Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 18, 2016

I Miss Spam: Speak, Memory

Nostalgia can strike at any time once the thrill of the hunt, the daily pursuit for shelter, food and daily connections are taken care of. The human mind — our greatest treasure and vilest curse — keeps striving to exercise its voluminous capacity for imagination and renewal. When things start settling down, it turns inward to memory and the past.

Our memories are prodigious, powerful entities: replete with vivid, entrancing images, sounds and sensations of beauty, love, longing and fulfillment. They are also often misleading, selective or — surely the mind’s cruelest trick of all — utterly invented and not at all true.

Where do those false memories come from? Perhaps your mother told you a story from your earliest childhood, and its constant repetition during your most impressionable years leads you to believe you actually remember something that happened when you were only a year old. It may be a photograph in the school yearbook, showing three friends having a wonderful time at a dance. You mistakenly put yourself in a scene, just out of the picture — a gloriously halcyon moment of untrammeled youth — that you weren’t part of because you were at home, recovering from a dose of poison ivy you got three days earlier. Your memory is happier at the dance, not lying on the sofa in the living room watching “Dallas” on TV.

I’m often a victim of such memorial wandering. I recount with absolute clarity the engaging things that happened on a day in in 19XX when …. But I wasn’t there. I’ve been blessed and cursed by being part of a large family of smart, articulate siblings and parents who have acute memories of their own. There’s nothing more discouraging than being told by five or six other people that, no, blaknissan, you weren’t there. You stayed in your room, reading. You skipped that family trip, and we had all the fun (with the inescapable intimation that it was MORE fun BECAUSE I wasn’t there).

The lure of nostalgia is compelling, erasing from our reverie whatever was bad, disappointing, petty or mundane, elevating our past to a string of sparkling moments glistening in the golden light of the loveliest autumn days, while plangent music played. We were younger, smarter, stronger and better looking, and we’re beguiled to believe in a life we never lived.

The subject can be anything: the aroma of lunch wafting from the school cafeteria when you skipped down the stairs in second grade; the cool, clear water of the lake you swam in (what was its name?) that one perfect summer vacation; the smile on the face of the cute girl who sat behind you in 7th grade.

No, I’m sorry. The cafeteria was a subterranean health hazard reeking with the scent of liver and onions, that pristine lake was a muddy-bottomed trash pit ringed by run-down cottages. The girl in 7th grade English class? The look on her face when she passed her spelling test forward to you was a leer of disdain at your unremitting dorkiness, not a smile of blushing admiration. Sorry to break it you like this. I know that girl (all grown up now), and she told me.

We persist in whitewashing the past. Anything — real or imagined — can have its tawdry surface and harsh reality glossed over with a fresh coat of vibrant paint through a trick of memory.

Take, for example, one of the most irritating, invasive and nasty aspects of the online-all-the-time world we inhabit: spam. We’ve become inured to it, and accept it as an inherent flaw in the fabric of life, like ants at a picnic or mosquitos on the shore of a lovely lake in the forest at the foot of snow-capped peaks. We’re more insulated from it now than formerly, since filters and software strain much of it out of our email and websites, but spam is still with us.

Sometimes I miss spam.

Really, you ask: nostalgia for spam? Yea, I say, because, like everything else from pushup ice cream bars to automobiles, they don’t make ’em like they usedta. In its day, some spam, frankly, ranked among the most entertaining verbal expression on the internet. I was reminded of that when a blog post I wrote 6 years ago got a hit, so I looked at it again. In those days, a lot of spam consisted of long passages of copy packed with clickable links (all of them highly dangerous). The copy had been written in some language other than English, then run through an automatic translation tool. The results were mind-bogglingly, unfailingly hilarious. In celebration of those glory days of spam, here are a few excerpts from two.

Spam promoting someone’s abilities as a web programmer:

You can’t be the captain of your own depart if you can’t let something be known flinty from starboard.

You resolution realise, if you haven’t yet, that earning a living without holding a project requires you to learn skills that you may not have expert before. (Words to live by!)

Judge of a webhost as a innocuous lay crate, and the province monicker as the justifiable lay down thump number.

When you tally for net hosting, you are buying lacuna in a innocuous place box.

An FTP Software is an appeal that enables you to transfer matter from your computer to your website on the Internet, and sin versa. (My favorite. The translator turned “vice” into “sin.”)

Flacking the latest in sports shoes (2010) — the ones with individual toes:

Being bare-ass footed meant that I sway get mar close any debris that may cut when I slog on the sand or in the water while getting in or gone from of my canoe.

I’m finding the outdoor sports shoes very complacent, and although I cannot run with it as I would with regular management divertissement shoes, at least I can walk along the pontoon or bank arena in hearten, incompatible with when I hand-me-down to walk barefooted. (Probably original “used” became “hand-me-down.”)

My feet used to affront or bring back scorched from the latest territory, but not with these fivefingers sport shoes I don’t. Treat a look at the pictures to foresee how the fivefingers out of doors sports hold up to ridicule shoes look like from the crown and bottom. (I hope somewhere in England there’s a pub named “Crown and Bottom.”)

You can’t go home again, but at least you can remember it … dimly.

To read these timeless gems in their entirety, go to:

The Pinnacle Achievement in Spam and Saturday Update

May you always be captain of your own depart, and always know flinty from starboard.

© Brad Nixon 2016

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