The real issue is the phone. I am almost at the end of the contract that binds me to Verizon and to my pink Blackberry Curve. It hasn’t been a bad run; I’ve never had an issue with Verizon aside from their draconian tendency to declare a payment “late” five minutes after it’s due, and I mostly like the Blackberry. It has limits, though, the Blackberry – I would like a bigger screen, faster connections, and the ability to play music from my iTunes library. I have long dreamed of a single device that would replace the Blackberry/iPod Touch combo that I now carry everywhere I go for more than five minutes, and that dream could, of course, be answered by an iPhone. That slender, shiny object has long been the Holy Grail of technology about which I have barely allowed myself to dream; we are a Verizon family, I had A Contract, it was Terribly Expensive. In a world filled with war, poverty and oil spills, it seemed beyond petty to spend time thinking about a phone, even a phone that would play my music, offer me Doodle Jump when my oral surgeon left me in the chair, and allow me to use my index finger to scroll swiftly to the last comment on a post. I do think about it, though, growing faintly fevered as I contemplate the possibilities. No more juggling the Blackberry and the iTouch while driving. No more endless scrolling with the little ball to get to the bottom of a screen. The end of receiving calls asking me if I had intentionally made a phone call when I had, in fact, dialed accidentally through pocket or purse.
The good news is that my husband, himself more interested in the new Droid technology, has figured out that I can leave Verizon, buy an iPhone and start a new relationship with AT & T for a mere $100.00 plus a tiny bump in the monthly bloodletting. The bad news is that the possibility of owning an iPhone has rekindled a deep-seated conflict for which there is no therapeutic treatment. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that I am a Mac person. I am writing this on a Toshiba PC, and I have never actually owned a Mac, but I know in some inexorable way that I should have a sleek, white Apple product on my lap. My husband believes that the whole Apple marketing strategy is aimed at hooking rich, white sheep; he reminds me often of the “Simpson’s” episode in which Lisa gets an iPod and becomes, briefly, a worshiper at the shrine of a thinly veiled Stephen Jobs. Do I want to be one of those sheep, he asks me, using an arguably less good operating system, and one which offers me no real benefits or improvements? I do. I really, really do.
They are beautiful objects, those light, white Macs, and I feel certain that being relieved of my heavy, 17 inch black laptop would be the first step on the path to Technological Enlightenment. I also believe that pulling a Mac out of one’s laptop bag at a coffee shop is like a secret handshake; the other Apple People smile a faint, smug smile and admit you into the inner sanctum. I have bought the “I am a Mac” ads, hook, line and sinker. Macs are for people like me, creative types, liberals, music lovers. They probably come with the home page set to “Salon” or “HuffPo.” Never mind that their allegedly intuitive navigation would actually be more difficult for me after 13 years of using a PC, or that I am unlikely ever to make or edit movies. I am emphatically not the dowdy old guy with glasses; I am the hip, young guy from “Dodgeball” who may be dating Drew Barrymore.
I am a sheep.
My parents, my brother and many of my friends have Macs, and I take every possible opportunity to play with them. I love their lightness, their brightness, the cuteness of the icons. I am dazzled and stricken with envy at the ability to sync everything between Mac and iPhone so that one’s calendar, playlists and documents are available in miniature form. At a local bakery I recently saw a college student studying for finals, her high, round table sporting a MacBook, and iPhone and a pristine cup of coffee. She was maybe 20, lithe and blonde, her hair in one of those casual ponytails that made her look breathlessly sexy but would make me look like Kathy Bates tearing down walls in “Fried Green Tomatoes.” I knew, then, with a pang of desire unseemly in a follower of Buddha, that if I could just get that stuff my life would be different. My fingers would grow longer and attractively manicured on the keyboard, my legs would lengthen, and I would undoubtedly develop a faint odor of fresh laundry and spring flowers. My writing would become magnificent, my grocery lists would be miraculous, and every e-mail would resonate with a unique combination of incisive wit and admirable pragmatism. How could it be otherwise?
A sensible, independent person in my position would understand that Droid is the latest and greatest, and that it would be smarter to stick with Verizon, pick a phone that used Droid, wait for their new music library system, and revel in my PC by installing Microsoft 7.0 in all its considerable glory. The grass is sleeker, whiter and cooler on the other side of the fence, but not really any better for me. The iPhone gets me everything I need in one piece of equipment, but I lose a real keyboard, which I kind of love. A Mac would really have no clear benefits for me beyond the aesthetic, and costs considerably more for the privilege of making me A Mac. For the things I actually do, as opposed to my Walter Mitty dreams, my PC and my Blackberry work petty darned well, miraculously well in the great scheme of things. It’s not like I am writing posts with a quill and parchment, or calling to make dinner reservations on a rotary phone attached to the kitchen wall. It’s only, it’s really only that I long for an iPhone with all my heart, and if I can have one, I’m going to have one. If I win the lottery I will also have a Mac as soon as I get the first check from The State of Michigan.
I am a sheep. A fat, white, woolly sheep with an Apple in its mouth.