communication breakdown.

I just found this wonderful old email in an archived Inbox, I'm posting it here so that it will never be lost again. The backstory is by now pretty sketchy (14 years later), but hopefully it's more fact than fiction. There's one huge detail that I'm unsure of, but of the two possibilities the version below is the funnier option.


BACKSTORY: So, back in 1998, our Hombre Numero Uno O'Neill was vacationing in San José, Costa Rica with his then-girlfriend now-wife Mayo (visuals here). While there, they became attached to a piece of art in their hotel lobby: a statue of a howler monkey. I know.

Upon returning to Atlanta, they were still thinking about the howler monkey, and soon decided that they might like to acquire a howler monkey statue of their own. Unfortunately, all they had was the artist's name, Tuanis, but no other contact information of any kind.

So O'Neill sent a friendly email to San José 's Minister of Tourism inquiring as to how he might get in touch with this Tuanis character in the interest of purchasing a howler monkey statue of his very own, and in doing so supporting San José's local economy.

What he received in reply was, to say the least, unexpected. I'm working from memory here since the original is lost, but as far as we can remember, the response from San José's Minister of Tourism was:

Tuanis makes coffins for AIDS people. For you to ask about him is like asking about Sodom and Gomorrah. Go with your gay friends and get it on some recipe. 

O'Neill is an extremely polite, well-mannered young man under most circumstances. A few brief exchanges followed, in which the Costa Rican minister's insults became uglier and more homophobic, suggesting that O'Neill had already "gotten it on some recipe" with his "gay friends" and now had AIDS. And that's when O'Neill forwarded me the email below for my approval.


From: O'Neill
To: Mark Morse
Sent: 5/8/98 1:56 PM
Subject: pen pal

The last word -- do I risk international incident and send the

You rude little goat fucker. How are you accessing e-mail? Have you developed a computer that plugs into dirt? Be warned! I am coming to San Jose to burn your cardboard box to the ground. Also, I wore a condom while fucking your mother, so I could not have AIDS, unless your father gave it to me while he was sucking my dick. Have a nice day.


I said, "Go get 'em, Tiger", or something similarly encouraging, and O'Neill pressed the shiny red button. That evening the minister's response was something like:

Ha ha ha. It's funny how I feel nothing when you insult me in a language that is not Spanish.

Enter our Panamanian friend Mary Mary. I immediately sent her O'Neill's English goatfucker email and asked her to give us a Spanish version. She quickly and happily complied, and as far as we could tell, her version was even meaner, using very specific Spanish to assert that the minister was not only a goatfucker with sodomite parents, but also a low-class, uneducated, unwashed Indian. We sent it.

The minister's response was again unexpected: total collapse. I'll try to get the full text of the response eventually, but basically it was a blubbering apology, calling O'Neill a "devil" and coming clean to the fact that the sender was not in fact the Minister of Tourism at all, but his 13-year-old son.

Enter sad trombone music. Now, did we feel a tiny bit bad about email-bludgeoning a 13-year-old boy? Yes. Did he appear to deserve it? My answer is Yes. Did O'Neill ever get his howler monkey statue? No.

Two weeks later, did O'Neill receive a few more even more provocatively insulting emails from me posing as the re-invigorated/unrepentant Costa Rican teen (this is called spoofing), trying to see if I could goad him into another explosive paroxysm of profane creativity? Maybe.


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