I had a friend who used to email me around 40-50 times a day. He emailed my work email. He emailed my personal email. He emailed me a lot. But in the last few months, he’s disappeared.

His name was Best Penis and he was always very concerned about the rigidity of my penis. My other friend, Max Gentleman, was concerned about my penis’ size. My relationship with Max seems to have fizzled as well.

I mean, I guess we were never really close since it never really came up that I don’t even have a penis. And if I were really a good friend, I probably would have pointed out that they were risking their totes legit medical licenses by offering me drugs over email… but I didn’t. And if I were even a half decent human being, I’d be concerned about whether they were in jail or not. A friend might even know if “Best Penis” was his legal name or just a pseudonym.

So I guess I can’t be too sad about the end of our “friendship”. I’m mostly just annoyed that none of the names in my spambox are original or entertaining or familiar. And by annoyed I really just mean… something else that’s not annoyed and is probably better described as “extreme apathy”.

Fortunately, what ends up in “spam” is about the extent of my “annoying email”. I don’t have that uncle who forwards me racist rants about needing to see Hussein Nobama’s birth certificate. My mom doesn’t think Bill Gates is going to give us each $10,000. No high school friends who think that men are waiting under cars at Walmart with knives so they can cut my ankles and rape me and steal my 3M clear  adhesive wall hooks that I just got a great deal on when Walmart matched the double coupon OfficeMax price. This also means that I am pretty much guaranteed not to get that NeimanMarcus cookie recipe this year. I guess that’s part of being a Skeptic. Eventually, everyone just assumes you hate everything and you are just incapable of appreciating their enlightenment… or maybe they’ve just learned better.

Sometimes I miss these emails. There’s no chance for me to quietly pick them apart… I don’t get to challenge myself to find at least 10 red flags in less than 90 seconds. I don’t get to use them to sharpen my skeptic skills. But I also don’t get to step in and intervene if I find someone is sending around dangerous information. Maybe “miss” is a strong word… sometimes I just get oddly nostalgic for rainbow-text, random font, sparkle gif letters where I learn that everyone I love will be murdered by the ghosts of fetuses if I don’t forward to 15 people and pray for them.

Do you still get FWDs? What are your favorite FWDs of yore (or of late)? Does spam annoy or amuse you or both? Do you want to buy a penis extender? Does anyone know where Best Penis and Max Gentleman have gone? Can someone explain to me how someone can be THIS concerned about my penis?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.

Featured image “Terrifying Teeth” courtesy my spambox.
Bonus video:

Elyse

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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39 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Melissa Bramble
    December 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm —

    Actually, I love looking at the URLs of the spam I delete–it’s like dada poetry, a lot of the time. I’ve actually tweeted some of my favorites, stuff like BeliefRabbit and ButterflyWonderingly. (I wonder if BeliefRabbit is like the Black Rabbit from Watership Down.)

  2. Profile photo of primroseroad
    December 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm —

    The spirit of 90s-style panic forwards lives on on Facebook. Had to explain to friends and family that when there’s a baby food or baby product recall, it’s all over the local and national news, and not released via a photo of a slip of paper that says there’s glass in baby food, followed by exclamation points and random commas.

    Share this with everyone you know in 3 seconds!!!,!!!,! 93% of you won’t.

  3. Profile photo of Grand Lunar
    December 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm —

    The only FWDs I get are from my convservative uncle.
    One was a very one-sided article that claimed to have comments from the Secret Service about the presidents. Every Republican was praised, including Nixon. Every Democrat was more or less made to look like shit.

    A penis extender sounds a bit too much like a chain stretcher or a bulkhead remover.
    Wouldn’t such a thing be about as effective as one’s hand?

    I’m trying to figure out how someone could assume you even had a penis, let alone show concern for one!

    What exactly would be the female equivilent of Viagra anyway?

    • Profile photo of Elyse
      December 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm —

      The female equivalent of Viagra is Viagra, actually.

  4. Profile photo of Ken Laws
    December 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm —

    I still get the occasional email with an FBI logo background telling me in Google Translated English that I need to claim the $20 million they’re holding for me. Sometimes though, it’s like they’re not even trying (http://www.kenlaws.tv/2012/10/amateur-hour/)

    I think the last couple of years have seen all the Nobama stuff and Bill Gates chain emails move over to Facebook (for example, the pile of “like this and the Powerball winner will give you money” stuff from last week.) But maybe I think that because I don’t have any old relatives with access to email.

    Finally, like you, nobody has sent me mail offering to enlarge my member in a while. Either they think it’s big enough, or it’s so small that it’s beyond hope.

  5. Profile photo of Mr Pants
    December 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm —

    THis is by for the bes FWD I have ever recieved. (Sorry fo not being savy enough to make a link) “ONIONS! I had never heard this!!!
    PLEASE READ TO THE END: IMPORTANT”

    In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu…
    Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.

    The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

    Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

    Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

    Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know about the farmer’s story…but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill… I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs…sure enough it happened just like that…the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

    Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

    This is the other note. Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we shouldn’t eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.

    LEFT OVER ONIONS ARE POISONOUS

    I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.

    Ed, who was our tour guide, is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.

    “It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really necessary.” He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the summer picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table, and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

    Ed says that, when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the ‘victim’ last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as it’s not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It’s probably the ONIONS, and if not the onions, it’s the POTATOES.

    He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

    It’s already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!). Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you’re asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

    Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

    Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

    • Profile photo of Elyse
      December 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm —

      WHHAAAAAT? At no point could someone edit that to make it readable? Why would someone even send that on? I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL THEY ARE TRYING TO TELL ME ABOUT ONIONS THEY WILL KILL ME AND HEAL ME AND THEY’RE DELICIOUS!

      • Profile photo of Madfishmonger
        December 4, 2012 at 10:30 pm —

        Some people on my Facebook were posting this business about onions again. I’m like er here is the Snopes article…one was like “Can I see some proof of the scientific studies that disprove this?” I don’t think there are any because why bother?

        • Profile photo of quarksparrow
          December 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm —

          Onions are gross and ruin everything that they’re in, so I’m pretty sure this is true. Except for the part about protecting you from flu. Onions will not save you and are probably friends with the plague.

          • Profile photo of Madfishmonger
            December 5, 2012 at 10:26 am

            My bf hates onions too, he calls them the Devil’s food. He will be pleased to see you agreeing with him on this matter.

        • Profile photo of Rei Malebario
          December 5, 2012 at 8:30 am —

          That’s just the typical propaganda you get from Big Onion!

      • Profile photo of Jack99
        December 5, 2012 at 12:44 am —

        ONions are by for the bes for SPORNS too!

  6. Profile photo of Seelix
    December 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm —

    The woman who thinks my email address is hers is a Tea Partier who thinks that the government is spying on her, but can’t enact basic internet security.

    She’s signed me up for all sorts of fabulous tea party email lists. The most recent one tells us all about how the UN, Obama and Hillary Clinton are trying to steal our guns.

    I would be worried if I had guns to steal. Or if I wasn’t already on the payroll of the UN Librul Conspiracy.

  7. Profile photo of Melissa Bramble
    December 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm —

    Oh god, the onions thing reminds me of my mother-in-law talking about this email she got regarding the health benefits of honey and cinnamon. I told her she needed to check that kind of stuff at a site like Snopes, and she hasn’t mentioned emails like that since.

  8. Profile photo of Brian G
    December 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm —

    I too have lost a friend. And not just any old random person, but a celebrity. It turns out that Cedric Diggory wants to help my penis grow! That’s right. A fictional, dead wizard wants to help me “fill her all with pleasure at night”.
    I haven’t heard from Cedric in a while and that makes me sad.

  9. Profile photo of zylla
    December 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm —

    I for one am extremely worried about the size of your penis, Elyse.

    My sister used to forward all sorts of nutty crap, but I’m not sure if she finally got the hint that I didn’t appreciate the flood and debunked everything (usually via Snopes), or if she’s not sending things because she gets on her email about 5 times a year now.

    A friend of mine got tons of emails from her step mother over the election season, mostly about how wonderful Romney was and how much he supported women and how Obama was going to destroy us all.

  10. Profile photo of BeardofPants
    December 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm —

    These days I tend to see scams on FB or craigslist instead of email. Still a lot of gullibility to go around, it seems — just the medium has changed. :-/

    • Profile photo of Elyse
      December 4, 2012 at 4:31 pm —

      I wonder if the public medium makes it so these things are stamped out faster and easier though?

      The message is much easier to spread that something is fake than it used to be.

      Then again, everyone I know is a skeptic, so maybe it just seems like the message gets out fast because we love being smug and being first to spread the gospel of debunkery.

    • Profile photo of Brian G
      December 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm —

      @BeardofPants: For old time’s sake –

      I WOULD LIKE PLEASE FOR YOU TO READ THIS PLEA FROM MY VERY SOUL AND VERY HEART GOD BLESS PLEASE CILICK THIS LINK TO READ MY PRAYERS AND SOLEMN HEART I NEED YOUR HELP
      http://bit.ly/voeGsI

  11. Profile photo of benbradley
    December 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm —

    If only everyone had known about and took the Boulder Pledge BACK WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN, and every person who got online got a lesson and explanation about all that crap … for one thing, ISP’s wouldn’t have email servers with aggressive and highly tuned filters that dump 95+ percent of all email they receive.

    Also, I wouldn’t have had a reason to learn to read email headers.

  12. Profile photo of captaintripps
    December 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm —

    This must be like my experience bicycle commuting in that I’ve never had any of the stereotypical things happen.

    Occasionally an older relative has sent me a forward over the years, but this is extremely rare, usually political, and usually the liberal mirror image of conservative hogwash. But I can’t even think of a concrete example anymore.

    The same on Facebook. Most of the people I associate with or follow simply don’t do any of this stuff. If they believe in woo or think Barack Obama is a crypto-Muslim from Notmerica, they simply don’t seem to be saying it where I can see it on Facebook. In fact, the only time I see this stuff is the one friend of mine who shares all the very liberal equivalents AND if I choose to read the comments of his friends.

    Maybe I just picked the right friends and family?

  13. Profile photo of scribe999
    December 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm —

    Judging by my spam folder, my penis is OK…it’s my credit that needs improving!

  14. Profile photo of weatherwax
    December 4, 2012 at 10:47 pm —

    Interestingly, lately I’ve been getting emails advising me about a website for a new career, from a gentleman named Neil deGrasse Tyson

  15. Profile photo of Rei Malebario
    December 5, 2012 at 8:36 am —

    Nobody ever FWD’s me anything anymore. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve succesfully taught them that neither Bill Gates nor anybody else is going to give them 10,000$ or an iPad or a brand new Fujitso Siemens laptop or indeed anything at all for forwarding emails or whether it’s because they’ve realised that I’m a bastard who’s just going to break the chain so they don’t get their 10,000$/iPad/laptop.

    I do occasionally have people send me links to internet articles explaining how I’m wrong and McDonalds puts crack and ground-up fetuses in their burgers/aspartame*will give me cancer and ebola and make my cock shrivel/[insert event] is really a conspiracy by [someone you don’t like]

  16. Profile photo of procyon
    December 5, 2012 at 11:47 am —

    Back before my spam filter got really good at spotting them, I used to collect the clever subject lines for those pen1s enlarging solicitations:

    Elongate your short sword to fit her scabbard better.
    Grow an anaconda out of your trouser snake.
    Your little soldier will grow up to a big love general!
    Your throbbing missile is ready to fire!
    Change from dagger to BROADSWORD!
    More meat is never excessive

    And my particular favorite for its inherent truth:
    Improbably effect on your phallus.

  17. Profile photo of SteveT
    December 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm —

    I hereby nominate this entire thread for COTW! Thank you all for making me laugh harder than I have in a LONG time.

    Elyse, you are a national treasure!! I would pay good money to see you on stage doing standup.

    • Profile photo of Siveambrai
      December 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm —

      Seconded!

      • Profile photo of Elyse
        December 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm —

        Like real money? Your own real money?

        • Profile photo of SteveT
          December 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm —

          Yes. My own real money! Totes serious! I’ve seen comics on stage that don’t make me laugh nearly as hard as you do. Part of it is that the way you write seems like it would translate really well to a comedy monologue. When I read your stuff it’s easy to “hear” it in my mind. Not everybody’s humor is like that, but yours is. The closest I can come is a Mike Birbiglia sort of vibe.

          The fact that you clearly have no appropriate boundaries helps! :)

        • Profile photo of SteveT
          December 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm —

          In fact, I think you could take this very post, do some minor editing, and totally kill at an open mike night.

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            December 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm

            I feel like I’m being dared to start a career.

  18. Profile photo of Elyse
    December 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm —

    My favorite part of all of this was having to set up special email filters so I would get notified when all these comments got sent into moderation.

    It was like the internet desperately didn’t want this conversation to happen. The web is not ready for the truth about Canadian Penis Pharmacies.

  19. Profile photo of bug_girl
    December 6, 2012 at 7:20 am —

    I was getting a bunch of really creative spam penis enlargement offers for a while.

    Sperms of Endearment
    Moulin Splooge
    Indiana jones and the temple of Poon

    you get the idea.

    http://membracid.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/sperms-of-endearment/

    • Profile photo of bug_girl
      December 6, 2012 at 7:23 am —

      Oh, and “Lawrence of a Labia”.

      That one just abut killed me.

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