I don't think I'm alone in hating spam, the unwanted sludge that clogs your e-mail inbox. I'm all in favor of legislation that allows convicted spammers to be punished in the most awful ways possible: shaved, rolled in bread crumbs, then deep-fried in peanut oil, for example, or forced to listen to 12 straight hours of a fourth-grade band concert.

What I find so amazing about spam is that the spammers must think we're complete idiots. They think we'll hand over our bank account information for a chance at some portion of a $27 million Nigerian fortune or that we'll suddenly decide that right now is the time to whiten our teeth/enlarge our bust/refinance our house/ improve our sex life/purchase a tiny, remote-control car.

I suppose that's the way it works. You have to send out millions of stupid e-mails in the hope that you'll hit it big with one or two dolts.

But I confess that as much as I hate spam, I sort of like the subject headings spammers use. Trying to catch your attention or outsmart your spam filter, spammers often employ language that has a sort of inscrutable, idiot savant poetry about it.

For the past few months, I've been collecting my favorite subject headings from messages flagged by my spam filter. Looking at them, I can imagine a conversation . . .

hello

Uh, hello.

long time no see . . .

Well, I've been busy. You know how it is.

do you love me?

There are only a select few people who are allowed to ask me that. And all of them are more likely to ask me in person rather than via e-mail. So excuse me if I refuse to even dignify that question with a response.

looking for a man

I am, technically, of that gender.

looking for a real man

Already with the conditions. . . .

is your wife satisfied? conferring

Now I ask you, what sort of question is that? And whaddya mean "conferring"? Who is? The United Nations High Commissioner for Wife Satisfaction? And why are you asking me anyway? Shouldn't you be talking to my wife?

The complete guide to find that special so . . .

"That special so . . ." ? Do you mean that special so-and-so? That special sob sister? That special soap bubble? Soda fountain, soda cracker, soda jerk? Sodium-vapor lamp? Sousaphone? Souvlaki? I hope it's souvlaki. Because if it's souvlaki, I'd like to know. Special souvlaki is worth finding.

take a moment to protect yourself from lar . . .

Ah, here I'm fairly sure they must mean "from larrigans," a larrigan being a type of oiled-leather moccasin worn by Canadian woodsmen. Personally, I protect myself with Larrigan Away, available in either roll-on or spray at a pharmacy near you.

Important Message

And here I was just about to delete this just because it came from someone named xfghxxtyvupax237@larry.ru. Good thing I noticed that it said "Important Message." You wouldn't put that on an unimportant message, would you?

SOMETHING IMPORTANT

See above.

TREAT AS URGENT

How about I treat as toxic waste and drop it into the Marianas Trench?

get vicodin and anything else here

Anything else? Even some special souvlaki?

My testimonial about skuper viakgra

"Hekre's my tesktimonial: Skuper Viakgra wkorks greakt! Thkere's onkly one skide effkect. I tkalk fkunny nokw."

Kellyj shuck warplane greatcoat butternut

Wow, man, that's deep.

churchwomen

I know, I know: Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Did ya ever notice?

Andy Rooney, is that you? You know I have a restraining order.

=?iso-2022-jp?q?=96=A2=8F=B3=91=F8=8DL=8D . . .

Either my computer is trying to tell me something or someone has e-mailed me the closing moves of a particularly exciting chess match.

waht?

If you can't even spell the word "what," how can I trust that your get-rich scheme/generic Levitra/gross of Chinese-made carborundum drill bit is all that you claim it is?

Egypt's best e-marketing offer

Egypt, huh? Well I . . .

Egypt's Best Seminars in July 2004

But I haven't made up my mind about that e-marketing offer yet, and I . . .

tipsy baseball egypt

Well I'm not going to go to Egypt if you're going to spout gibberish.

greetings from the netherlands

Please don't treat me like Egypt.

Worldwide Canadian Generic Drugstore

Aren't "Canadian" and "generic" sort of redundant?

CAN YOU WORK FOR CHRIST???

MAYBE!!! What are the benefits? Major medical? Dental? Snapple in the break room?

lonely and horny

It's been my experience that the horny do not stay lonely for long.

This is not another useless 3 Ring Binder . . .

I am touched that you can sense my deep disappointment at the three-ring binders that, until now, have been a constant, irritating presence in my life.

[no subject] (from [no sender])

Finally, truth in spamvertising.

Why do I get so much spam? Probably because I'm fool enough to print my e-mail address. It's kellyj@washpost.com. Or write me at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Or call me at 202-334-5129.