The Modern Man's Guide to Shopping for Valentine's Day

All right so we got Valentine's Day coming up fast and ya gotta get your
sweetheart a gift or else you're gonna be in the doghouse until next
year.  You don't want to go to the mall and stand in line behind a
hundred other guys when you would rather be watchin' the game on the
tube so here's what you do.

Power up your modem and logon to the Net.  Cruise onto the Web and fire
up your Search Engine.  Now you're ready to go shopping the easy way but
first you gotta figure out what you're looking for and you gotta key in
your Search Argument, which should look something like this.  "I need
some flowers."  --  "OK, OK,"  --  "AND, a box a candy."  Now click on
Search and, -- wait.  You've got some time on your hands now because
it's gonna take forever to download the 42,000 entries for all of the
valentine's websites that just went into business yesterday so I suggest
that you use this time wisely to prepare yourself for what's going to
happen to you next.  Jam a blues CD into the stereo then go to the
kitchen and pop open a cold one.  Believe me, your gonna need it.  Scan
down through the list of precisely targeted websites until you find one
that says "Valentines R Us", then take a deep breath and click on it.
Oh no, you've done it now.  Alarms go off at the website as Bernie the
webmaster calls to his wife in the living room and says "Hey Betty,
we've got a live one, we'll be able to buy that new car you wanted."
Then Betty says "Great, don't let him get away and don't forget to check
him out with the credit bureau while he's browsing through the catalog."

Now you have some more time to kill while the network takes over control
of your computer.  First, the webserver contacts your local county
courthouse and puts a property lean on your hard drive.  Then it tries
to scarf up every square inch of disk space you've got by downloading
links to every website in the world plus a few that just came in from
the andromeda galaxy.  If that doesn't do it then it starts loading down
the entire contents of the national archives, just in case you're
interested.  Then finally, the home page appears on your screen and you
can tell right away it was worth the wait because it's so tastefully
designed.  There's a pink background with hearts and flowers and 25
little half naked cherubs with deadly, blood dripping bows and arrows,
all pointed directly at you.  At the top of the page there's a banner
that says "Welcome to Roxanne's Romantic Emporium" and right below that
there's a box that says "If you have a credit card with at least a
thousand dollars of available credit, then come on in.  Otherwise, get
outta here and go chew up someone else's bandwidth, you deadbeat."

At the bottom of the homepage it says 'Click here to order or click
there to browse through the catalog," so you grit your teeth and click
on "browse" which causes the server to download the latest 36 volumes of
the federal budget.  A half hour later you finally see the catalog page
appear which says, "We got flowers and we got candy and if you don't
place an order within thirty seconds, your monitor will blow up."  You
check your pulse and click on "order" which causes Bernie the webmaster
to call his accountant looking for another tax shelter, but this time
the order screen pops up in 15 milliseconds.

Filling out the order form is like walking through a mine field.  If you
were smart, you would turn around and run like the wind.  The mall is
starting to look better all the time but you can't go now because the
Lakers are only up by two points at the half and your bookie set the
point spread at ten so you're stuck in front of the tube.  You might as
well keep going, so here's how to fill out the order form.

They're gonna want your name and address, and of course, the ever
coveted credit card number.  You might notice, after you have entered
your number, that it does not appear on the screen.  That's because the
webserver sucked it down as fast as you could key it in.  They don't
want that little gold mine getting away.  But you're not finished yet.
They also want your home phone number, your work number and the number
of the bar down the street where you hang out after work on Thursdays.
They need your mother's maiden name, your father's maiden name, and the
name of the old maid that lives next door.  Then it gets personal.  What
was your high school grade point average?  Did you get lucky and have
sex before you were twenty three years old?  And, oh yea, how many times
a week do you change your shorts?  Now it's time to choose the items
that you wanna purchase so click on the box that says "gimme the
flowers."  Then click on the box that says "Yea, Yea, gimme some candy

Now the form is complete so with your trembling hand, go and click on
"Send Order."  This causes the webserver to contact Bernie's travel
agent and make reservations for Hawaii.  In the meantime, you just
realized that you have no idea how much this shopping trip is gonna
cost, but Bernie is way ahead of you.  As he pushes the custom installed
"gotcha" button on his keyboard, a box pops up on your screen that says,
"Hi, this is Roxanne.  We cannot estimate the cost of your purchase at
this time because we don't know if the plane tickets to Hawaii are for
first class or coach but we'll bill you accordingly.  Since we'll be
gone for two weeks, your purchase may arrive a little late for
Valentines Day but I'm sure your sweetheart will be understanding when
you don't give her anything, and you'll have a romantic evening anyway,
just like we will."

All you can do now is hope that the Lakers do better in the second half.

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