For a blog as tiny as this one, I sure have a dedicated following among spammers. Every day I spend time deleting spam that I might otherwise spend fretting about the meaning of life or staring vacantly into the middle distance.
My spammers, I am proud to say, come from all over the world, though mostly from Russia. Others write me in bizarre alphabets that I suspect of being Hindi, or possibly fake. The English speakers offer disinterestedly to help me improve my website, attract more readers (and even more spammers) and get rich while working from home. For a while I was persecuted by one who sent me page after page of links to porn sites, the mere names of which would make your hair stand on end. But fortunately he has vanished, perhaps having gone blind as a result of his overindulgence in the vice of Onan.
One of my favorites sends me long messages in Latin that I wish I could read but can’t, having escaped the ritual torture of high-school Latin via a more user friendly French class. And just the other day I got spammed in my native Catalan! Since there are only about nine million speakers of the language, I was thrilled that one of them had found me. But then we Catalans have always been an enterprising people.
I realize, of course, that my spammers are not real human beings. They are robots, or “bots,” which always makes me think of botulism, or of botflies, whose larvae burrow under the skin of warm-blooded animals and cause them much misery. Although spam bots are cold, faceless entities that prowl the web in search of vulnerable bloggers like me, I cannot help endowing them with human characteristics, and in my mind’s eye each has unique traits that distinguish it from the others.
For some reason, I imagine them all as male—including the indefatigable Jennifer, who assures me over and over that she is sending me her “intimate photos, as promised.” The guys who want to help me to improve my website I envision as earnest nerds with pimply faces and squeaky voices. The Russians I imagine in their fur hats, winter and summer, dour and scowling, while the Hindi speaker sits typing on a half-submerged log in the Sundarbans, as man-eating tigers roar softly in the background.
As for the guy who sends me endless paragraphs of Latin, at first I thought that he might be a retired Classics scholar, balding, pale, and anemic from a lifetime spent in airless library stacks. In the costume department of my brain, I had outfitted him in cliched academic attire, bow tie and seedy tweed jacket with elbow patches. But then I realized that there was no way he would have mastered spamming, since probably the most advanced technology he was familiar with was the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter. No, it had to be a younger person, albeit one with time on his hands. And suddenly he appeared in my mind’s eye: one of the last surviving Classics PhDs, a disconsolate dinosaur trying to cobble together a living as adjunct professor at the few extant Classics departments in North America.
Then there is my Catalan spammer, the great-grandchild of the peasants of my childhood, the men who plowed the fields with mules that they brought to my veterinarian grandfather when they were suffering from bots. In all seasons they wore black corduroy trousers, a dark blue shirt, a black sash around the waist, a black beret, espadrilles, and a cigarette. The closest they came to technology were the Roman plow and the bicycle that my grandfather rode on his rounds. But now their great-grandson, having left the fields and the mules and the Roman plow behind, sits spamming me in some airconditioned room in the village whose streets are all paved and that now has a beltway and a bar named, in English, The Monkey Bar.
As for Jennifer of the intimate photos, he was easy to figure out: wan and sweaty and four-hundred pounds, slouched on a sagging cot in some dank basement of the id.