Monday, December 1, 2008
The Genius Bar
Fate is cruel. I think we can all agree on this one thing, before I move on. Mostly cruel, especially when one considers withering illness, global politics, death and taxes -- all of which are as unavoidable as Fate, and are therefore part of Fate.
I, a writer and a single mother (one son, Pablo, ten), am at this moment sitting atop a barstool at the Genius Bar at my local Mac Store. (The Genius Bar. I wonder how much money someone made to think of that, instead of Customer Service. I'm thinking about a million dollars and a team of six creatives, two of whom were actively disengaged.) My laptop, an iBook G4, is cursed; it is a gypsy curse. It involves a great deal of mystery and importunate timing; that's how I know gypsies were involved. Gypsies or witches.
Within the past ten weeks, my laptop has had everything replaced; it was physically gone for a week in Memphis, Tennessee. And now it refuses to function, despite the fact that literally every part was replaced except the top cover and the plug.
A beige man with short dreads and a seasoned look is manning the Genius Bar. He checks his list of Genius Bar appointments and says,
"Is there a Bud?"
Buds do own computers. This in itself may well be information well worth the trip and time spent, which I am beginning to think may be in vain as far as my computer being fixed before I must pick up my son at school. Every minute the aura of the Genius Bar becomes more jagged; at exactly 2:55 PM, a gaggle of teenagers clutching iphones and ipods rush to the fore.
More people cluster worriedly around the Genius Bar, pressing me forward onto the counter. It's like that scene in It's a Wonderful Life when the Bailey Building and Loan bank is on a run and the whole town becomes an anxious sweaty mob grabbing for what's been promised them. And Jimmy Stewart is running around telling everyone to calm down. Just calm down.
Jimmy Stewart is not at the Genius Bar. He's dead (see: Fate).
Now the man next to me is drumming his fingers. Great, a finger drummer. Next I'll get a whistler. My mother used to attract dwarves with shopping carts. I swear to GOD.
Here comes Bud to the Genius Bar, and people look on him with envy and a kind of hatred. Bud told me earlier that he had an appointment; he came here and immediately signed on a computer for a 2:55 appointment. People named Bud are known to be practical. He doesn't even have his computer with him, that's how efficient Bud is. He has a list of questions.
When Bud told me this, much earlier, I sashayed to the row of computers and I made an appointment for 4:55 with the secret Apple Store clipboard man. I am gleeful. It may even be before then, he said.
Now it’s a good feeling, just sitting at the Genius Bar. They have wisely installed wide barstools. People are used to sitting at bars; bars are safe, bars are good. If you squint, it's a pub. Lots of time can go by inside bars without anything happening. Yes, bars and barstools are an excellent choice.
"Why do they make those little CDs if no one can USE them?" The customer, a man in black turtleneck, is angry. He has a problem they cannot solve. His whole system is out of date, like a dodo bird. He walks the walk of the dejected as he leaves.
So now we all know: it's not really the Genius Bar. It’s the Just Okay bar.
If this were a real Genius Bar, I would have arrived equipped with a list of questions, as did Bud. Let's say there's a limit of ten. Ten questions.
1. Why was I born?
2. What happens when you die? Is there a Hell or is there nothing. Within reason, I would prefer a Hell. Hell I could understand; I’ve waitressed for lunatics, written ads for panty shields, and experienced hours of labor contractions one right the fuck after the other. Nothingness, however, terrifies me. I want to still exist, even if it means Hell. (In real life, I tell my son that I believe in Heaven, but if I am wicked honest, I don't. I feel it has a high probability of being a publicity stunt.)
3. Why did my marriage really end?
4. Can time be moved backward? I'd like that option.
5. Do the people I hate know it? I want them to.
6. Do the people I irrationally love know it? How can I make some of them un-know it?
7. What's the square root of one million?
8. How many holes are there in an average colander?
9. Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?
10. Will I ever have another huge, death-defying love affair, or am I sentenced to an eventual Mojave celibacy, along with its accompanying sense of being a rock-person, and not a really thorough woman.
Meanwhile, back at the Genius Bar, they actually do fix my problem (or what you see now is only my Immediate Problem.) My Genius Bar man wears a plain black long sleeve shirt that may be Helmut Lang, and two very sleek, scientific looking necklaces around his neck; possibly the keys to the entire Mac universe. The key to my deliverance from evil.
Another customer, this one with a short cruel hairdo and big ass diamonds in her ears appears to my right. She bears a look of a nurse at an emergency ward, a mask of concerned fatigue. I sense she has not a computer glitch, but is afflicted with matters of life and death. No little SHIFT keys slightly loose, no slow connections, no -- everything in her vista is crashing into a meteor of destruction and heartache.
God. I’m done, and I am so glad to be free. And I alone was spared -- that's the feeling.
As I slip from my barstool I hear a full-grown man talking in a high, quavery voice.
"It's the blinking question mark." He's practically weeping.
The Genius Bar is open.