Coming full circle

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 1999, Debra Lo Guercio, all rights reserved

   Life has come full circle. I have become my own junk mail.

   It happened just yesterday morning, when I opened up my emailbox and found it flooded with new messages. Some folks are able to just delete all that unsolicited mail without even reading it. I, unfortunately, am not one of them.

   I feel compelled to read each and every email. I’m sure that if I was to delete even one without reading it, the sender would know. Somehow, some way, she or he would know. And I’d feel horribly guilty. Just like I do when I open a can of tuna where my pet beta fish can see me. (See, not all of us need drugs. Some of us are already disturbed all on our own.)

   So, there I was, alleviating my future guilt by dutifully reading the fresh crop of cyber jokes in my emailbox. The first one, about a blond, a brunette and a bull, actually made me laugh. I got lucky. Most of these things are real groaners.

   Once in awhile, there’s a gem in there, like the one about the monkey and the billiard ball. That one was so funny, I can actually tell the whole joke without forgetting the punchline. Which is quite a feat for me, because the area of my brain that remembers jokes short-circuited long ago, along with the area that remembers names.

   It has to be an outstandingly funny joke in order for my little neurons to knit together and decide to retain the information for further use. Unfortunately, I can’t share the monkey joke right now because it is not the type of joke one tosses into print in a family newspaper. You’ll just have to ask me sometime and get a live rendition.

   I was hoping (since these new emails came from the same person who sent the monkey joke) that maybe there was another gem worthy of taking up lodging in my gray matter, so I clicked onto the next one, entitled, “Early Christmas Wish.” Knowing my friend’s penchant for off-color humor, I expected a Christmas list that surely included items requiring batteries. And I don’t mean for a Walkman.

   I was partially right. It was a Christmas list. It started out “Dear Santa.” And what was on that Christmas list? “I want to slap Martha Stewart.”

   Hey wait one home-grown, handspun cotton pickin’ minute. I’ve read that somewhere before. No, wait. Not only have I read it before, I’ve written it before.

   Sure enough, it was that column I wrote two years ago about my desire to give Martha back a little bit of the pain that she spreads to those of us who are, shall we say gently, domestically challenged.

   A few months back, a reader wrote to me and told me the Martha column was circulating in cyberspace, and I felt a bit honored. Maybe the LA Times had turned me down repeatedly, but at least in the world of email, people liked something I wrote enough to forward it along to someone else.

   However, when that first person wrote to me, my name was still circulating along with the column. That was one of the key differences between then and now. Somewhere along the line, my name was deleted from the column and continued to be forwarded along, and apparently now has become public domain, like singing Happy Birthday. Nobody knows who wrote it and nobody cares.

   Except for the poor guy who first strung those notes together. In a word . . . Ouch!

   I wrote back to my friend and told her I’d written that piece and if she forwards it again, would she please put my name back on it, along with “McNaughton Newspapers, copyright 1997” (Not that anyone actually abides by that, but it looks really cool.)

   She replied back, and expressed her surprise that I was the writer, something along the lines of “Oh, really. And I’m the Queen of England.”

   Well, Queenie, it’s true. I did write it. Not that anyone will believe me anymore. I’m sure there’s some poor songwriter shuffling along a dirty city sidewalk somewhere, and upon hearing a chorus of “Happy Birthday” wafting from a local pub, mutters to anyone who will listen, “Hey, I wrote that!”

   Yeah, right pal. The Royal Family is already too crowded.

   Oh well, maybe this is a new level of success, in some backwards sort of way. Becoming your own junk mail isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. It sure beats picking up the milk carton and finding your own face there. Especially if you didn’t know you were missing.

   And at least I know somebody out there is enjoying something I wrote, and that makes me happy. But there is one little thing that would make me even happier than someone emailing my Martha column to me. And that would be someone emailing it to Martha herself.

   Now that (God forgive me for saying it) would be a Good Thing.