Spam Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

“Where were you a year ago, Wilson?” Amy half-jokingly asked her laptop.

On a random Thursday morning, Amy woke up to discover that her boyfriend of four years had left her. Eleven months of ensuing loneliness had hardened her a bit.

She had a message notification, alerting her that a non-friend wanted to send her a message. On a lark, she hit ‘accept.’

Below the picture of an attractive man, Amy saw the words, “Hello, beautiful.” Next to the message, his name: Wilson.

She snickered.

There were worse alternatives, she knew. She’d accidentally read dozens of them over the years. Few were noteworthy except for the depth of the lengths they would plummet to in an attempt to get her attention. Any reply at all immediately brought an onslaught of emboldened clichés, anatomically correct pictures, and strange requests.

Like so many women in today’s world, Amy learned to stop being curious. She marked all of them as spam and blocked them if she had the option. When even that option grew tiresome, she ignored the folder where such messages automatically went, thinking that any legitimate follow-ups would happen anyway.

Deciding that “Hello, Beautiful” wasn’t beyond the line, she went to her folder of hidden messages. To her surprise, there were thirteen. The first eight were horrendous and undoubtedly crafted by the King of Creeps. A few more were just unimaginative. Because she had started the process, she would finish.

She clicked open the thirteenth.

To her surprise, she saw a thumbnail of an average-looking man staring back at her. He was smiling. In his message, a single link. Though Amy knew not to click it, she did. Expecting the worst, she found herself looking at an online journal from a man named Evan Croft. It sounded like a Hollywood name or internet troll. Amy didn’t mind the idea of being famous – just not for being the star player in a true-crime documentary on Lifetime.

As she began reading his latest entry, Amy leaned in to read more closely. Thirty posts later, and Amy was a bit embarrassed to find herself fascinated by his life. It wasn’t that he lived an adventurous life; he appreciated people and moments that clarified more significant moments.

Before she could talk herself out of it, Amy answered Evan’s original message: “Hi, Evan. Let’s talk.” She watched the message go through. Unread.

“Well, I’m not doing anything else, so…” Amy continued reading. She took time to make a light supper for herself but forged ahead. Divorced, two children, creative job, and interested in everything. There had to be a catch, and not just because he wrote her as a stranger.

At six, Amy jumped a little when her notification ping sounded. Evan read and replied to her message: “I would love to talk. Over webcam, text, call, or shall we meet in person, like two savages? I leave the decision at your feet.” Suddenly, Amy felt a pang of buyer’s remorse and uncertainty.

Swallowing her fear again, she wrote, “My phone number is: xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

Ten seconds later, her cellphone lit up.

Without regard to waiting for a reasonable interval, Amy scrambled and grabbed the phone, sliding the ‘answer’ option as quickly as her fingers could manage.

“Hey, this is Amy!” She blurted out, smiling through her voice.

“I hope so, Amy, unless you’re accustomed to strangers answering your cell!” Evan laughed deeply at his own joke.

“Duh, yes I am. I do my best work at random bus stations and park benches.” Amy found that she, too, was laughing.

An hour later, both Amy and Evan were still animatedly trading comments and barbs back and forth.

“I’ll call you later, Amy, if that’s okay?” Evan’s voice sounded uncertain.

“Yes, please do!” Amy told him, unable to conceal the enthusiasm.

“Okay, have a good evening,” he replied.

Amy hit ‘end’ on the call. She sat at her computer desk, looking at the phone.

She was startled when it lit up and began to vibrate. Excitedly, she answered the phone.

“Hello? This is Amy!” For once, she was glad to answer her phone.

“Hi, Amy. This is Evan. It’s later, so I decided to give you a call back.” Though he didn’t laugh, Amy heard the impending laugh waiting in the back of his throat.

“Dork!” she said. To her, “impending laugh” sounded like an ideal recipe for a new life.

“Guilty as charged.” He laughed.

Amy couldn’t remember why she had doubted she would find interesting people in the world. Maybe even in the spam folder.

Evan and Amy still laugh about their first conversation, being lucky thirteen in the spam folder, and their two years together.

Spam is in the eye and heart of the beholder.

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