I get a lot of spam in my e-mail, and I'm beginning to wonder if someone knows something I don't. I used to get pleas for help from mothers of missing children, or Zambian expatriates who wanted to store their millions of dollars of gold in my bank account, but things have changed. If all the stuff being sold so vigorously via e-mail is somehow proof of who Americans are and what we want out of the 21st century, then, quite literally, I'm missing the larger metaphor: Assuming my inbox is any indication, the most pressing concern currently facing the country is the size of my johnson.
Oh, sure, I receive the occasional promise to tell me how to lose weight, be my own boss, see Britney Spears naked, or marry a lonely, big-breasted Russian maiden named Tanka, but the majority of the helpful hints are the ones swearing that if I act right now, I won't need a bungee cord the next time I choose to hang off a bridge. The subject lines for these penis pitches vary in their approaches: There's the clinical "Our penis enlargement program delivers results," the excitable "Make her gasp when she sees your penis for the first time!" and the straightforward, let's-cut-to-the-chase "Achieve ROCK HARD erections any time you want." (My personal favorites, simply for their dastardly cunning, are the variations that purport to be from some co-worker or other who had something important to tell me at the office, but it just plain slipped her mind: "Oh, Steve! I forgot. . . . Achieve ROCK HARD erections any time you want.")
Now, as most regular readers have deduced, I'm a fan of the male Southern Hemisphere as much as the next solo explorerbut I didn't know I needed to be concerned about the land mass of my own peninsula. Have supposedly satisfied tourists not been honest with me? I admit that, somewhere in the process of my highly professional investigationswhich is too involved for me to go into at this momentI may, possibly, have stumbled across a Web site or two featuring men who could win a three-legged race without a partner. I'm a journalist, and naturally intrigued by all kinds of cultures. But this shouldn't mean that I'm then besieged with e-mails assuming I'm yearning to be a member of the tribe. I mean, I've logged onto plenty of Shakespeare sites in my cybertravels, and no one bombards me with missives telling me how to be Hamlet.
I've become completely neurotic about the whole thing and filled with the kind of, um, penetrating questions that won't let me sleep at night: Is the desire for a bigger best friend really what every man is thinking about? Is this really what I'm thinking about, and I just don't know it? Or are these savvy Internet salesmen simply tapping into the darkest secret of men's souls, this lack of phallic confidence which provides the reason for the production of every menacing, oversized weapon of mass destructionsteely battleships, elongated missiles, and three-hour Kevin Costner films?
How I long for the days of "Swiecking! Drop 20 pounds fast!"