It's amazing how many thoughts you can process in the nanosecond required to click on an email.
Had the Trumps mistakenly considered me a supporter? After all, I once paid Donald Trump to appear on my television show, Candid Camera. Had his son been given the task of meeting with me to discuss TV coverage of the campaign? Did they want me to pull a hidden-camera trick on Hillary Clinton?
The letter began, "How would you like to meet me in New York City for lunch?" More nano thoughts: Would this occur in public where I could be seen in the company of a Trump? Would Eric pick up the tab?
The letter went on to say, "Your contribution of $3 today automatically enters your name for a chance to get an insider tour of my father's campaign headquarters inside Trump Tower."
Grr. I'd been spammed by GOP junk mail! The "invitation" said "contribute" and "donate" six times.
Gotta give those crafty Trumps credit. They had me going. But, wait! There's more...
Scrolling through vast blank space below the letter eventually revealed fine print disclosing: "No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win."
Nano thought: How cool would it be if an undocumented immigrant entered without sending money, and won! More fine print: "open only to U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents."
The Official Rules state that in order to find one lucky person to eat lunch with Eric Trump, 50 names will be chosen at random and those people will be subject to background checks, after which the field will be reduced to three possible winners and, finally, one winner whose "range of views, backgrounds and interests" will be vetted by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.
Less than 24 hours later I received an email from "Alex," a cute Trump operative (I know she's cute because she was kind enough to attach a color photo).
Alex writes: "I'm the one who will be scheduling the winner's travel plans and lunch with Eric. This is an exciting opportunity – and I hope I get to call you with good news!"
Then Donald Trump wrote: "Eric is going to call me after the lunch to tell me what you had to say about the direction of our campaign."
Meanwhile, I've been getting nonstop emails offering signed copies of Trump's book in return for a $184 donation, one pitching a signed bumper sticker for $100, and another offering a "personalized yard sign" for $50.
It's worth noting that both presidential campaigns are relentless e-mailers, and each has offered a meeting or lunch or other come-on in hopes of getting more donations.
I received an email from Tim Kaine with the personalized subject line: "I'd love to meet you, Peter." It's pretty much the same scam: donate for a chance to win (although – whisper, whisper – you don't really have to give money).
Trump's no-frills prize is coach-class air travel for two, one night in New York and lunch with Eric. The Trumps intend to write-off an "approximate retail value" of $2,000.
Final nano thought: Writing this probably ruins my chances with Eric. His Official Rules state that engaging "in any conduct that is detrimental or unfair" to Trump's committee, may result in disqualification.
As I see it, that makes me a winner.
(c) Peter Funt. Distributed by Cagle syndicate.