THE news is pretty crummy these days. No revelation there. The economy is in the tank. Tensions between the Israelis and Hamas are as volatile as they've ever been.
Our own wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drag on. Our new President has to wrestle with all of them, and the news media are obligated to report lots of stuff that does nothing to moderate winter's chill.
If my e-mail is any indication, people are suffering from illness and fatigue. They are sick and tired of it all. They look for anything that will cheer them up, though they don't necessarily expect to find it on the op-ed pages of One of America's Great Newspapers.
So as a public service, I'm sharing a lengthy e-mail I received several months ago. It came from a friend, but the original author is unknown, or at least unidentified in the copy I got.
On the one hand, its message is itself depressing, lampooning the foolishness that some folks fall for out there on the World Wide Web.
But it also shows the resiliency and good humor of folks determined to ride out the bad times and make the best of their situation.
With full credit to whoever came up with it, here goes:
I must send my thanks to whoever sent me a note about rat manure in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.
I now scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.
I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.
In fact, all my money is gone but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates, Microsoft, and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.
Or I'll receive it from the senior bank clerk in Nigeria who wants to split $7 million with me for pretending to be a long lost relative of a customer who died.
I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.
I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
Because of your concern, I no longer drink Coca-Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
I no longer buy gas without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat while I'm filling up.
And I don't go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number and I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.
Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big, brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death.
And thanks to your great advice, I can't even pick up the $5 I found dropped in the parking lot because it was probably placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5 p.m. this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician.
By the way, a South American scientist after a lengthy study has discovered that people with low IQs who have infrequent sexual activity always read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse.
Don't bother taking it off now. It's too late.
Not long ago we had some fun with clever T-shirt messages. I offered up several dozen I had encountered through the years in all the catalogs that come to our house. Turns out many of you have your own favorites and you sent them along.
Here are some of the best:
From Ted J., a T-shirt spotted at a Coast Guard post exchange: Support your local Coast Guard - Get Lost.
From Denny B.: Don't Steal. The government hates the competition.
Also from Denny: Warranty not valid when exposed to beer.
From John B.: If a man is alone in the forest and no woman is around, is he still wrong?
From Dorothea B.: Jesus Saves. Jesus is tired. Save yourself.
(Which reminds me of a T-shirt I saw many years ago in a hockey shop: Jesus saves, but Gretzky scores on the rebound.)
From Jim R., a suggestion that I get a T-shirt that says simply I'm Stupid, so I can wear it alongside my wife when she's wearing her I'm With Stupid T-shirt. Thanks Jim, you're a great judge of character.
From Ralph J.: Don't forget my senior discount.
From Arthur I.: I read everything but can't remember anything.
Also from Arthur: Don't look in the mirror in the morning if you want to have a nice day.
From Sam M.: Hang around. I enjoy being alone.
Sam called that the ultimate insult on a T-shirt. It's not bad, but I think the submission of Howard S. is even better: Home Skooled.
Howard's recollection is that the department store chain which offered it had to pull the shirts because of the flak. But what's the point of a good T-shirt if nobody's offended?
However, the best T-shirt message submitted by readers came from Sharon R. of Henderson, Nev. She spotted it years ago on the beach boardwalk in Santa Cruz, Calif.:
Better to have loved and lost than to have gone to Des Moines with that idiot.
Good one, Sharon. At least it didn't say Toledo.45.26232 -69.01249