all you had to do was delete that name and insert the name below it and add your own name and copy and paste the whole thing to another email window and mail it to twenty of your closest friends. Or enemies, depending.

It's true I haven't heard from all twenty (although I believe I can feel the hate), but I shouldn't have heard from any of them. They were supposed to send the recipe to someone else. One of my favorite recipes was from a man who basically said, "1. Get in your car. 2. Drive to a restaurant." I wish he'd sent it to the proper person.

Well, the chain had instructions for the naysayers amongst us ... er, amongst you. It said if you didn't want to participate, you should contact me (!) so that I could find some other buddy to misuse, and that's why I got so many responses. People didn't want to play.

My tasteful Southern friend Liz sweetly wrote, "I will not be participating, but thanks for asking."

Thanks for asking, my ass.

Eunice sent an entire post-graduate-level treatise on the thing. Here's part of it:

Why do people think chain letters could work? The reason people are even tempted by these schemes is that the human mind does not have an intuitive view of geometrical progressions. Suppose we presume the chain letter to have a list of five people. You are asked to send one postcard to the person on top of the list, and remail the letter to five friends. You are promised thousands of postcards from all over the world if everyone participates. Your cost: a postcard, five photocopies and envelopes, and six stamps. Not much to risk to see what comes back.

I disagree with the basic premise of this fellow. I don't think people are "tempted" by these "schemes." I think people are "attempting" to be "polite."

Really, it's a part of friendship, of courtesy. I don't want another recipe. I hardly cook. Even if I did, dear god! how many recipes can one have? With the interweb, I can find anything I want. I have, for instance, a recipe for Pine Nut Rosemary Scones in my Favorites right now. I don't want your goulash recipe. Really.

What I do want, though, is your continued friendship. So when a friend sends me a chain letter, I want to pass it on only to please my friend. I don't do it because of my innate inability to envision geometric progressions. I want Jeanne to think I'm a good friend (because I am). I have no doubt that she passed it on to me because someone she likes did it to her. Chain letters, then, are simply evidence of people who want to please each other.

Well, I say let's find a better way. Pray for me. Bring me flowers. Sing me love songs. Just don't send me chain letters.

When I first got email, I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of it all. I'd wade through all the forwards, looking at the cute kittens and the terrible jokes and the stale jokes (I saw that three weeks ago! where were you?) and the offensive jokes and the cute puppies. The War Between the Sexes has died down for me, now that my hormones have faded away, but it would stay stoked if I read all the forwards I used to get.

Used to get. When I moved to gmail, there were people I didn't even tell! Now if I find someone cluttering up my inbox with forwarded crap, I usually politely ask them to refrain. Man, I'm always up for personal news, but recycled jokes? Nope. I've got that covered.

I have a handful of friends (and you know who you are) who send me art- and animal-related things and I'm so grateful. The truth is, they do know who they are. I can count on them to only forward the kinds of things I like. That has developed over time and I'm happy for it.

Some of The Twenty (not to be confused with that boring movie, The 300) said they didn't want to play because they never get anything back. I've never received anything, either, but I've never actually wanted what was offered. I have the vague memory of getting a chain letter in the real mail that wanted me to send along a pair of panties. Is that possible? I know I didn't do it. How do I know the size of the recipient? I know I sent a pair of socks to someone, and some kitchen towels. I got nothing back, of course. Even so, I'll choose my own socks and my own towels. No. The motive for continuing the madness is friendship, not greed.

Here's an eThang that I find annoying (sorry, Joyce!). It's the one that's progressive. Today's was about birthdays -- appropriate enough for the front of a year. All the days of the year are listed, and you're supposed to put your name (NO LAST NAME, it screams, although: why not?) next to your birthday. Put your city, too. Then pass it on, and also send it to the one who sent it to you. Fine. Now, when all three hundred and sixtysomething days are filled, how will we ever know that?

And don't get me wrong. It's not the waste of time that bothers me. Heck, I write a blog. You, too, have amazing ways of wasting time. You do. I know you do. The thing is, I want to be in charge of how I waste it, and responding to idiotic forwards isn't one of them.

Like those FAVORITES emails. What's your favorite movie? book? color? Well, okay. I am my favorite topic, but still, they're only interesting if the question is interesting. I love, for instance -- really love -- to know what's under people's beds. That's a question worth asking. And answering. I also love the immediacy of questions like: What are you smelling right now? Hmm ... maybe What do you smell like right now? would also be an interesting question ...

The ChemDryGuy is coming tomorrow at noon, just about twenty-four hours from now. Everything that can be lifted off the floor had better be lifted off the floor. Sunny has been confined to the kitchen by a gate. She doesn't seem to mind. I sort of lost her yesterday. She was shivering, so I put a thick towel over her, even though I don't know if she was shivering in anticipation of leaving this vale of tears or if she was cold. I puttered around. Suddenly, I realized that Sunny wasn't in the kitchen anymore! Where could she be? The gate was still up, the door still closed! Ah. She had moved to the corner, but it just looked like a pile of towels on the floor ...

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