My Life With Spam

I haven’t forgotten that the focus of my blog at the moment is supposed to be an examination of a writer’s life during the process of taking a manuscript from draft to publication. There’s not much to report, however, from this last week. I have had no feedback from my editor regarding my revisions to Oranges and Lemons, but I’m continuing with some initial promotion on it. There’s been more activity on book #3.  I’ve written several thousand words in the last few days, and I’m happy with how it’s going. Unlike the last book, I am feeling a connection with this one, and as a result, ideas and words are flowing. If things continue this way, I should reach my self-imposed deadline of having a first draft by the beginning of February.

It appears I’ve been able to spew out over 100 words focused on my lack of material for this blog entry. So be it. Now I’ll get on to my planned topic: a discussion of Spam.

I know that what I am about to say dates me, but it won’t be the first or last time.

My early relationship with Spam is still a vivid memory. I’m talking about the original Spam in the tin, (Apparently the name means shoulder pork ham. I just learned that from Wikipedia. Don’t tell my students I used it as a source, or that I didn’t cite it properly.) the kind you eat, if you don’t care about what you put into your body. Back in the day –  the day being the late 50’s in my case – people didn’t pay all that much attention to ingredients, as long as you liked the taste. I happened to like the taste of Spam, so my mother made me a Spam sandwich with mustard on white bread every Friday and packed it in my little plaid metal lunchbox to take to my after-school program at the YWCA.

I remember very little about the gym, swim and crafts sessions, but I remember in detail the supper part. I felt so lucky to have my Spam sandwich, especially since one little girl always brought a tin of sardines. She would pick up each smelly, oily sardine and hold it over her mouth Roman grape style, before consuming it with great relish. To this day, I would rather have the Spam.

Fast forward to 1970. I moved to England knowing I would find some dietary differences. It didn’t take long before I noticed that Spam was not restricted to little girls’ Friday afternoon lunchboxes. Almost every local tea shop or corner restaurant had Spam on the menu. It was also in 1970 that Monty Python made this phenomenon famous with the Spam sketch.

Back in Canada with no plaid lunchbox, Spam had begun to fade from my memory. Then came computers and with them email. Suddenly Spam became a part of my life again. Hundreds of offers for Rolex watches and Viagra flooded my inbox and later my Spam folder.

When I established a website, Spam followed me there. Being foolish enough to have a comment option on my site, I am inundated daily with badly written comments from spammers who say something about how my post has changed their lives, when all they want is for me to visit their treadmill or real estate sites. My favourite so far was a poorly spelled comment complaining about my spelling and offering help.

Spam has even found me on Twitter.

Other than thinking about electronic spam as a sometimes amusing annoyance, I hadn’t until I contemplated writing this post, made the connection between today’s spam and the original. For any of you who share my naivety, electronic spam was named “spam” because of the Monty Python sketch. Now you know.

Last time I was at the grocery store I checked the shelf, and it still holds cans of Spam. Maybe one day I’ll go back to my roots and have a Spam sandwich. Until then, I’ll keep my finger on delete .

 

(Image: cs.berkeley.edu)

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