…or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.

— Monty Python’s Spam skit, 1970

Before the there internet and phones, there were telegrams. And spam:

The first recorded instance of a mass unsolicited commercial telegram is from May 1864, when some British politicians received an unsolicited telegram advertising a dentistry shop.

— Wikipedia

Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, “Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk email?”

—- Hormel website

Instead of doing my daily purge, I didn’t touch my spam folder for a week to see what, and how much, it would pick up. Quantity, quite a haul, 713 items, over 100/day (reflecting my decade-old email address). Quality, not so much. Consider:

  • It’ll only take 4 weeks to simply melt away my 37 lbs of excess fat
  • Many (many!) ladies (teen, MILF, you name ’em) would love to meet me TONIGHT!—including someone virtually next door—Mountain View (Be still, my heart)
  • I am eligible for a home loan (despite the fact that we rent)
  • Bill Gates is eager, practically drooling over himself, to give me a very large sum of money
  • So is an attorney—make that, let’s see, three attorneys—representing people from faraway places with strange sounding names who have selected me (me!) for their largesse
  • A generous cash settlement to compensate me for my intravaginal surgical mesh difficulty is all but guaranteed
  • My local Jewish Singles group would love to hear from me (I think not)
  • A lady (?) named Kelly would love to help me (personally? discreetly?) with my erectile dysfunction/premature ejaculation and/or impotence problem she’s heard (from whom?) I suffer from
  • Clairvoyant Chris, Ron and others want to show me my future. (Begging the question, if they can see the future, wouldn’t they playing the ponies or buying stock options, rather than screwing around on the net?)

Not to mention deals on hearing aids (what?), tires, SUVs, windshield repair, credit cards galore, roof repair, truck rental…

So pretty much everything a dude needs is right there in my spam folder, except the One Thing this guy really needs, which is Freedom from Spam. (“Buy this and you’ll never hear from any of us again” actually sounds pretty tempting.)

The problem with spam and a spam folder—and Yahoo, for all its many failings, does a really fine job of filtering out the BS—is that every so often (happens about once every couple of weeks) something important from someone who definitely isn’t a spammer lands in there. So yes, I do check the folder diligently, kindasorta, for anything or anyone I might recognize.


The first major commercial spam incident started on March 5, 1994, when a husband and wife team of lawyers, Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, began using bulk Usenet posting to advertise immigration law services. The incident was commonly termed the “Green Card spam”…the attorneys claimed their detractors were hypocrites or “zealouts” [sic], claimed they had a free speech right to send unwanted commercial messages, and labeled their opponents “anti-commerce radicals.”

— Wikipedia

For the record, Hormel introduced Spam in 1937 (= SPpiced hAM or Shoulders of Pork And Ham). The Monty Python skit gave rise to its current meaning: because it was so easy to obtain in wartime Britain, our lot were sick of the ubiquitous stuff by war’s end. That’s my story, but not Maggie Thatcher’s, who referred to Spam as “a wartime delicacy.”


Meanwhile, sorry gang, short of continually changing email addresses, I have no answers to the spam epidemic. Do you?


Barry Evans gave the best years of his life to civil engineering, and what thanks did he get? In his dotage, he travels, kayaks, meditates and writes for the Journal and the Humboldt Historian. He sucks at 8 Ball. Buy his Field Notes anthologies at any local bookstore. Please.