Life is short, have an affair.

The subject line of the email got right to the point. There was no question it was junk mail. I had this strange, conflicting set of reactions when it popped up in the list of unread emails: first, disgust at receiving the email at all and second, some admiration for the directness of the subject line.

Once, many years ago when email was new to me, I got a spam message that included an image. Back then, spam filters were fairly crude and mostly worthless and I opened the email from an innocuous sender and generic subject line. I’m no prude but the image that popped up in my feed is still seared into my brain. I can never un-see that picture and believe me, if there was a process like one described in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” that would offer me the chance to erase that memory, I’d take it. It was that bad.

So, I’m a lot more careful now about opening emails. I have a system in place and a much better spam filter. Probably most of us have that. It’s much easier to get rid of sneaky spam. I marvel, though, at the outright junk mail. The best sexy junk mail subject I ever got, I think, advertised, “Hot, Nude, Librarians!” To be honest, I very nearly clicked that out of sheer curiosity. I mean, in case you didn’t know it, getting that Library Science degree takes some doing. I hear it’s no cake walk. You have to give props to “sexy, nude” Librarians, right? Thankfully, the above mentioned previous experience all but cured me of that curious leaning where spam is concerned.

Until now.

The subject line was direct enough to catch my attention. The fact that my junk filter didn’t gray it out was interesting because just one email above this one the spam filter had labeled two other messages as spam, one from Gerber Life Insurance and one from Priceline. Go figure. There were no attachments and it came from what seemed like a fairly legit email address. Though I could recognize that is was, in fact, spam, I had to highlight it to move it to the junk mailbox and report it as such. There wasn’t much to see, just a quick paragraph about housewives looking for sex outside of their marriages, quick trysts, “just for sex” and nothing more.

Online Married Ladies Seek Immediate Offline Boinking*

News flash: More and more women are jumping outside their marriages in search of no-strings-attached sex. All it takes to find a willing partner? An Internet connection and an account on a site like

*And not by their husbands

Please Click Here to unsubscribe.

There was a link to their website and nothing else. No, I didn’t click the link, don’t worry. I’m not interested in having an affair. Which, it seems, according to this “News Flash” puts me into a different category than their intended audience. I was impressed by the asterisk to explain more precisely what they meant by this “boinking” (who even says “boinking” anymore?) and also with the opportunity to “unsubscribe” by clicking on a link, which I declined in favor of reporting it as spam.

Here’s the thing about this email; the subject line made me want to open the email and argue with it and that’s an odd experience to have. “Life is short, have an affair” is quite a command. It implies a lot. I don’t doubt there are a number of women and men who would feel that indeed, if life is short, getting “no strings “boinking” is a goal. I guess after 20 years of marriage and settling squarely into my 40’s I just don’t see that making it to my list of “things to do.”

I’m inclined to revert to a whatever floats yer boat kind of thinking. I’m inclined to just report the spam, have myself a moment of clarity and a brief chuckle, place this one the virtual shelf of head scratching and mildly amusing junk mails I’ve received but it stuck to me today and I try to pay attention to those things. My best reach on why it stuck to me is that it reports a real unraveling of life. It speaks desperation disguised as solution. It feeds into that autonomous, individualistic notion that all I need is to get “mine” and I’ll be fine. “Life is short, have an affair” because why not? What’s the harm?

If you’ve ever known someone who has been in a relationship where one partner has had an affair you may know immediately the fallacy of this thought. If you’ve lived long enough to see marriages break up over it, or not break up but struggle through it, then you know that the two thoughts don’t even belong in the same sentence. I try not to be judgmental, I really do, and yet I cannot think of one instance in which I’d offer this as sound advice. And the reason it felt important to post about it today is that it occurs to me that not everyone has a friend who’d point out the fallacy of this thought. They might believe this, call it “truth” because it feels right someplace not so deep in their psyche.

So for those people who might think there is some truth in “life is short, have an affair” I’d offer some other possibilities before trying that one. Try all of these first and then see where it takes you.

Life is short, love your neighbor.

Life is short, hug your children (mother, father, aunt, friend, grocery store clerk.)

Life is short, wear your seatbelt.

Life is short, read more books.

Life is short, eat delicious food.

Life is short, be mindful of the moment.

Life is short, have integrity.

Life is short.

Choose wisely.