(HOST) With the coming of email and the internet, spam has become a fact of life for most of us. And commentator Deborah Luskin can’t resist regarding it with a critical literary eye.
(LUSKIN) Ever since I launched a website, I’ve become the daily recipient of a kind of spam that has a certain charm. The subject line usually reads, "Dear Beloved," and the email itself begins with great politeness, "I will be very glad if you do assist me." The writers then tell me who they are and how they come to be in possession of millions of dollars, euros, or gold, which they need my help to reclaim – for a substantial cut, of course.
Charmed as I am, I don’t believe a word of it, and find it hard to believe that anyone who receives one of these emails would be so foolhardy as to reply, let alone provide the personal identification information that the spammers are after. The millions these spammers seek are not gathering dust in some Swiss bank account, but lie in the fraudulent use the spammers can make from successful identity theft.
But the other day, I received spam that didn’t ask for my help and wasn’t polite or even charming. It was a direct appeal for my money or my life. Instead of deleting it, I read it through.
I don’t know which appalled me more: the writer’s massacre of English grammar or that all she demanded was eight grand. The subject line read, "Some one you call your friend, want’s you dead." That’s spelled: w-a-n-t-apostrophe-s. I don’t doubt this is true. I imagine that I have even more enemies than I’m aware of, but I’m pretty sure that they all know better than to use an apostrophe-s with "want," making it a possessive noun, when what they mean is "wants," a verb used with an object meaning "to wish, need, crave, demand, or desire."
Worse than the misuse of the apostrophe, the writer of this death threat has committed the cardinal sin of separating the subject of the sentence, "Someone," from the verb, "wants," with a comma – a signal grammatical no-no, and not the sort of thing my friends or likely enemies would do.
But the plot thickens. The writer offers me a chance to "spear" my life. That’s s-p-e-a-r. I’d rather a chance to spare it – s-p-a-r-e – a simple matter of spelling. It turns out the sender’s just the executive whose "boys" are tracking me down. She writes, "my men are monitoring you and your every steps." She says, "my eyes is on you, i am every were, even the place you think’s safer to hide, trust me, might be my den."
If the author of the email does to me what she’s done to the English language, it’s not going to be pretty.
Grammar aside, this is a bit creepy, so I called the State Police, who maintain a Computer Crimes Unit. I don’t in a million years think they’ll be able to track down the author, or that there really are guns hired to off me. Nevertheless, I don’t think anyone should get away with murder, not even of the English language.