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Re: Fw: FW: FW: FW: FW: Don’t Mess With Texas! WOW! THIS ONE’S FOR THE BOOKS – SCORCH!
Fw: PLEASE SHARE !! The Luck of the Irish

are the subjects of actual emails I’ve received from my dad.

Where to begin? The capitalization? Punctuation? Typos? The editorial comments? How about the hard evidence that one of these has been forwarded at least six times?

And yet, as a dutiful daughter, I feel bound to open each and every one.

Growing up, I came down to many a breakfast with a news clipping from The Star Ledger beside my plate. My mom supplied nutrition for the body… my dad? Nutrition for the mind. His short current event stories were the CliffsNotes supplements to my dreaded mandatory CNN-watching throughout middle school. A story about internal medicine surfaced not long after I told my dad about watching Lorenzo’s Oil in 9th grade Biology. And so on.

My favorite cutouts hailed from Parade Magazine, the glossless accompaniment to Sunday’s Ledger—excepting those from the advice column “Ask Marilyn,” that smug, self-righteous hag with the highest IQ in the world.

These suggested readings from my old man were the offline predecessor to the emailed article, and, while I can’t say I enjoyed or even appreciated them, at least I tolerated them. Certainly I respected the practice.

It is this legacy as a conscientious daughter and student that underscores my most masochistic habit. It is how I find myself, now in 2016, opening an email entitled FW: FW: ***SNOPES CONFIRMED*** the REAL meaning of E Pluribus Unum.

OK, I’ll bite.



Illuminati?  Red flag.  Let’s head over to Snopes to find out just what they ***CONFIRMED***.


Oh, Dad.

It puzzles me, not that one would, indeed, have a curiosity around “E Pluribus Unum.” If I think about it, I’ve probably Googled it on my own volition, as part of a heated debate, fireside, after three glasses of Pinot Noir.

But to actually go forth and email a transcript of the conversation, to a party outside of the interlocutors in the moment? Doubtful. Even less so if I hadn’t fact-checked it to >💯% certainty.

What is the opposite of E Pluribus Unum? Because that precisely describes my father’s email patterns. Receive one, distribute to many.  In a dead language, no less.

To paraphrase,


So why and how do these emails propagate, seemingly in perpetuity? You’ll have to ask him… if you’re brave enough to send correspondence to a vortex with no “opt out” button.

CAN-SPAM be damned! In his mind, my dad adheres to a valiant code. Believing his sister to be the origin of many of these email forwards (then again, is there even an origin on these things?), I once called to grump, “Da-addddddd… now Aunt Marian has my email addresssssss.”

His answer was firm and fast. “No.  I always BCC and delete the sent from information.”

Fair enough, father.

The content of his emails also seems to follow a code of sorts. New Jersey pride. Engineering feats. Gratitude for servicemen and women. That’s why the jingoism and right wing extremism caught me by surprise the first eleven times emails of that sort detonated in my inbox.

Leave it to my sister to put a freeze on those.

Re: FW: hope and change
CC: Jillian


This is completely unacceptable.  

Please don’t send me any volatile, ignorant, and Jim Crow-evoking material ever again. I’m truly upset that you think this is worth circulating to anyone. Have some respect for the President, or short of that, at least for the Office. 

My dad, historically more Atticus Finch than Attica prison guard, responded to say that he agreed with Kelaine; this was an inflammatory email, unworthy of the binary code that wrote it. He only passed it along so we, as thoughtful participants in society, would be mindful of the things that others out there are saying.

Does forwarding an email imply accordance? I had always thought so, but I suppose not. It is this profundity that underscores why I continue to read the suspect emails my dad sends.

We do get a break when he knows we’re on vacation. When he has a day off… well, that’s another story. In fact, the volume and frequency is almost scientific proof of my dad’s holiday schedule. In came the subject lines,

! George Carlin is Rolling over in his grave
WhY yOu ShOuLd NeVeR pOsT pHoToS tO sOciAL mEdiA
FW: FW: (no subject) PLEASE READ

in rapid—also rabid succession—interrupted my phone’s GPS map application, a visual MAYDAY phantom-screaming overtop my screen. It was fine, I was only changing lanes on I-287, going a cool speed that may or may not have been the last two digits of that very interstate.

And then… I knew what to do.

“Yeah, hi Jillian.” His characteristic greeting.
“Are you off today or something?”
“Yeah, why?”
“Well, no reason, I was just driving to an account and I got three emails from you one after another, and, well, I missed a turn because I was trying to use the GPS on my phone—“
“What do you mean?”
“Well, just that all my emails come to my phone, which, you know, I use for business too, and GPS, and—“
“So you mean when I send you emails they—“
“They appear over whatever application I’m using and sometimes when I’m driving they become a distr—“

“DISTRACTION? Say no more, fam.”

And while he probably didn’t say that last part, he may as well have, because my use of that “that D” was how I would finally manage my subscription to my father’s email forwards.

It worked until it didn’t.

Maybe he forgot about our conversation that day. Maybe he remembered, but decided it was more important to promulgate the gospel of the email forward. Perhaps he gave it no thought at all—I dunno. I do know that after a brief suspension, I was right back where I started, receiving emails such as FWD: Wear ur Seatbelt.

Realistically, I could use an email-sorting algorithm to separate the wheat from the chaff chafe. Or I could take a page from Kelaine’s Kindle and just junk all of them. But he’s my dad, and I feel beholden to at least open each email he sends. And every now and again there is the rare piece of wisdom in a vast field of weeds.

RE: FW: ¸•🍀•.¸¸.•🍀•.¸ IrIsH pRoVeRbS ¸•🍀•.¸¸.•🍀•.¸

And just maybe the lesson is stay engaged long enough to find the four-leaf clover.

Jillian Conochan

Jillian Conochan is a professional amateur; writing and editing just happen to be two current pursuits. Opinion range: strong to DNGAF.

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