I’ve always disliked chain letters and e-mails. I shake my head at the weak-minded who fall victim to superstition and perpetuate such lame messages. Yet the rational part of me is sure that most people don’t actually worry: If I don’t send this e-mail to 10 of my friends, I might become impotent, dead, or plagued with bad luck!
Is the threat that strong? Could it be that people are just inclined to do as they’re told? Is it just sentimentality? Ability to recycle sub-par humor without being creative? Convenient, pre-fabricated camaraderie? I can hardly understand the satisfaction.
Generally, my co-workers know to avoid me on their mass-mail lists. In the past, when they chuckled and squealed at the fattest cat, lamest parable, or scariest monster in the most placid car commercial, I cringed and dreaded the “New Mail” popup. But those jerks have learned to expect no satisfaction from me; they know that when it comes to mass e-mails, I never laugh, squeal, or send anything to anyone — especially them.
Shit, even when it comes to work-related e-mails I usually mutter, “Thanks, I don’t fucking care.” Delete.
Don’t get me wrong; some of these e-mails are truly enjoyable — in a funny-bad-movie kind of way. (Keep in mind that there are plenty of unfunny bad movies.)
One message I received three days ago, for example, is the Gigli of chain e-mails. It appeared in my inbox after I overheard a conversation in the break room: “No more tearjerkers at 8 a.m., please.”
The tearjerker was about a little girl who had “Daddy’s Day” in school. But because Daddy wasn’t around, Little Girl took Mommy to class instead. When other parents realized that Pop was a no-show, they muttered, “Just another deadbeat dad.” But they knew so little.
The conclusion went like this:
“I love my daddy very much, he’s my shining star,
and if he could, he’d be here, but heaven’s just too far.
You see he was a policeman and died just this past year
when airplanes hit the towers and taught Americans to fear.” [...]
Who knows what they saw before them? Who knows what they felt inside?
Perhaps for merely a second, they saw him at her side.
“I know you’re with me Daddy,” to the silence she called out.
And what happened next made believers of those once filled with doubt.
Not one in that room could explain it, for each of their eyes had been closed.
But there on the desk beside her, was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose.
Daddy came down from heaven to remind everyone about 9/11! Awww, Daddy, that’s so conscientious. Stay the course, Daddy — even if it means teaching Little Girl that she can invoke your spirit whenever she’s in trouble!
“Daddy, my boyfriend wants me to have sex with him. What should I do?”
“Hi, sweetie! I’m just swinging by earth to remind you about 9/11. Here’s a rose.”
Seriously, folks, I’m risking 100 years’ bad luck by lampooning this poetry by an obvious descendent of John Ruskin. And if you don’t want 100 years’ bad luck, you will need to forward this essay, unedited, to 10 of your friends.
Did this really make anyone cry? I question peoples’ motives in sending this rubbish. It’s manipulative at the very least.
And yet, despite this, maybe there is a redeeming element to some of these — if only incidental.
I got one from my father today. From the beyond the grave.
No, that’s a lie — he’s alive. Shit, he’s not even retired yet. Anyway, the idea of my dad’s chain e-mail (other than “Have a great day. See you for dinner, love Dad”) was:
When someone hurt us we should write down in sand where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does some thing good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it. Learn to write your hurts into sand and carve your benefits in stone.
Can’t argue with that, I guess. Not that I’ve tried. I’d have to examine the grammar first, then work my way toward the meat of it. No, the interesting part of this was not that it summarizes a philosophy to which I already subscribe; the interesting part was the e-mail’s command:
Send this to people you’ll never forget.
There was no threat of bad luck for centuries, no impending doom, no shriveled love life. The message as a whole was virtually useless to any thinking person. The part that struck me was “Send this to people you’ll never forget.”
As weird as it is, even though I know that my dad won’t forget me, I felt strangely reassured. My father remembers me. I’m someone he’ll never forget. It’s a strange way to say I love you, as are all sentimental chain e-mails, but it’s nonetheless good to know that I’m on my old man’s list of people to remember.
It certainly wasn’t “Send this to everyone who needs to be reminded about 9/11.” First off, I don’t need a chain e-mail for that. All I need is 30 seconds watching Fox News.
So what is the redemptive factor, you might ask? He reminded me that I’m his son. That, I like. It’s much better than being reminded to hate terrorists.
I still didn’t forward it to anyone, though. I plan to forget all of you.