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Fools' First Loves: Miva

Nothing magic about the first
They say you never forget your first time. I don't believe that.

I can barely remember my first time. I think it involved Fannie, or maybe Freddie, and there might have been a Harley mixed in there. Actually, scratch that.

Now I remember. The first time, I was a lot younger. I think I was 11 or 12.

How could I forget? I've got the evidence hanging on the wall of my old bedroom at my parents' place. It's framed right there for everyone to see, next to my buck-toothed fifth-grade school photo and my autographed pictures from the Apollo 11 crew.

It's that old dividend check from Engelhard. That was the first stock I ever bought. Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM  ) -- or was it Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE  ) ? -- came later, some time after college. Same with Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HDI  ) .

The real heartbreaker
So what if there were a few muddled precursors to that first love? The time I remember, really remember, was when I found a hottie called Miva (Nasdaq: MIVA  ) . I met her through the newspaper, believe it or not. Back then, she still had the dowdy financial wardrobe (flowered skirts, librarian glasses, etc.) of a dot-bomb survivor, but I thought I could see what she looked like underneath all that, and I was really jazzed.

Back then, Miva was called, and she was in the click biz -- sort of like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is now, but this was before Google showed up at the dance and made everyone else look like a mud hen. Back then, there were still plenty of pay-to-play click operators working the dance floor -- your Overtures, etc., working an Internet ballroom that had yet to be divided and conquered by the likes of Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , Google, and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) .

When I met Miva, most of the other fellows didn't bother asking for her number. But I knew hidden beauty when I saw it, or so my urges said. She had plenty of money in the bank, and she was growing in places no one else cared to look. Within a few months of getting involved, others did begin to notice, and she had taken me from six and change to up over $12. I thought I was in love, but I soon learned the difference between a stock you can love and one that just excites your baser instincts.

When competition started getting the best of her, she started to get kind of ugly. I decided it was time to say goodbye. For a while, I regretted it. I stalked her every day, watching the charts, ruing her success. For months, I could hear her mocking me as she breezed by $20, other guys in tow. It drove me insane.

For a while.

Until, finally, it didn't. Look at her now, battered and broken, a good deal less attractive than when I first picked her up all those years ago. She has trouble keeping hold of a man(ager), can't keep her books straight, and has even begun the process of selling herself out to the highest bidder, if any bidder would even have her now.

Nowadays, I just feel sorry for her.

The difference between love and lust
Don't get me wrong -- I still go looking for love in the market, but I search in better places, and I demand that beauty be more than skin-deep. Remember, those hot assets have a way of heading south with age. I've seen it happen with Miva, and a few dozen other stocks since then.

That's why I seek reliable stocks, underappreciated beauties that are left behind while everyone else is out there chasing Miva. (By the way, this is the kind of true love we look for every month in Motley Fool Inside Value, which you can try for free.)

As for Miva, I wish her well enough, but it's too late to look back. I've outgrown that whole scene.

Take a look at the rest of today's package:

Seth Jaysonhas many sad tales. At the time of publication, he held shares of Microsoft but of no other stocks mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profilehere. Fannie Mae and Microsoft are Inside Value recommendations. Fool rules are here.

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