Growing up, Spam was a regular part of our family cuisine. Spam sandwiches … spam and eggs … and on special occasions, my mother would dress up a chunk of Spam with some cloves and slice of pineapple before tossing it in the oven. When that delicacy showed up on the dinner table it was, for me, the culinary equivalent of a hickory-smoked spiral-sliced ham with all the trimmings.
Today, though, the word “Spam” has become shorthand for, among other things, the relentless barrage of unsolicited emails stretching the capacity of my inbox while offering everything from financial advice to Russian brides. On the other hand, a recent proposal from a Nigerian prince looks promising … he promises to make me wealthy if I will just help him transfer a large sum of money out of his country. I will let you know how that turns out.
Spam phone calls are, of course, a major problem as well but, for us, the remedy was simple … we cancelled our land-line phone. Not only did that decision save us some money, we are also spared the deluge of political campaign calls that crop up every election cycle. We now rely upon our cell phone caller ID which allows us to answer when we recognize a name or number, while ignoring those without an identifier. That way, if someone wants to talk to us they leave a message and we call them back.
There is, by the way, an interesting back story about how annoying calls and emails came to be named after the famous canned meat product. In a 1970 sketch from the Monty Python comedy series, a waitress reads aloud a menu in which every item but one includes Spam, while a chorus of patrons drown out all conversation by repeating “Spam, Spam, Spam … Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!” Thereafter, the term was adopted to describe abusive users in early chat-rooms who would flood the screen with the word “Spam” or other annoying text to drive away newcomers or prevent rival groups from chatting.
Some clever “home remedies” for dealing with Spam calls have evolved, including one senior citizen with a talent for making his voice sound like Donald Duck. The YouTube video of him using that famous cartoon character’s voice to talk with a Spam caller is hilarious, especially when it results in the telemarketer, in frustration, finally hanging up on him!
That priceless bit of video shows that we can have a bit of fun while deflecting nuisance callers. To that end, I am perfecting my imitation of Woody Woodpecker in anticipation of the next person who interrupts my dinner to talk about my car’s extended warranty.