THE INSPIRATION OF SPAM
by Melodie Johnson Howe
Coffee in hand I stagger into my office to begin writing. I crank up the computer and wait for it to go through its machinations. My icons appear on the screen. I tell myself not open my emails. Don’t do it, Melodie, you’ll get bogged down. Start to write.
I open my emails.
I have twenty-two emails. Some are from people I actually know but most are from people I don’t know. Such as: Edna Romero, Dori Garcia, Burt Y. Levine and Pocahontas Ludwig.
I click on Dori Garcia. She writes to tell me: “Como esta Johnson Howe if nothing else worked, penis pills is the only answer.”
I ponder this for a moment. “If nothing else worked?” Could she mean my writing? Get a grip, Melodie. You know what she means. But I’m a woman. Could these penis pills cure penis envy? I have to admit I like Ms. Garcia’s use of alliteration.
I wonder what Edna Romero has to say. She doesn’t bother with any como esta, she gets right to the point. “Do you typically reach orgasm before your partner? Premature ejaculation is one of the sexual dysfunction forms that affects millions of men from around the world. You are not alone.”
Again, even though I’m a woman I’m touched by Edna’s concern that I’m not alone. And I’m impressed with her sense of globalization, her “we are one world” sensibility. However I’m less impressed with the phrase: “sexual dysfunction forms.” I’m not sure what that means exactly. Would penis pills help?
Burt Y. Levine is not as caring, nor as good a writer, as the two women. He plunges right in. (Sorry about the choice of words.) “Did you always wanted to enjoy ordinary penis and ordinary women? We don’t believe it. So we have something special to you.”
I contemplate his words. Does Burt mean that this ordinary man who is enjoying himself with his ordinary woman shouldn’t be? Is an ordinary orgasm not good enough for Burt? And what exactly is an ordinary orgasm? Do you lay back, light up a cigarette, and say, wow, that was ordinary. I feel the sneer of illiterate elitism in Burt’s writing. I think Burt needs to get a life or take his own medication and leave the ordinary folk alone.
Pocahontas Ludwig writes: “I’m bored today. And so tired. Do you want to talk with me?”
As a writer I admire her brevity. But if Pocahontas is bored and tired, why would I want to talk with her? Who wants to have a conversation with a dull witted exhausted woman? And what would I say to her? Well, I could complement her on her name. There is something daring and bold about it. It reflects our glorious state of multiculturalism. Her name brings together an American Indian legend and a strict German sensibility. Maybe Ms Ludwig is related to Beethoven. If his DNA is flowing through her, along with the famous princess’, then how could she possibly be bored? With those genes she’s no ordinary woman. I think Pocahontas and Burt should get together. I wonder if I can fix them up.
My coffee is cold. The morning is gone. I take my cup and saunter into the kitchen. My husband is at the table reading The Wall Street Journal and eating a peanut butter sandwich.
“How’s it going?” he asks.
“How’s what going?”
He looks up from his paper. “The novel. The short story. Whatever you’re working on.”
“Oh, fine, fine.” I pour myself some coffee. He’s assessing me over the rim of his glasses.
“Which is it? The novel or the short story?
I’m now shuffling my feet like a child and looking guilty. “Oh, I’m sort of letting my unconscious … ”
“Why can’t you just delete spam like any other ordinary person?”
I immediately think of Burt. “Am I ordinary?”
“What?” He takes a bite of his sandwich.
“You know, ordinary.” I give him a sexy wink. He’s looking a little confused. A dab of peanut butter drips on his chin.
“No, you’re not.” He says this as if he might be happier with an ordinary woman.
“Burt thinks that ordinary men and woman don’t enjoy themselves. You have peanut butter on your chin.”
“Burt? Who’s Burt?” He wipes the peanut butter away.
“He’s a guy who’s obsessed with the extraordinary, the epic, the largeness of life, the longer view. He can’t settle for anything small. The little things in life frustrate him.”
I suddenly feel the thrill of a character developing. I feel the need to get Burt down on paper. Maybe Pocahontas Ludwig too, if can wake her up. I’m excited. “I can’t talk now. I have to write.”