Fate is cruel. I think we can all agree on this one thing before I move on. Mostly cruel. Especially when one considers withering illnesses, rapid aging, death and taxes — all of which are as unavoidable as Fate, and so are therefore part of Fate.
At this exact moment I, a writer and a mother of a certain age (one son, Pablo, six) am sitting on 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, a G-3 iBook, is cursed; it is a gypsy curse. It involves a great deal of mystery and importunate timing, is how I know gypsies were involved. Gypsies or witches.
Within the past ten days, I have just 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.
I didn't intend to begin this way. Story of my life. But this is the deadline, today. And the deadline finds me technologically challenged (read: fucked) and psychically chastened and punished, at the Genius Bar in Marin County. Yes, the Fates have once more intervened to fucketh with me. A brown man with short dreads and a seasoned look is manning the station. He checks his list of appointments and says, "Is there a Bud?"
Buds do own computers. This in itself may well be information worth the trip and the time, which I am beginning to think may be in vain as far as me actually getting my computer fixed before I have to pick up my son at school. More and more people cluster worriedly around the Genius Bar. It's like that scene in It's a Wonderful Life when the Bailey Building and Loan family bank is on a run and the whole town becomes an anxious mob grabbing for their money. And Jimmy Stewart is running around telling everyone to calm down. Just calm down. Jimmy Stewart is not at the Genius Bar. He is nowhere around. 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.
Bud told me earlier that he had an appointment; he came here and signed on for a 1:15 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.
I sashay to the row of computers and I make an appointment for 1:55. I am gleeful. It may even be before then, it said.
There is a good feeling of 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. Squint, and it's a pub. Lots of time can go by inside bars without anything happening. Yes, bars were an excellent choice.
"Why do they make those little CDs if no one can use them?" The man in the 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 it's not really the Genius Bar. It's the Just Okay bar.
Now, if this were a real Genius Bar, I, like Bud, would have come with a list of questions. Let's say there was a limit of ten. Ten questions:
- Why was I born
- What happens when you die? Is there a hell or is there nothing. I would prefer a hell. Hell I could understand. Nothingness would frighten me. I want to still exist, even if it means hell. I tell my son that I believe in heaven, but I don't. I feel it's a publicity stunt.
- Why did my marriage end?
- Can time be moved backward? I'd like that option.
- Do the people I hate know it? I want them to.
- Do the people I love know it? How can I make some of them un-know it? How can I stop them from knowing it?
- What's the square root of two million?
- How many holes are there in an average colander?
- Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?
- Will I ever have another really huge death-defying love affair or am I doomed to eternal celibacy and its accompanying sense of being a rutabaga and not a woman.
Meanwhile, back at the Genius Bar, they actually do fix my problem. My Genius Bar man wears a plain black long sleeve shirt that may be Helmut Lang, and two very scientific sleek looking necklaces around his neck; possibly the keys to the entire Mac universe, the key to my deliverance from evil.
Another woman, 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 look of concerned fatigue. I sense she has not a computer glitch but real matters of life and death here; no little keys just slightly loose, everything in her vista crashing into a meteor of destruction. God. I'm so glad to be free. 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.