A friend handed down this computer to me after our freshperson year at Yale, in the summer of 1989. (“Freshman” was not something we said at Yale in those years.) I wrote a section of Patrick Days on it, as well as, I am sure, some anguished poems. I kept the texts on floppy disks—the really floppy kind—that my friend had given me in a cardboard box.
In the following years I used Macs in the computer lab, or stole time on the Macs of my roommates. Finally, in 1992, I received a graduation prize which enabled me to purchase a Mac Classic of my very own:
This fella lasted for thirteen years. Why don’t you go on and get a glass of warm milk from the kitchen, or read a few chapters from a book or something, in honor of its stolid, sturdy little soul. Braveheart will be here when you get back. It’s in the living room behind the couch, and it still functions.
In 2005 I used part of my inheritance to buy a new Mac from the computer center at the university where I worked. I named this one Goldie in memory of my mom:
It was breathtaking to have a color screen (so huge!) and to have recourse to Excel, which (despite my hatred for Microsoft Word) I adore and use regularly in my novel-writing. However, by the fall of 2008, Goldie had stopped reading CDs. You could put one in, but nothing happened. Then, in April 2010, she stopped turning on. When I took her to the Apple Store they said they couldn’t fix her because she was too old; they didn’t have the parts. I explained to the young man about Braveheart and the thirteen years, but he was unimpressed, and that when I realized that the age of obsolescence had begun. I had fallen behind the eight ball. I had chosen to tread far afield of the superhighway, and the way back towards it was growing thornier and more expensive by the hour.
I went online and bought a 2005 Mac Mini—
—which works fine to this day. At first I used Goldie’s keyboard and mouse with Molly. Then, about fifteen months ago, the letter C broke on the keyboard and cleaning didn’t fix it, so I went down to Radio Shack and got myself a wireless keyboard and mouse. Then everything was fine again, until this past Tuesday, when the keyboard started typing by itself. I went back to Radio Shack, but the only keyboard that was Mac-compatible was so ugly I couldn’t bear to buy it. I went back to the Apple Store, but the keyboards and mice they are selling require OS X 10.6.8, and Molly is only 10.5.8. To upgrade to 10.6 you can order a CD, but the CD only works for Intel-based processors and Molly’s is a PowerPC.
I guess I could buy a used keyboard, the old-fashioned kind that plugs in. But what happens the next time a part dies, and I find out that everything in the Apple Store now whistles “September Song,” and if my computer doesn’t whistle “September Song” I can’t buy any new parts? Should I just use some of my savings to buy a new Mac Mini? What about the five-year-old laptop I also want to update? Things were a lot simpler when it was just Braveheart, a glass of warm milk and me.