Gentlemen, be afraid. The end is nigh.

After extensive research in the field of relationships, I have come to the conclusion that we, the male sex, are on our way out.

Several months ago, a friend of mine was confiding to me that he was frightened of lesbianism. I was puzzled by this remark, as he is a reasonably open-minded person and, as far as I knew, had no prejudice against homosexuals. When I asked, he said what frightened him was not the fact that lesbianism existed, but that women would, sooner or later, "figure it out."

In short, he was scared that women would realize they could do without us.

Needless to say, I laughed this off as ridiculous. Surely, I thought, there are reasons women need us. For example, our ability to ... to ... hmm.

So I asked all of my female friends why they had boyfriends, figuring that they would be able to shed light on the topic better than I. After all, they're the ones dating men. They must know why.

Here are some of the responses: "They're warm." "I need someone to open jars and stuff." "How else am I going to get things high on shelves?" "My hands get cold." "This way, I can walk around at night." "He loves me unconditionally." "Heat."

All of which seemed like reasonable answers, until I thought about it. The more I thought, the more scared I became. Was my entire gender really replaceable with fairly simple technology? To hell with taking back our role as head of household, we men were going to have to fight just to stay useful.

In a cold sweat, I called one of the survey subjects and asked her if, given a rubber device to grip jar lids, a stepstool, a firearm and space heater, she could dump her boyfriend.

She thought for a moment and then said no. I breathed a hefty sigh of relief.

She said she liked the affection. And back rubs. My blood ran cold again.

Voice trembling, I asked her, "What if I added a dog and one of those neck massage machine things?"

"Oh," she said. "Yeah, then I really wouldn't need him."

There is no way of describing the horror I felt.

Since that conversation, I've thought about it constantly, with each thought more terrifying than the last. All the questions have answers. There appears to be no reason for women to like or need us.

Companionship? Pets or other women work just as well. Reproduction? There's enough sperm in sperm banks for the rest of time, and to be honest, much of it probably will lead to better offspring than most of us. And, even if there were no sperm reserves today, offering men money to flog their dolphins -- which we will have to do anyway once women quit us for good -- will always bring in customers. Sex? Let's not flatter ourselves here, guys.

No, comrades, there is no saving grace to be found. We'll be voted off the proverbial island, kept around for only second-hand reproductive purposes until genetics research makes us truly outmoded once and for all. Given the speed of technological growth, I'd give that a liberal five years. Add another two for word to spread to the remote parts of the globe, and then the male gender will be an evolutionary necessity no longer.

Seven years until production ends. We are the last generation of a dying breed. Soon, gentlemen, we'll have gone the way of the eight-track - neat for a time but now just silly. We'll be in the company of the New Kids on the Block, leisure suits and the pet rock. We're a flash in the pan, guys, a one-hit wonder, a limited edition.

Ladies, get 'em while they last. Guys, eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may be obsolete.

Greg Heller-LaBelle is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh and the news editor of The Pitt News, the daily campus newspaper where this column originally appeared. Students at the University of Pittsburgh watch the Fox News Channel on their campus cable system.

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