May 29, 2006

Tolstoy enlisted to sell Viagra

I just received a spam email (and it got through the filters) containing part of Chapter 18 of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. It was included as random plain text, to fool the spam filters into thinking it was a perfectly ordinary email from a Russian aristocrat. This does worry me a bit: I'm not sure I want to re-train spamassassin to deep-six all messages containing fine writing, richly delineated characters, and depth of emotion. Seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The main content of the spam, of course, was contained in an image showing an advertisement aimed at getting me to purchase pharmaceuticals that would give me "an unbelievable sex during all the night". There are certainly unbelievable aspects to its picture of sex.

The message asks me a number of rhetorical questions, the first two of which are: "Wanna be the first in her list? Are you dreaming about her friends beating your time?"

We appear to be talking about a chick with a stopwatch who has so many friends-with-benefits that she has to keep a list. And my goal is taken to be to rise to the top of that list.

The message then asks, provocatively but incomprehensibly: "Wanna her making all your dreams come true in the bed?" I think actually I wanna them making all my emails come understandable in the translation.

But let's move on. The next topic has to do with what other people say: "Would you like to hear from the babes, ‘he was the best man in my life’?" Well, note (for this is Language Log) the third person singular. If the babes are saying, "He was the best man in my life" to me, they're talking about someone else (someone who, if they're all saying it, has bedded all of them).

Perhaps the intent is to ask me whether I would like to hear from the babes that one of their number had been talking about me and had said in that context "He was the best man in my life", meaning by "he", me? Well, I invite you to note also (for this is Language Log) the preterite (or simple past) tense. If she (or they) said "was" rather than "is" when talking about me, then apparently I'm history already. (Who has displaced me, in this scenario? All those "friends" of hers beating my time, I guess.) So the answer is, since they ask, no, I definitely do not want to learn that the babes have been saying "He was the best man in my life."

Following this indirect-discourse puzzler, the message moves directly to the heart of the matter, or rather (for its priorities are clear), the phallus of the matter. It turns out that "your hypersexuality doesn't depend on the size of your penis, it depends on its ability to keep its hard-on up to several hours! And that's the way to deliver the best orgasm to her!"

So there we have it. Hours and hours of pounding, that's what those babes want. Relentless, unstoppable, bed-breaking hammering from a guy (size doesn't matter) with a multi-hour chemically-induced erection that beats all the time records set by everyone else in the long lists of timings and orgasm counts that the little sluts all keep in their diaries. This is the picture of mutual sexual pleasuring that is offered by these people, whom we are expected to trust in matters of pharmacosexual advice.

What we have here is a case of someone trying to sell generic Viagra using advertising copy written by sexually inexperienced male illiterates with small peckers. And the copy comes wrapped in Anna Karenina now. I'm so glad Tolstoy didn't live to see this.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at May 29, 2006 10:09 PM