Instant gratification

Valentine's Day is here! I myself am expecting a pirate's chest full of rubies and pearls, part ownership in the Cadbury company and an actual, still-beating human heart wrapped in tasteful paper designed by Martha Stewart. I suppose I'd better get my lazy ass in gear and acquire a boyfriend.

Because of my trashy, lurid, whorehouse taste, Valentine's Day appeals to me purely for the cheap, red foil hearts that decorate everything from restaurants to headstones this time of year. But everyone knows that whether you are a single rose such as myself or you are more locked into your relationship than a couple of Siamese twins, Valentine's Day is a nuisance. Like a period, it shows up regularly and too often, causes mood swings, chocolate consumption and tension for everyone nearby. And like a period, it's bloody nonsense.

Valentine's Day also has the power to make single people feel bad about being single, but that power is decreasing dramatically, especially since technology has made us less dependent on other people for the one thing they're good for: sexual satisfaction.

Advances in technology

On the low, almost rotary end of techno-thrills, there's phone sex, which allows guys a form of contact they would have previously had to get from hookers, and allows women who look like Marge Schott the opportunity to talk dirty all day and get paid for it. Then there are vibrators, whose quality is going up while the stigma is going down. As more women take advantage of this option, more of them will be able to date guys, not for sexual satisfaction but for the right reason: They're rich.

Computers, also, are not the chilly, austere HALs we thought they were going to be. They're sexual yentas, hooking up people in ways no one dreamed possible 100 years ago. A hundred years from now, who can possibly imagine all the new and better ways there will be to get off?

I can! And so can the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, which reported that several patients using the antidepressant drug chlomipramine had orgasms every time they yawned. One female patient's depression symptoms disappeared within 10 days. (I'd have thought 10 minutes. Boy, did she know how to milk a good thing.)

Finally science has discovered something that sleazoids, male and female, have known all along: Orgasms make you happy. That's all we need, all we ever needed. Hopefully everyone can throw away their Prozac and Zoloft and get some of these orgasm pills. Hopefully someone will throw a big barrel full of them into the water supply.

There are all kinds of interesting things to consider about this prospect. Under what circumstances would you get something like this prescribed to you? Would you have to be clinically depressed or just frownie? Could you take it in public? Would manual climax become like manual shifting -- only for those who like "the feel of it" and "the control you get" ? There's a raft of warning-label possibilities: "While taking this medication do not hold babies or hot coffee, negotiate deals, or be seen or heard." Offices would have to send their chlomipramine-taking workers outside the building for orgasm breaks the way they do with smokers; the practice would dismay the workers, but give a helluva chuckle to everyone driving by.

Moan guarantee

What circumstances would your insurance company deem appropriate enough to pay for your orgasm pills? If you slipped one into the insurance guy's coffee, he'd probably sign off on it and whatever else you put in front of him. Would people make chlomipramine brownies and take them in to work before big meetings? Precious little work would get done, but likely no one would care.

A drug this desirable could support a pretty brisk black-market trade. What if you got a knock-off? Maybe you'd just get mildly happy, or the wrong parts of your body would convulse, producing half-hour sneezing fits or spastic feet.

Finally, how common would overdoses be? They probably would lead to monklike serenity or catatonia, or maybe your nether regions would just explode. Certainly if the result was death -- coming and going at the same time -- this would become the preferred form of doing away with one's self. Could assisted suicide become something you could win from MTV for you and 20 friends?

I can't wait to get these things, and not just for me. I'm going to leave them on the coffee table like party mints, then sit back and amuse myself while making friends and strangers happy in ways that would heretofore have required much more effort. What a wonderful world it will be when anybody can be made that happy and absolutely nobody will have to touch them to take them there.

And what a boon to self-sufficiency. With a prescription and a glass of water, you won't need to rely on anyone else. And every day can be Valentine's Day.

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