For those who couldn't get a girl to touch their genitals if a key to a Porsche dangled from their nuts, filling up the free time between waking up in their parents' basement and whacking off to fall asleep becomes Job One. And a new hobby may fill that need.
AOL disk collecting.
During the Bronze Age of the internet, AOL was the most-used conduit between one's 486DX computer and what the hipsters called the Information Superhighway, using their proprietary software. And AOL distributed these CD-ROMs in newspapers, at convenience stores, in restaurants, folded in with the comics in every Sunday newspaper in the universe, dropped from low-flying bombers like war propaganda leaflets, and stuffed in mailboxes every God-damned day via direct mail.
"I like the AOL 5.0 Titanium editions," said 42 year-old collector Gordon "Baby Huey" Meerks, who feels much better about himself now that he is an expert at something, which makes it easier to forget about Angela, the girl who made out with him in a closet during a game of 'Seven Minutes In Heaven' at a MST3K marathon party he attended in 1996, even though Angela denied to everyone at the party that she even touched him. Gordon knew the truth, however: For 6 minutes, 36 seconds, Angela was his.
"The ones that are most collectible are the ones with Bugs Bunny, or cross-marketed with Batman Forever. Stuff like that," contined Meerks, while wiping Krispy Kreme residue onto his 4XL 'Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B A Start: Even God Knows It' T-shirt. "I got a Ren and Stimpy one on eBay for $24.00."
The tragic thing here is that these things have value. Along with Seinfeld quotes, vinyl records and Bill Clinton, those things that were ubitiquous and without value 15 years ago have become worthwhile nostalgia items, especially for those who are not wasting their disposable income on things like condoms or Valentine's Day gifts.
"There are over easily 2,000 different types and styles of AOL CDs, trading for between $1.00 and $50.00," guffawed Meerks, who began sporting a pants-tent after seeing a bus stop ad featuring Kari Byron from Mythbusters.
A search on eBay for AOL CDs confims this: A Harry Potter CD is going for about $2. A lot consisting of seven AOL CDs went for $6.50, with 3 bids. This included 5 Harry Potter CDs and two Flamingo CDs. (With AOL CDs, it seems it's often the funky disc-art that matters most to collectors, and the wilder, the better.)
Some buyers are AOL disk aficionados, and others collect items relating to the person or thing on the disk. For example, some of the most popular listings are for disks that feature golfer Tiger Woods ($5). Foreign versions are also popular. A Mexican AOL disk is going for $5. Tin boxes seem especially popular, as are 3.5" AOL diskettes.
But the Holy Grail of this worthless pastime appears to be an AOL vesion 2.0 on 5.25" AOL floppies.
AOL stopped distributing their mass mailing of CDs as of August 2006, because of backlash from environmental groups who question the wisdom of creating 50 jillion plastic discs, which will eventually spend eternity resisting decomposition in a landfill in Staten Island, NY, and because no one in the cvilized world was using AOL anymore.
Nevertheless, for those of a certain age, AOL discs were as much an unavoidable --and sh-tty-- part of life as Ace of Base songs on the radio. And for those who will never, ever achieve orgasm with someone else in the room, AOL disc collecting may just be the thing that keeps them from abandoning all hope and boring a ventilation channel through their brain with a revolver.
"Perhaps, someday, I'll see Angela again, and maybe she'll like my collection," Meerks concluded. "Right?"