On my desk next to my desk-top computer there’s a box that I’m pretty sure is smirking at me. In the box is a new router and I’m pretty sure that it knows that I don’t know what a router is.

I mean, I know it routs things. I know it somehow takes stuff from the computer, including spam e-mails that can help me cure my acne if I only send a certified check to Nigeria, and distributes it all over the house. I don’t know how it does this, just as I don’t know how music comes out of the radio when I turn it on and how water comes out of the faucet when I turn it on. I am just grateful it isn’t the other way around.

I’d never thought much about the router until I recently found out three things:

  1. You’re supposed to replace a router every three years or at the 30,000-mile mark, whichever comes first.
  2. For the last 17 years, I have apparently been paying the cable company $8 a week to rent a router from them. The amount was buried there in the monthly bill, right after the $11 a month fee I pay for the Bulgarian sewing channel.
  3. My old router no longer works. When it routs stuff, the stuff sometimes only is routed as far as the medicine cabinet in the upstairs bathroom. Although that is where I do much of my work, I consequently can’t find my collection of vintage digital thermometers.

So I decided to get a new router. Knowing the limits of my technical skills, I got the simplest model, the Dual Band Gigabit ADSL+ 2.4 and 5 Ghz wireless modem router and I only wish I was making up that name.

But it is not enough to just buy a router. Apparently, you also have to take it out of the carton and install it. I am considering this.

First, though, you also have to speak the language of acronyms, a language I could never conjugate. Here is more or less exactly what the directions said (parental advisory — these directions include explicit technological language that parents will not be able to understand and will have to ask their children about):

Make certain the ISP had already provided DSL and PPPoE service to you and the BBC.

If you were using the USB connection before using the router, disconnect the USB cable and connect a TCBY Yogurt cable to the WAN port of the router.

Make certain you have disabled or uninstalled other PPPoE dialing up software, otherwise you will not be able to connect to the Internet and your toes will itch.

Now connect the WAN port of the router to the LAN port of your DSL modem with a TCP cable secured by an IOU to Hewlett-Packard.

Connect the DSL Line to the Line port of your DSL modem. Connect your computer to one LAN port of your router or to the NFL.

Count to 10.

Call your kids and tell them you’ll give them dinner if they’ll install the router.