I confess, I love getting junk mail. Okay, maybe love is a strong word, but I do find the stuff a damned sight more entertaining than the usual bills, bills, bills in my box. It's often useful, as in those great two-for-one pizza coupons, or something from the pantyhose of the month club. Sometimes it's little free samples of detergent, pumpkin colored self-tanning cream, or fanciful shampoo that promises to make my hair luster with the best of them. Other times it's informative, letting me know who's running for re-election, because God knows, I couldn't find that stuff out in the newspaper... and then often, it just makes me laugh. I especially like the junk mail addressed to Occupant or Resident -- it gives me that extra special sense of belonging; a satisfied assurance that all the rent money I shell out has somehow amounted to this great moment when I can take pride in receiving samples from the Men's Hairclub of the Month.

But junk EMAIL is another story altogether. It never offers me anything free, there's nary a picture nor graphic and it clogs up my box with get rich quick schemes that sound suspiciously like the 10,000 Pyramid... I HATE anything that smatters of gameshows.

They even have a cutesy name for junk email, "Spam." I don't know who thought this one up or why they imagined naming junk email after a canned processed meat product a good idea, other than it can be turned into a verb, as in "Stop SPAMMING Me," which conjures up a mighty fine Animal House image but other than that, seems quite useless. They could've called junk email "Jello" or "Mighty Fine Pudding" for that matter, though I guess "Stop Pudding Me" sounds a bit Elmer Fudesque and I wouldn't even stretch to try to turn Jello into a verb, so I suppose we're all just stuck with the whole Spam thing... but I digress.

Waking up to a box full of junk Email or SPAM is akin to getting roused from sleep at 8am by a telemarketter who calls me "Ma'am" and reads from some tired script about a product he or she has probably never seen, but somehow thinks because I'm on the other end of the phone, I'll whip out my Amex card from under my pillow and buy, buy, BUY! Unless they're offering a free cup of coffee to be delivered pronto, I think anyone who calls before noon should DIE DIE DIE and find telemarketters the least likely people to ever get on MY Christmas list or garner one ounce of my sympathy. The guy in the hotdog suit passing out flyers on 47th street gets it... telemarketters and SPAMers (God, is that an adjective?) don't.

I'd be more apt to buy something from the home shopping network than a telemarketter or from something I received in my email box.

That said, I would like to devote this column to the rare and exotic piece of junk Email that really catches my attention.

This month's entry, goes to the people at the Svetlana Agency, who for some bizarre reason, thought to send me some handy Information for Mail Order Brides from Russia.

You'll noticed the email claims to be information I requested, which I didn't... and is addressed "Dear Sir." So basically they're lying and insulting me right off the bat. A great marketting technique... I bet those Mail Order Russian Women are just flying off the shelves with this one.

To: Bluesy@bluesy.com
From: Svetlana.@Agency
Subject: The Info You Requested

Dear Sir,

We are pleased to know you are interested in The Svetlana Agency. To know the address of one lady costs $10.00. Monthly correspondence with one lady via our e-mail costs $30.00, regardless of the number of letters. We offered our gentlemen-clients to enter for free our catalogue. We would like to give you the information, concerning all services by our company.

The Svetlana Agency is a contact service introducing Russian women to men from all over the world. We maintain a catalogue of ladies - all of them living in the St Petersburg area and eager to meet foreigners. Get to know these ladies and let The Svetlana Agency arrange a tailored visit to lovely St Petersburg, Russia's Imperial Capital.

We are uniquely qualified to help you meet the right woman and to show them one of the most exciting cities in the world. Our experinced staff interviews and screens all applicants by gathering information about her background, character, personality and expectations. This, combined with our awareness of behavioural and cultural differences, allows us to advise and guide you through the introduction process and avoid misunderstandings. We also have a gentlemen catalogue, if you have a wish to be enlisted in our catalogue, please, send us your photos by regular mail.

Hmm... so if I were a guy, I could get a woman's email address for ten bucks, or get some unlimited hot Russian PenPal action for thirty bucks a month... not a bad deal, considering these chicks are "Eager to meet foreigners." I noticed they also have a gentlemen catalogue, so if I ever get tired of the New York dating scene and want to settle down, I can get me a Mail Order Groom. Hmm, maybe my mother put me on this list after all. Let's read on, shall we...

The chances of having the girl of your dreams show up at your doorstep is pretty slim. We recommend that you come to Saint-Petersburg and have the chance to meet a wide range of prospective mates. Find the time - this is an important step in life.

Wow, the girl of your dreams DOESN'T show up on your doorstep? Well, they did say the chance was slim, but that doesn't mean it's not possible. I know I, myself have sat on many a man's doorstep... unfortunately, he just got himself a nice deadbolt, but maybe he didn't realize what an important step in his life this all was. Gee, these people are pretty insightful. Maybe they have a licensed therapist on call too. But if I were a guy looking for Ms. Right, I might have a few questions ... whoops, looks like they thought of that too.

The Svetlana Agency
Frequently Asked Questions

1. More and more European and American men are finding Russian wives. Why marry a Russian woman?

Russian women are unique in the world. They possess a strength of spirit combined with a delicate femininity that sets them apart from the so-called "liberated" women in the west. Most are quite family oriented and perfectly happy to devote themselves to their man and his family's needs. They are romantic and believe in love and the pleasures of raising a family. It goes without saying that the western stereo-types of the fat and ugly Russian peasant woman are completely wrong. Nowhere else on the planet can one find such a variety of beautiful, educated and devoted young women.

Gee, guys... looks like you'll get yourselves a real catch here. Don't mess with us "Liberated" womenfolk, go for the real Stepford item. These chicks believe in love, family, they're not fat or ugly, they're educated and devoted... to YOU. And they only require 6 double AA batteries, a little oil change every 6 miles... I wonder if the air pump is included. Maybe that's answered in one of the other FAQ's.

2. Why would a Russian woman want to marry a foreigner and not a Russian man? Is she just out to improve her financial situation? Suprisingly, 99% of our clients are sincere in their desire to find the right man. It is nonsense to think that financial security in such a marriage is the most important thing and most of our ladies are financially secure here. This size of one's bank account is less important here than in the west where people are by nature more materialistic and loyalty to her man is a common trait.

Russian men are dificult for Russian women for two main reasons. The first being that due to the daily economic realities of modern Russia our men now are too much interested in business and carreers. They are busy 24 hours a day. In a fast moving city like St Petersburg, to practically all Russian men family life doesn't exist - career, money, and friends rule their lives. Most Russian women are looking for mutual understanding and unity and not only physical but also spiritual.

Secondly, in Russia early marriages are very common. Most young men get married from 19-20 years old and to find a man of 25 without a wife and kids is rare. Added to this is that older Russian men belong to a totally different generation (the Soviet Union) and are unattractive to young women. In fact many young girls (20-22 years old) dream of finding an older husband who understands them.

So let me get this straight, these are cheap, needy, young chicks who want old guys without money or a job. Boy, such a deal... I say we set up some government fund for these women, ship them out here, maybe build them a nice island or a theme park... Wait a minute, maybe this is how they Michael Cricton got the idea for Jurassic Park! Does HE have a mail order Russian Bride and was just trying to tell us all something? This seems worth investigating.

3. We hear so many negative things about Russia in the media with stories about the mafia murders and crime. Is it safe to visit St Petersburg, Russia?

Lets begin by saying that the media has blown the whole situation way out of proportion. During the Soviet era, this was one of the safest places in the world. Street crime was virtually unknown and people walked the streets of all hours of the night without fear of violence or robbery. The social changes in Russia have brought rising crime but this is still nowhere near the level of large European or American cities and violent crimes against foreigners are very rare. Sure, in comparison to the way things used to be, things are pretty bad - but still better than Paris or Berlin and much safer than LA or New York.

Wait a gosh darn minute! Russia is safer than LA or New York. Hey, maybe I should move there. I wonder if St. Petersberg has rent control.

4. I've heard about or had bad experiences with other similar agencies? How is the Svetlana Agency better than other services?

The main thing that sets us apart is our location here in St Petersburg. With the Svetlana Agency, you are assured of meeting the right lady for you. We are right here at the source - not cheesy middlemen dealing with photographs in an album - we personally meet and interview every lady in our catalogue and once we get to know you, we are uniquely qualified to suggest the right choices and ladies we think you might hit it off with.

I see, instead of a cheesy middleman you get your own personal Russian Yenta to handle the details. I wonder what those qualifications are, and if these people go to Yenta school? You know, that doesn't sound like such a terrible occupation. I've fixed people up in my day and some are even still speaking to me... MAYBE I could... Nah. Then I'd have to eat borscht and wait in line for toilet paper probably. I hate cold soup, especially if it's flourescent and I won't even wait in line for the movies, unless it's a Tom Cruise picture.

5. I have no time to come to Russia. Could a selected lady come to me?

The chances of having the girl of your dreams show up at your doorstep is pretty slim. We recommend that you come to St Petersburg and have the chance to meet a wide range of prospective mates. Find the time - this is an important step in life.

Do I need new contact lenses or didn't I just read that? Okay, so we now know the girl of your dreams won't pop up at the door with suitcases and a squeegie. I know you're dissappointed, but you'll live.

And again with the "Come to St. Petersburg"... I'm starting to think this is really sponsored by the St. Petersburg Tourism Council. I'll bet a group of guys got together and tried to come up with some way to get more Americans visiting their fine city and this was it. Pretty inventive. This junk email definitely gets points for creativity, loses points for tact and on the Bluesy scale of 1 to 10, I say, thumbs dislocated.

Interactive Note: If you have a piece of junk email YOU'D like to share, send it to PUDDING@bluesy.com. I aim to be pleased (filthy western woman that I am), but I will share.