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Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Paper Napkin

One night, while messing around on the web, I happened upon a link to The Paper Napkin Email Rejection Service.

I'm not sure how I found it. Possibly it was once a Daily Link on BBSpot.com - a "satire" site which used to really be pretty funny, then got political and not funny. It's back to being a little funny, sometimes; but in my opinion, it still hasn't come back.

Eh, maybe it's just me.

But that's beside the point. We were talking about papernapkin.

The site describes the service - so go read it, and ignore me, if you're really interested - but the short version is: if you send the site email, the site mails back a form-letter rejection.

In theory, this is useful not so much to you as it is to some else who finds you scary or creepy. They can just give you an email address - any address - of the form address@papernapkin.net, pretending that it's theirs. Later, if you try to continue the romance via email, the papernapkin site replies with the form-letter, automatically rejecting you for them.

I thought the idea was clever enough - a cute, only-on-the-web kind of idea. But what really caught my attention was a request by the site owner. He already had a rejection letter, but he wanted to a better one, so he asked people to submit replacement candidates for his approval.

You do see the irony, don't you?

I couldn't help myself. I banged out a note and sent it in, fully expecting to the obvious result - a nasty rejection letter.

Imagine my surprise when instead the site owner wrote back, and said that he loved my letter, and wanted to use it! I think he fixed a typo or two, but other than that, the letter stayed pretty much as I wrote it, and started being emailed to world's clueless Romeos and Juliettes.

Even more amazing to me: as of this writing, my letter's still there. I wrote the thing back in August, 2004 - six months ago now - and whole time the site has continued to solicit for even better rejection notes. But somehow my little letter has managed to hold on.

What really gets me, though, is this: If you google my name (i.e., "solarrhino"), you'll see a few items: this blog, the handful of slashdot comments that didn't get modded down into oblivion, and some posts on various other forums. But of the remaining items - the ones that other people wrote - the only writing of mine that you see mentioned is - you guessed it - the Paper Napkin rejection letter.

So a rejection letter that I hammer out in two minutes finds at least some small acceptance in this big wide world, while emails, postings, and essays that I really care about are just lost in the void.

It's not that I'm all torn up about it. It's nice, of course, that anything I've written had been noticed. I do find it ironic... but I like irony.

It just happened to cross my mind today, and, since I should be busy doing more important things, I decided to write about it. After all, isn't that what a blog is for?

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