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Facing the fact that Facebook isn't free

Sun Advocate publisher

I looked at the credit card statement as the bright winter snow came down outside my kitchen window.

"What are all these charges?" I asked my wife as she was preparing cream of celery soup for a cold winter's day.

"Those are Facebook charges," she said as she continued to chop up celery for the broth. She didn't even look my way, bat an eye or even act like they were anything out of the ordinary. "Did you find the charge on there you needed?" she asked as she continued on task.

"Yeah, it's right here in the middle of the page," I said kind of astounded by what else was on the page. There was line after line of small charges which had Facebook listed by them. There were also a couple of lines that said Amazon. They were bigger charges. The charge I had been looking for was buried in the middle of what appeared to be an e-commerce directory of companies. As I looked I wasn't getting mad; I was more, well, huffy with a tone of incongruity.

That's me, incongruous.

"I thought all this Facebook stuff was free," I said.

"It is," my wife said as she continued to look down at the long stocks of celery which at by this point I thought she had chopped too many of for an afternoon soup for two. "It's just stuff associated with the games that we play on it."

"We?" I asked.

She stopped chopping and held the knife in her hand and looked at me. I thought I might get my name as a victim on the six o'clock news if I said another thing.

"When you play games on Facebook you can get tools and other things to help you along," she said as she started chopping again. "I utilize some of those."

Well the bill couldn't have added up to more than a few bucks for the month, but suddenly I figured out why Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire many times over. I mean the last time I heard there were something like 800 million people using the service.

Then I ventured farther into the dark jungle that is the tangle of Farmville or whatever it is that she plays.

"So this morning you were telling me that you had earned $2.5 million of funny money on that game you were playing," I said. "Too bad that isn't real money for the investment."

She kept on chopping. Pieces of celery were piled up on the counter where celery should never be.

"I thought you knew," she said.

Again I wasn't mad; in fact I thought it was kind of funny.

"You tell no one about this." she said as she filled the soup pan. "I don't want anyone to know."

This would make good column fodder, I thought, but then I had to decide if I wanted to live to my next birthday. Or more likely to the end of the week.

After dinner one of my wife's friends came over to do her hair. I went out to feed our various animals and as I came back in I looked at her friend as they talked about life in general. It was too tempting. When there was a lull in the conversation I had slipped something in.

"I have a secret," I said to her friend. I could feel my wife's Superman like x-ray vision burning a hole through me.

"Don't you dare!" she said as she sat there unable to move as her friend stuck all this gook on her head.

"What secret?" her friend asked in a sly way.

"I just have a secret," I said.

"What is the secret?" she asked my wife.

Before I could hear anything else that went on I walked out of the house and did some other things. I gazed longingly at the house, wondering if I would ever be able to sleep there again. When I came back in the secret had been revealed and things seemed calm.

"I know your secret," said her friend.

"Oh she told you," I said, kind of self satisfied. I had revealed the truth without really telling it.

"She worked it out of me," said my wife. "You knew she would!"

"Hey those charges are nothing," said her friend pointing to the statement on the kitchen island. "I heard a couple arguing the other day in my neighborhood about how much they had spent on Facebook and it was 10 times more than what's on that bill."

"Are you kidding?" I asked.

She shook her head. And I shook mine too. Unbelievable.

It just goes to show that there is no free lunch, especially if you want dessert.

Nor any completely free Facebook games either.

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