When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's... Gak.

Yes. Gak. The latest word in love. Well. Not really love. Marriage. Well, not really marriage. Bliss. Marital bliss. Maintaining it, that is. Which is where Gak comes in.

Gak is a new phrase for when a wife confronts her husband over a credit card bill for Internet porn. "Gak!" goes the husband. "That's not mine! We're being swindled! Someone has our credit card!"

At which point the sympathetic wife, bolstered by her love for her husband and her concern over their financial future, calls the credit card company and demands that the fraudulent charges be removed. And the credit card company not wanting to lose customers immediately obliges. Until now.

American Express, citing millions of dollars in disputed fees, announced that it is no longer accepting transactions from any adult site.

The Gak factor, it says, is too high.

"We've examined the digital adult content industry," a spokesman said, "and there was an unacceptably high incidence of disputes." (By the way, don't you love that phrase? "Digital adult content industry"? So much nicer than "smut.") The thing is, this isn't about fraud. And it isn't about credit cards.

It's about getting caught.

Getting caught with dirty pictures is as old as, well, dirty pictures. I'm pretty sure somewhere back in ancient Egypt, there was a guy in his cave, checking out the risqu & #233; hieroglyphics, and the wife yells down: "Ramses! What are you doing?" and he quickly throws sand at the wall and says, "Me? What? Nothing!"

(Or remember Woody Allen's movie "Bananas," when he tries to purchase a smutty magazine by burying it in a bunch of serious periodicals? Only when the clerk rings them up, he can't find a price on the dirty one, so he waves it and yells, "Hey, Al! How much is Orgasm?")

Now, I must confess, I have never been into the whole Internet porn thing. First of all, I'm in the word business. Do you know how hard it is for me to take something called HotBabes.com seriously?

Also, I'm embarrassed. Not by nudity. By my computer skills. I am so bad with the mouse, I am liable to think I'm clicking to some beautiful blonde and wind up on a farm animal. With my luck, an armadillo.

But obviously, a lot of guys are heavily into the heavy breathing. Estimates are that online porn is a billion-dollar industry.

Except when it comes to paying. Then, all of a sudden, nobody uses it. In fact, so many men deny they did any nasty clicking "Me? What? Nothing!" that Amex is turning its back on a ton of money. And how often does a credit card company do that?

Naturally, the porn business is upset. In fact, members of the Adult Internet Trade Association formed a lobbying group for better treatment from credit card companies.

"It is imperative that the adult community band together," an industry member said. Funny. I thought "adult community" meant people mature enough not to titter over dirty pictures. But the porn industry has always been inventive.

These are the folks who gave you brown paper wrapping. They also steal reputable Web site addresses, hoping you will accidentally surf them, which is why clicking on TheLoneRanger.com could mean shots of Trigger you never dreamed of.

So I was not surprised that a certain XXX company has already come up with an alternative to using Amex.

The answer? Adult Internet cards. They work like phone cards. You buy them at a store, and they give you a certain number of minutes. When the minutes are used up, you toss out the card and there is no tracing them. Problem solved.

Never mind that the bigger problem why men need to smother themselves with porn is not addressed.

All this industry really cares about is that the men keep clicking, and the guilt goes away. No more Gak.

Or as they say in the computer biz, Wham, bam, thank you, RAM.

Mitch Albom is the author of the best-selling book, "Tuesdays With Morrie."

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