Sure, Valentine’s Day may have given way to March Madness, and April showers aren’t far away. But is there ever a wrong time for holiday shopping? Of course not. Take a peek at “1-800,” in which our hero Jason Lowell starts out looking for one thing and ends up finding something far more exciting.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, Jason has to find the perfect gift for his perfect fiancée, the beautiful, sexy Kate. But where will he find a present worthy of the love of his life? A bit of afternoon channel surfing, meant to stimulate his thoughts, leads to a home shopping network right out of his wildest fantasies. Before long, he’s stimulated in all the right ways! But will he find the gift Kate’s wanted all her life? Or will he be too distracted by the live product demonstrations?
To the untrained eye it would appear that Jason was watching a basketball game in his basement man cave. But he knew he was looking for a Valentine’s Day present.
Sure, most other guys would actually look for a present in a more obvious place. The internet came immediately to mind, jam-packed with so many “Best Presents to Get Your Woman” lists that the websites had to find some way to make them all unique. One list was written by women. Another was written by a call girl. He had a feeling neither of those was entirely accurate, at least not for his purposes.
He could always just ask what she wanted. Kate wasn’t the sort to presume he was reading her mind, primarily because he had failed to do it so many times during the early months of their relationship. What she wanted most, she said, was reliability, even if that meant just asking her for advice. Still, something in him, some ancient provider gene that had survived eons of evolution, wanted to come through for her without any help.
Of course, there were the old standbys: chocolate, flowers, jewelry, what have you. He’d never met the woman who disliked flowers, and he brought them home every so often just to make her smile. He knew she liked chocolates, the darker the better, but if they were in the house his waistline would suffer for it. As for jewelry, well, the only jewel she wore regularly was the diamond he’d put on her finger this past Christmas.
So none of the standbys would prove interesting. He liked being interesting, but it put a lot of pressure on a guy.
In their time together he had usually been successful in getting her just the right thing. His secret was a simple one. He knew immediately that she was not an ordinary woman, so he didn’t bother with ordinary gifts. His friends had all mocked him for the unorthodox ideas. The ornate hardbound edition of Jane Eyre with a hand-painted bookmark at each chapter. The cute little tasseled earplugs for the years with her obnoxious roommate. A heart-shaped infuser for her tea. His friends had gone on and on about his “weird ideas.” But in the end, those guys hadn’t been interesting, and he still was. So there.
So far the commercials had been for beer (not really a present), another kind of beer (see above), a pizza with two kinds of bacon and six kinds of cheese (almost lunch time), diamonds (already got one), and a $45,000 luxury car. He’d watched this ad with her before. She’d taken one look at the car racing down a dark street and scoffed. “Oh, look at us!” she said scornfully. “We have money!” Then she’d flipped off the elegant woman in the passenger seat with one hand, and her smug-looking husband with the other.
No luxury car. Not that he could afford one.
The game started again with a slow-motion replay of North Carolina’s tiny little point guard driving right through Virginia’s entire defense for a layup. He groaned and reached for the remote. If he was going to shop for gift ideas, he could at least find a better game.
His thumb flicked the channel up button with practiced ease, and programs flashed by in a blur. First up was an even worse ball game. Law & Order. Chick flick. Predator movie. Two women in their underwear, giggling into the camera. Hogan’s Heroes.
Whoa whoa whoa.
He flicked back to the ladies in lingerie.
A blonde dressed in a red bra and panties stood next to an olive-skinned beauty wearing a merry widow. He loved the phrase merry widow. Ever since he’d first seen it, in the bathroom with a Victoria’s Secret catalog about a million years ago, he’d committed it and the luscious form it was wrapped around, to his memory.
The girl in red waved at the camera. “Hi!” she said. “I’m Cassidy.”
Merry widow waved. “And I’m Marissa.”
Then, in unison, they announced, “And this is…The Toy Box!”
The two of them put their arms around each other’s shoulders and tittered like this was going to be the most exciting television show in the world. He put the remote on the table.
“We’d like to welcome you to the Valentine’s edition of the most popular show on the Shop From Home Channel,” said Cassidy.
“But these toys are for grown-up boys and girls,” said Marissa. “So if you’re under eighteen, you need to change the channel.”
They stood there and giggled some more.
Come on, kiddies. Change the damn channel.
“All right, then,” said Marissa. “Now we’re ready to show you some awesome gifts that are sure to spice up your special day.”
This was probably going to be something lame, like crotchless panties or a cake pan shaped like a dick. But he kept watching. Just to be sure. Until one of those games turned around.
“Why don’t we get this party started with one of our most popular goodies?” asked Marissa. “Cassidy?”
“This is our Little Giant,” Cassidy said. She held up her hand, one finger extended as if she were pointing at the ceiling. She had a little gizmo on her fingertip that looked for all the world like one of those little vibrators. “It’s a great present for a special someone you might like to know a little better.”
“I’ll take some calls while you give us a demo, Cassidy,” said Marissa.
A demo. Like the people in TV Land needed her to show them where the on switch was. Actually, he and Kate had gotten a toy once where the button was hidden in the—
Cassidy had walked to the back of the set, where she tucked her thumbs into the waistband of those festive red panties and pulled them down, bending at her waist and supplying just the right amount of jiggle. Then she hopped up onto a chaise longue and spread her legs, bending them at the knee. Jason felt his mouth drop open.
What the hell channel is this?