The most exciting thing about the changeover from December 31 to January 1 is the flow of SMSes that accompanies it. Among the many text messages I received on New Year’s Day was the following, reproduced exactly as it appeared on my handset screen:
“I wish the SUN to WARM U, MOON to CHARM U, ANGEL so nothing can HARM U, LAUGHTER to CHEER U, True FRIENDS near U, & GOD to hear U.”
This message is problematic on many levels. First, the completely random use of capitalised letters. The pattern is okay until the “laughter to cheer you” bit, but after this why is “friends” capitalised whereas “true” is not? And what’s with the pariah treatment given to “near” and “hear”, though they serve more or less the same function as “warm”, “charm”, “harm” and “cheer”?
Also, how can laughter cheer u (you)? Shouldn’t it be the other way round – that is, something cheers you up and this in turn begets laughter. And how disrespectful is it to use an ampersand just before “God”? (Just asking - I don't know.)
However, what really brings a discordant note into the reading experience is that though this SMS is written in the broad style of a nursery-school poem, “warm” doesn’t rhyme with “charm” and “harm”. Is it so difficult to find words that sound alike? This greeting would have been so much more harmonious if it had read, for instance: “I want the Moon to charm you, minions to ‘Salaam’ you, Prozacs to becalm you, Egyptians to embalm you.” (In fact, this was the reply I sent.) It would have created a nice little melody inside the recipient’s mind and kept him entertained for the few seconds before he deleted it.
In other words, if you must use random verb arrangements that don’t mean anything, try to make them rhyme.
It’s much harder to deal with the relatively restrained SMSes, the ones that don’t say anything obviously absurd. For example: “Best wishes for a prosperous 2008 to you and your family!” I usually take the simple route of ignoring these wet blankets unless they happen to be personally addressed to me (as opposed to Send Alls), in which case I reply with a sinisterly terse, “And to you.”
But the most stimulating New Year SMSes are the ones that freely use words like “resplendent” and "bountiful" and make multiple references to flowers, rivers, sunshine and mountains. Such messages are excellent because they allow you to engage in complementary nonsense prose. For example, when someone writes "May blooming flowers be everywhere and may you be as tall as mountains", I immediately reply with something like: "May flowering bloomers dot each day of the magically munificent year ahead. May the mountains bring Mohammed to you and may all the rivers run resplendently. May effulgent sunshine shine all over your bountiful person."
I sent a few of these on the night of the 31st. The recipients were probably too drunk or stupid to read them through properly or understand the spirit in which they were written, and it’s possible that they blindly forwarded them to other people. So if you received one such, you know where it all began.