is on my tail again.
online auction is
winding down to a close -- four minutes/seventeen seconds left to go,
last time I hit the refresh button -- and I see that she has once again
managed to inch past me in the bidding. It's maddening. All week long,
I've been riding this auction virtually unchallenged ... the lone
player on the field, no opposition to speak of, confident of certain
victory, yadda yadda yadda ... but at the last minute, this annoying
interloper has insinuated herself into the action. She appeared this
afternoon, out of nowhere, and immediately doubled my bid. We've been
at war ever since. Now every time I check on the auction, I find that
she's snaked me again, usually by some ridiculous, illogical,
picayune amount. Frantically, I type in an incremental increase --
I see your forty-three cents, suzanne1656, and I raise you a buck
sixty-two and a half-eaten Cherry Newton
-- and I hit the "Bid" button.
I minimize the
browser window and return to my soil density reports.
This is my virgin foray
into the world of eBay buying and selling. I've goofed around on the
eBay website occasionally, over the years, performing random
recreational searches for lunchboxes and Liddle Kiddles and Five Man
Electrical Band albums. But until now, I've never found anything
wanted badly enough to actually bid on. The registration process has
always struck me as unnecessarily complicated: it's worse than the DMV.
The one time I attempted to navigate through the labyrinth of forms and
passwords and legal disclaimers in order to register, I gave up
halfway through in complete frustration. But the main reason I've
avoided eBay, all these years -- the real deterrent, beneath all of the
phony-baloney excuses -- has been plain old garden-variety fear. I was
afraid of getting hooked. I know myself, and I know how my little
muddled addict's brain works. I was afraid that all it would take is
one successful auction -- one mint-condition Beany & Cecil
lunchbox, purchased for a song on a rainy Saturday afternoon -- and the
next thing you know, I would be parked in front of the computer 24/7
again, frittering away the grocery money on lunchboxes and Liddle
Kiddles and Five Man Electrical Band albums.
fact, I probably
would have been content to steer clear of bidding on eBay forever --
keeping my sanity AND my savings account intact -- until last weekend,
when I was running a routine Internet search for a product I'm
interested in. The search led me to a seller on eBay. As a matter of
fact, it led me to several
sellers on eBay, one of whom had the exact product I was looking
for ... brand-new, still in the box, for
relatively cheap. In other words: not only did eBay actually have
something that I wanted ...
they had something I
wanted very badly.
registered my new
eBay account, right there on the spot. It took two pots of coffee
half a Saturday afternoon, but I managed to get all the way through
the registration process this time. I bookmarked the item I was
interested in. Even though the auction had already started by the time
I arrived on the scene, I followed David's advice and didn't place a
preliminary bid. "Wait until the last day," he said. "Monitor the
auction for a while, decide how high you're willing to go, and start
bidding on the last day." And that's what I've done. At the beginning
of the week I only checked occasionally -- once in the morning and once
in the evening -- just to make sure that the item was still available
(it was) and that there were no challengers on the horizon (there
weren't). Everything was moving along just fine, until suzanne1656
showed up out of the clear blue sky today, with all of her show-offy
stars and icons and smiley faces attached to her user name (denoting
that she is one of the *Cool Kids* on eBay), bolloxing
things up but good.
I hate suzanne1656.
around the office. This entire operation would be a heckuva lot easier
if the auction weren't ending in the middle of a workday ... but what
can you do? This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm not about to
pass up The World's Greatest Deal, simply because I'm stuck sitting
here in the Dirt Company office on a weekday afternoon. (I'm
not worried about getting in trouble, should someone spot me
lollygagging in front of the Internet. We ALL
front of the Internet on slow days like this. I'm worried that they'll
see me lollygagging and figure it means I'm not 'busy' and decide to
unload their personal filing on me.) Once I've made sure that none of
my co-workers are lingering in the lobby, waiting to dump four years'
worth of dusty file folders into my *In* Basket, I bring up the eBay
window and take a quick sneaky peek at the auction. One minute and
eleven seconds left to go ... and no new bids from suzanne1656.
still riding on top.
what exactly IS this
object of desire that the two of us are warring over, you ask? This
Holy Grail of the Internet? This treasure beyond measure?
a fifteen year old
not just any
fifteen year old electric hairsetter.
This is a
Clairol Lock 'n Roll Electric Hairsetter ... possibly the finest
electric hairsetter ever manufactured. *I* should know. I've been using
electric hairsetters for almost 35 years -- every make, model and brand
name under the sun -- and this is the only setter that has ever been
able to do a thing for my fine, limp, overcooked-spaghetti-noodle hair.
The Lock 'n Roll went off the market in the late 80's or early 90's:
you can't even buy replacement rollers for it anymore. The one
I'm using now -- my third Lock 'n Roll -- was a miraculous thrift store
find, several years ago. I paid seven bucks for it at Value Village,
and it has served me well through nearly a decade of Zip Code changes,
marital status changes, lifestyle changes, hair color
changes. Recently, however, the rubber in the rollers has begun to
degrade -- half of them have fallen apart completely, and the rest of
them are hanging by a thread -- and lately I've noticed that the
heating element doesn't seem to get quite as hot as it used to. Plus
the entire hairsetter is shellacked with nearly ten years' worth of
grime and DNA and petrified styling products. I've known for a while
that it was time to replace it, but the idea of replacing it with
anything but another Lock 'n Roll was too depressing to contemplate.
It's like they say:
once you've gone Lock 'n Roll ... you never go back.
obviously feels the same way.
less than a minute
left in the bidding, I decide to go for broke and leave the browser
window wide open, so I can monitor suzanne1656
and watch the final countdown. (If anybody asks, I'll say that I'm
bidding on soil inclinometers.) Tension mounts. Excitement builds. The
suspense is excruciating. Finally -- the fourth or fifth or
thirty-eighth time that I hit the refresh button -- the results are
is now closed," it reads. "The
winner -- by a half-eaten Cherry Newton -- is secraterri."
with reliefm flush with triumph --
suzanne1656! Hope you enjoy setting your hair on RAG ROLLERS!! --
I close the eBay window. As much as I would love to lollygag
further and savor my victory, it's time to unplug from the Internet and
plug back into the soil density reports. Later tonight, when I get home
from work, I'll PayPal my money to the seller and make arrangements for
shipping. Yes, I've just paid four times as much for this hairsetter as
I paid for the last one ... but it's worth it. If all goes according to
plan, I should have a shiny, clean, straight-out-of-the-box Lock 'n
Roll Hairsetter in my hands (and in my hair) by the end of the month.
Then I can ceremoniously trash the old one, right after I
cannibalize the few remaining useable rollers.
got to admit: I'm
very pleased with the way this whole thing has worked out. Obviously I
still have a lot to learn about eBay, and about the bidding process --
you get those all of those show-offy stars and icons and smiley faces
next to your user name, anyway? -- but overall it has been a satisfying
experience. As a matter of fact I'm so
pleased with eBay, I'm thinking that I might go back and place a bid
on that Beany & Cecil lunchbox I saw listed last weekend.
is bidding on it, too. In which case I'll probably just plunk down the
eighty-five bucks, right there on the spot, and be done with it.
to throw a rock?