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An Extraordinary Email for a Very Special Boy
Nonfiction. A week-long escapade into the supernatural, spam, scams, and the stars, I guess?
‘I have seen you in my dreams. The stars are aligned in your favour. You are a special person. This is our secret and your privacy matters. My email can accidentally be delivered to your spam folder, but I do not belong there.’
It is not an extraordinary Monday, I’ll tell you that for free. It’s overcast. Someone somewhere down the street is whipper-snippering. There’s cars, many cars, moving in thick, reluctant streams along roads that just yesterday seemed so bright and free. It’s Bin Day tomorrow and already preparations are in place. Clocks tick slowly. Everything is Hard Work and grey. Morning alarms eviscerate R.E.M. cocoons and my soft and warm dreams die a million deaths before they—
Jesus. Sorry. Look. It’s just a Monday, okay? You know what Mondays feel like.
At 11:06 a.m. my phone vibrates for an email with the subject heading: Angus Macdonald: What I have to tell you could change your life.
And it might be just an ordinary, overcast, subastral Monday, and I might in general be a pretty ordinary and overcast and subastral kind of guy, but I know a special email when I see one. Click.
In a weird way, the use of my full name is kind of disarming. And the fact that this obvious piece of spam has snuck into my main inbox marked ‘Important’ really works in its favour. I give it the benefit of significant logical and spiritual (and internet security) doubt. Click.
On the other side I’m met by a medium called Amanda, who operates from a clearly fake facebook messenger chat window and explains that destiny has brought us together. Amanda tells me I’ve been in her dreams. Her dreams. And then we’re off, and the astral visions start coming thick and fast. It’s a blitzkrieg of psychic hunches: A positive change is ahead; The stars are aligned in your favour; I see a woman with brown hair near you; You are a special person too; What is your email address?
And what is life but a series of harmless clicks that very quickly get away from us? Mid-morning on a grey, unextraordinary Monday, lacking any kind of permeable meaning in my day, or really in my life in general, I find myself quite willingly giving the Medium Amanda my email information. A confirmation link comes straight away. I hover my mouse over it. And well hey, like I said, I know a special email when I see one. Click.
‘In the coming period everything that comes on your path can lead to a fine and beautiful result. Wealth, love, friendships. I see that you have much more potential. Potential you are not using right now. Isn’t that a shame?’
Medium Amanda’s first reading arrives at 6:28 p.m., and not a moment too soon. I’ve been drifting all day, without purpose, through a typically suburban, subastral Tuesday; we will measure our life in Bin Days. Thank the stars that Amanda has come to breathe (via email) some meaning into it all.
The reading is very long and aesthetically resembles my own blog posts, which is a bummer. There’s a healthy smattering of poor syntax, repetition and basic typos throughout, but that would be a pretty pretentious reason not to trust a person’s psychic powers so I let them slide. The main takeaways are:
I am special. Very special. This is one of Medium Amanda’s most central motifs.
Amanda can sense that I am misunderstood, unlucky, heartbroken and facing adversity. She saw a tall figure near me. She sensed the letter B.
While Amanda is offering this vague but very long vision for free—out of a sense of psychic duty towards my uniquely special case—what she really wants is to give me more. To go deeper into the astral planes on my behalf. And she wants me to prove to her, by way of my credit card information, that I am serious about this process.
Though I do know tall figures with the letter B in their name, this first reading isn’t quite enough for me to offer up my deets. Not even for the heavily discounted, limited-time offer of $77 AUD.
At the top of the website is a picture of the Medium Amanda: a smiling, middle-aged blond woman, glowing against a blue sky, looking very omniscient indeed. Omniscient and maybe also omnipresent, because a reverse image search reveals her face all over the internet. Amanda is a stock photo. Available for purchase. But this also seems a pretentious reason not to trust a person’s psychic powers. And who else will provide me with much-needed spiritual nourishment throughout these interminable weekdays? So yeah. I’ll hang around. Read on, Amanda.
‘I see that you are very special judging from your date of birth and your zodiac sign. The stars are averting and they are shifting their focus. I see two events in my vision that will change your life. One of them is winning a huge amount of money. This is a highly sensitive and confidential document.’
Wednesday: our old nemesis. Hump day. A day when purpose is important, when a sense of cosmic meaning can sheerly will you up and over the hill. And as I set about my journey upwards, I am galvanised, egged on, kicked up the ass by my latest reading. It arrives in the mid-morning and it bears good news.
Amanda says, ‘your lucky number will be number 7 during this turbulent time. If you take the right decision this number will ensure that you win an enormous amount of money.’ Exactly €37,770, according to Amanda. Woah. Even with some conversion fees this is more than $60,000 AUD. Better have double dose of your prescription nasal spray, buddy, because that kind of money is not to be sneezed at.
But, alas, there is also bad news. I mean you can’t have a bunch of Up and not expect a little Down. It’s Give and Take, this stuff—Amanda tells me that there are evil forces are at work. They want to steal my money, change my fortunes, and make fun of me for having prescription nasal spray. She didn’t mention that last one but I inferred it from context. It’s going to be okay, though. Since I’m so special, Amanda has kindly cooked up a ritual to neutralise these threats, and is willing to perform it on my behalf. For money. For 60 of my finest Australian dollars to be exact.
It really seems like Good and Evil are going head-to-head in my personal astral plane. Pretty good. Am I a little disappointed that instead of emailing me deep and personally applicable cosmic truths Amanda seems mainly concerned about money? About winning it, losing it, investing it? Sometimes in euros, other times in Australian dollars? Sure. A little. But her emails bring a slice of mystic, metaphysical magic to these otherwise pointless, repetitive weekdays. And it’s just nice to feel special. To be sought out. To be told that there really is some meaning Out There, perhaps some meaning just for me.
The sun sets on hump day and the stars come out and burn. They just look like a billion billion shining freckles to me. Scattered. Patternless. There’s no discernible dollar-signs burning Up Above, as far as my mortal eyes can see.
“The results are astonishing. Slowly I see the stars moving position. The alignment of the stars that is ahead, together with the state of your finances will turn the tide. I am warning you, someone in your surroundings does not have your best interests at heart.”
Thursday is a realistic kind of day. It’s a good fit between Wednesday and Friday, I reckon. Pragmatic. Upbeat but not carried away. It makes sense where it is in the weekly schematic: it’s a day for revelations.
My next reading arrives around midday. Amanda lays out my future for me thus:
“...you [are] living in a different house, you own a different car, and most of all I see you are finally feeling good about yourself. I saw the exact moment you found out about it: you were in front of the television, filled with anticipation with the lottery numbers in your hand. The numbers were written in the stars and I gave them to you personally. Slowly, the numbers are announced. Your eyes widen. You can hardly believe it! You were so very sceptical about the numbers I gave you and now, one by one, they appear on the screen. You jump for joy and your life will never be the same again. Suddenly, clouds appeared, I was sucked away from the beautiful vision... All of a sudden I woke up and the candles I had lit had gone out. I instantly turned to my tarot cards to see what was wrong exactly. I pulled the following card: Death.”
A lot to unpack. While I’ve been preparing for my European lottery victory for at least a day, this is the first I’ve heard that maybe I'm going to die? It’s alarming, no doubt, but I shouldn’t be afraid. Because why? I think you know. Yes, Amanda is willing to perform a secret special ritual to eradicate the threat of death and guarantee the financial prosperity of my aura. She will of course perform this ritual for money:
As I said, Thursday is a day for revelations. You can’t think deeply about the meaning of the cosmos with an overcast Monday brain, nor on Bin Day, nor Hump Day, and by Friday it’ll all seem a bit too serious—so today’s the day it’s gotta be.
With my Thursday brain I can really finally get that Amanda’s eyes are probably as mortal as mine. And the constellations she’s “reading from” aren’t cosmic phenomena, they’re not naturally occurring. The constellations were drawn—like Connect the Dots on hard mode—by human beings like you and me. Astrology divvies up the cosmos into digestible shapes: animals, weapons, gods we don’t believe in anymore. Amanda wants to impose two-dimensional shapes and logic on the immense three-dimensional reality of outer space. But she can’t! No one can. There’s no ready-made, pre-written meaning Out There—no lottery numbers waiting to be plucked and no secret messages for very special boys. The billions of billions of starts just are. And it all just is.
A fear of a lack of meaning is a very debilitating and profitable thing. It keeps stock photos like Amanda in business.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in 2019, Australians reported losing $452,811 to psychic and clairvoyant scams. The full, unreported figure is unquantifiable without help from the astral plane. The ACCC reports that all kinds of people have been swindled in all kinds of ways, but a quarter of these confidence tricks are done by email. It’s not such a hard trap to fall into, really. All you need is to want to be special, a weaker-than-you-thought spam filter, and a deep down inside need for the immense, chaotic universe to have a sense of meaning that it empirically doesn’t have. I think every human being might meet these criteria. Well, I do. Do you?
“From up above my spirit guides have led me to the answer to your main problem. If you are truly ready for a life of plenty, I would like to ask you to prove it to me. In order for you to earn money, a small investment is required. I know you still have limited funds at this time, so I will offer you a large discount today.”
The sun shines on a beautiful Friday morning and all the world seems temperate and bright. It’s crisp. Light. TGIF, buddy! Saturday is on its way.
Amanda’s email arrives at 11:28 a.m. and it’s by and large the same spiel. I’m special, I’m going to win money, I’m maybe in danger, so on and whatever. Ugh. I hover my mouse over the unsubscribe button and I reflect with my Friday sensibility. And well, all that Meaning of Life stuff seems a little too serious for a gorgeous day like this. Who needs it? Leave it to the professionals or the Ancient Greeks or whatever. I feel great! I feel an energy, a oneness with all living things, shining inside me like a sun. Oh, what a day! It’s a real belter. And it’s going to be this way all weekend, if you can believe the BOM’s pseudoscience. Man. Yeah. Spirit guides, ha. ‘A life of plenty’—you better believe it mate, the weekend’s practically here! And so what else is there to do? Unsubscribe? Yeah. Click.
You really can float on a day like this Friday. My bones feel full of helium and inside and outside of me is bright. And so I do. Float. Right up to the stars where, I guess, all of this began.