Because I’m not a technology expert, what I know about the Internet can be summed up in two words: smuggler’s paradise.
Like a tunnel dug beneath the border between two countries, the Internet is a pipeline for all my special goodies—from heavenly hand-rolled cigars to chocolates to die for—all at discounted prices. I can’t say that I feel very guilty about these conveniences; the illicit nature of my black-market goods has more to do with trade restrictions or wifely prohibitions than with any truly dangerous or illegal nature of the booty itself.
For example, among the most wonderful and perfectly harmless prizes “smuggled” to me through the Web are song lyrics. Having grown up with the musical explosions of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, I, along with two out of every three American teenagers in that era, took up the guitar.
But to get the chords and lyrics for any of the hits I heard on my transistor radio, I had to place a mail order for a printed musical score and wait a week or two, a nuisance that, I tell my grandchildren, was likely the only reason I never got around to cutting my own platinum album.
I still have my trusty “ax” today, and if I’m feeling nostalgic and want to plunk out “Blue Lagoon,” or want to learn to play Bruce Springsteen’s latest ballad, I need only click on a site like MusicNotes.com, and for a small download fee (minuscule compared with the cost for shipping and hard copies) I’ll be crooning from my “smuggled” sheet music in mere seconds.
Over coffee at Hardee’s on Saturday mornings, when one of the boys brags about the bag of gourmet Italian roasted beans he recently purchased at Starbucks, or another carps about the fortune he pays for heartworm pills for his Labrador retriever, I can assure them every time, and in my most hushed and conspiratorial tone of voice: “I can get it for probably half that.”
“Let’s just say, I got a connection.”
The AARP Bulletin’s "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and publish some of our favorites in print and online. David McGrath is a reader from Port Charlotte, Fla.