Friday, July 30, 2010

The Perils of Facebook

No, not the usual warnings about privacy and potential employers finding photos of you table-dancing at your sister’s bachelorette party. Bigger stuff than that.

I logged on the other day, and read this cryptic post from my dear former neighbor Judy: Qejpmbv. And, as Edgar Allan Poe would say, only this and nothing more.

Hmmm, I wondered, what is she trying to say?

Maybe it was a new exotic spice she liked in a recipe she got from Martha Stewart. Or a new fruit just being marketed here, fresh from the Brazilian rain forest. Google searches got me nowhere.

I tried to determine whether it might be a mnemonic device for something like “Queen Elizabeth just pilfered my bronze vase.”

Hey, stranger tools have been made up—what about the one we all used to learn the order of the planets? Remember—“My very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas.” (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.) Yes, I went to school when Pluto was still considered a bona fide planet. I guess now (if they teach this stuff at all) they have to say, “My very excellent mother just served us nachos.” Anyhoo, maybe Judy was trying to tell us all something important, but in a very secret code.

So that took me to trying to solve it as a cipher, you know, where each letter stands for another letter. I am pretty good at solving the daily “Cryptoquip” in our newspaper, and to make it more of a challenge, I do it without using the clue, and I do it in my head. But this had no interesting pattern, no repeated letters, and I was pretty much adrift. Judy’s message was not something I could solve. I was defeated.

I checked back for updates, and only found that at 7:52 p.m. her husband had posted, “What does this mean?”

At 10:29 p.m. I posted a white flag, a confession of gross inadequacy, and a plea for help.

At 10:50 p.m. Judy posted the following message: “This means my cell phone must have been in my pocket and the strange message was sent without my knowledge. It means nothing.”

Sigh. I’d like to believe her, but I’d still say we should look for that bronze vase.


  1. Mysteries have way more charm when unsolved.

  2. Queen Elizabeth just parboiled my brother's vegetables.

  3. That's entirely too funny! My friend's daughter got the keyboard one day too. After all the abbreviations now, you never know. There's a great twitter abrev. list published a day or two ago and they are frickin' hilarious. My favorite..AYFKMWTS

  4. Ahh, but think of all the fun you had in the meantime...far more intriguing than any Agatha Christie mystery! I love your mnemonic devices. Oddly, I'm craving nachos and lamenting Pluto's demotion.

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