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Holly Lake Effect

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Holly Lake Effect

By LUCY GERMANY

Spam: It's not for dinner anymore...

Used to be when somebody said Spam, I would wonder if there was any bread in the house. . Spam was something you put on sandwiches with a dollop of mayo or mustard and maybe a layer of sweet pickle relish.

But the grand old name has been thoroughly tarnished now, thanks to the aggressiveness of the internet in helping us clean up our slate of incoming news. This didn't take place overnight—Spam has a descending history. For a long time Spam –not actually identified—would come up when you opened your email. You dealt with it by giving it the delete treatment or once in a while—being curious—you opened one or two just to find out what is going on in the world of stuff. Well it turned out to be a lively world and it has in recent history become even livelier. Spam is identified in distinct letters on your computer screen. Since it has acquired its own domain name you don't have to deal with it any longer as an uninvited e-mail guest.

But every so often I have the urge to de-capitate spam, to show it who's boss, to treat it as my mother treated wandering encyclopedia salespeople who would come to her door looking hungry,

Here's what I found while wandering in the Spam world one day last week: I can have any one of a huge variety of services just by responding to a simple message on the screen:

I can have my bathroom remodeled—though it doesn't need it.

I can get not one night but two full nights at a popular motel—free. Sorry I can't mention the name but you know who I mean. (Free?—well, maybe but there has got to be a hidden agenda—like you pay to get in the elevator or to park or to sit on one of their chairs—the total making up for what you didn't pay for your free room. Or the room they give you is behind the filling station across the highway.

Publisher's Clearing House guarantees me that I'm on the select list for a six-digit prize. All I have to is open the front door and scream and do a little dance when they hand me the check.

I can get a high school diploma without ever even getting out of bed. It comes to me in the early morning ether—sort of like a piece of floating cloud. It makes me suddenly smart even though I never was smart.

I can get "fast delivery" of something—I don't know what it is since I have no interest in the details. But I like fast delivery—I could use it right around Christmas time when I have all these people to send stuff to.

I can get a job at home—now this is a winner! All I have to do is sign a bunch of complicated documents that will be full of glittering promises—$200 a week...$400—multiply that times twelve and I'm suddenly in an upper tax bracket!

Somebody hopes I'm interested in a fork lift. I have always thought myself to be capable of lifting a fork, especially when I am hungry. But lessons in managing cutlery? Surely there's something not quite right here.

The list goes on. But the one that interests me the most is "maid service" Do I get an actual maid through the mail? Do I get an e-mailed list of what a maid ought to do and how to do it? Do I get pictures of prospective maids on e-mail so I can pick the best-looking one? Do they come with all the latest equipment? Are they okay with taking out the garbage?

If you are the type who regards Spam as a mere nuisance you may be missing the chance of a lifetime. There may be something hidden in all those messages that will earn you passage through the pearly gates. Or maybe if you pick the perfect maid you won't have to have your bathroom remodeled or need a fork lift.