A reader sent in a question that sums up our moment in time: Is it safe to give a restaurant gift certificate for a Valentine's Day gift, given that the restaurant might not be around by the time you use it?

It's an interesting dilemma, but it's far from a new one. How many times have you gone to use a gift certificate, and there's a crater because a meteor hit the place? Exactly. ("I thought that was just me!" you say. No, happens all the time. We lose between 30 and 45 Applebee's to meteors annually.)

Why, you ask, would you give your spouse a gift certificate to Applebee's? Nothing against the place, but it's not exactly romantic, unless you met there and fell in love on that exciting night when a meteor took out the Denny's down the street and you had to wait on all the firemen. But in general, no, Valentine's Day calls for someplace special and intimate and, perhaps, French, like Pomme d'Abeille.

Anyway, I bought my wife a washer-dryer combo. "Oooh-la-la," you say, "you rake! You rogue, you scalawag! There's a lad who knows how to keep the spark alive! Nothing says romance like metal boxes devoted entirely to domestic drudgery."

Oh, settle down. It wasn't intended as a gift. It was a necessity because the old washing machine had an important part perish and became incontinent. The repairman informed me in hushed tones that the dryer — well, it's like those couples you read about who've been married 50 years, and he dies, and, you know.

She lives another 20 years, and when interviewed by the newspapers, attributes her longevity to a daily glass of whiskey? That's what will happen to the dryer?

"No, one goes, and the other goes, too," the repairman explained. "What I'm trying to tell you is that the mate of your washing machine has a weak drum mount, and after 16 years that's to be expected."

So I bought a new washer-dryer mated pair, and also told my wife that if I keeled over she should have the doc check her drum mount.

The good thing? The new machines connect to the internet, which means that the washing machine probably has a "privacy policy" that permits the company to collect information on the strength of the elastic in our underwear and send us pertinent ads on Facebook.

Wife was less than enthused, but I explained the benefits. You can download an app, which she won't do, and you can get text notifications when the laundry is done, in case that dinging sound in the basement is a complete mystery. And get this: You can download different washing routines for different types of garments! Say you have a jacket made of yak fur and ostrich feathers — it'll find the right combination of temperatures and water!

My wife's lack of excitement for downloading custom washing machine programs could be described as "auditioning for Mount Rushmore," but that exaggerates her facial animation.

What I really want is a washing machine with an internet-connected camera so it detects the red sock you put in the white load and alerts you in a text. I'm not saying I did that when I was trying out the machine. Not at all. Just saying that pink is a Valentine's Day color, right?

All the towels are wonderfully seasonal now.