Bidding on eBay isn't good for the old tick-tick-ticker

September 04, 2006|By KEVIN COWHERD

The tension was almost unbearable.

Emotionally, you go from the lowest lows to the highest highs and back again, howling and cursing at a glowing 19-inch monitor, palms sweating, wondering why you put yourself through all this.

That's right, I just made my first buy on eBay.

How do I feel?

I'll tell you how I feel.

I feel like I need a drink.

And it's only 10 in the morning.

The item purchased, by the way, was a gently used 460-cc Nike driver. I was looking for a new driver because, like many other golfers, I am delusional.

This is not a bad thing to be when you play this stupid game.

Somehow, I had convinced myself that a new driver would save me at least a half-dozen strokes per round. Only I wasn't about to go into Dick's or Mammoth Golf or one of those places and hand those criminals $300 or so to get one.

No way. I'd sooner set myself on fire.

So I turned to eBay.

Since this was my first time using "The World's Online Marketplace," I enlisted the help of my oldest son, who is 24 and sees himself as the Obi-Wan Kenobi of eBay, the calm, savvy Jedi Master of all buying and trading.

Right. The kid almost drove me nuts.

And the reason he almost drove me nuts was his, ahem, "eBay philosophy," which is to ignore all the bidding by the rest of the riff-raff and only put in a bid yourself at the last minute.

So here we were with an hour to go before the bidding closes, staring at the computer screen.

The price for the Nike driver was going up and up.

It passed $60, then $70, then $80.

And what we were doing was this: Nothing.

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Instead, Obi-Wan Kenobi was leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his neck, taking in the whole thing with a serene look on his face.

"Shouldn't we do something?" I kept saying.

"Like what?" he'd say.

"Like, I don't know, bid."

But he'd just shake his head and give me that all-knowing smile, the Jedi Master, working his magic.

(If you're not familiar with eBay bidding - and that might be a good thing for your mental health - it's done auction-style.

(You enter the maximum amount you're willing to pay, and the bidding increases incrementally until, oh, the top of your head blows off.)

Anyway, with the minutes ticking down, I found myself, for some reason, having a small nervous breakdown - mainly because the Jedi Master seemed to be taking a Jedi Nap on me.

But finally, with exactly one minute left in the bidding and with hands poised over the keyboard, the kid said quietly: "It's showtime."

Then he furiously typed in our maximum amount and clicked on "Confirm Bid."

Now for about 45 seconds, we just stared at the screen. And let me tell you something: It was a lo-o-o-ng 45 seconds, at least for me.

The Jedi Master, on the other hand, seemed loose and confident, breaking into a huge smile.

"Can you feel it?!" he crowed, rubbing his hands together. "That's the eBay rush, baby!"

Me, I don't think I was feeling the eBay rush.

I was feeling something more like the eBay coronary coming on.

As the seconds ticked down, all these crazy thoughts ran through my head:

Did we get it?! Oh, God, we're not going to get it! Some loser in North Dakota is going to get my driver, and he doesn't even really WANT the damn thing!

He'll use it once and send his drive so deep in the woods Daniel Boone couldn't find it, and he'll curse and snap the club in half over his knee and. ... Suddenly a message popped up on the screen: "Congratulations, the item is yours. Please pay now!"

Our winning price: $103. Plus $15 for shipping.

I could have kissed the Jedi Master. And I would have, except he says he's too old for that now.

Right now, I think I'm going to lie down for a while.

Tomorrow, the Jedi Master says, he'll help me get a new putter on eBay.

But I'm not sure I'll be up for that just yet.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

To hear podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun.com/cowherd.

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