I did the unthinkable today. I strode through the double doors into Future Shop, quickened my pace past the ranks of PCs and veered left into a stylish, flashy, oh-so-hip area that I never expected to enter willingly.
The Mac area.
The cute apples floating in space, the swooshy graphics on the wall, the rows of delicate little Mac books lined up demurely, confidently. “We are the best of the best,” they whisper seductively. “We will make your life better than you could ever dare dream of in your sad, grey, PC life.”
And beyond the ranks of the little laptops, so adorable in their impossible thinness, rise the huge white monoliths of the desktop versions. The sleek, wide, white screens promise an obscenity of richness. I have spoken with Mac users. I know what they are like once they get you in their clutches and make you sit in front of one of these behemoths to show you everything they can do and you, with your hopelessly inadequate PC, cannot.
“Can you use your pathetic PC to put together a full movie of your cat dancing to an old recording of Elvis doing Blue Suede Shoes? You can? Ah! So you think. Let me show you how easy you can do it with my Mac. You will weep with envy. I guarantee it.”
And so it was with a certain amount of dread that I approached the salesman and told him what I needed to buy. The key word is needed. I don’t actually want a Mac.
I’m not after being seduced—not at my age for heaven’s sake. I know that my PCs—all three of them—are but pale imitations of the real leaders in the field. I know that Macs are supposed to be better than PCs, but that PCs won the marketing sweepstakes. Simply put, more people have PCs than Macs—way, way more. And that means that all the computer textbooks I’ve ever written are on PCs. That’s what people use. And all the wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth at the unfairness of it all when everyone knows how much cooler Macs are will not change the fact that PCs won.
But apparently all those hip Mac commercials have done more damage than the PC world cares to admit. So much damage, in fact, that I am compelled—compelled mind you—to adapt one of my computer textbooks for the Mac. Why? Because, it appears, students are showing up in class toting their adorable little MacBooks and smug looks only to find that all the textbooks are written for PCs. Instructors are at a loss. The vast majority know nothing of Macs and so cannot be expected to deliver two lessons—one for their docile PC users and the other for the rebels who brandish their Macs and wait expectantly for instruction. Not, of course, that anyone who uses a Mac needs instruction. Oh no, we all know that Mac users are a cut above the rest of the computer world. Macs are so easy to use that their loyal users don’t really need to be taught.
Whatever. I just write the books; I don’t make the rules.
So the upshot is that my publisher has seen an opportunity—code in the publishing world for Holy Shit, we’d better get a book out there before our competitors scoop the market.
Now I have never actually used a Mac and I was hoping I never would need to. As I said, I don’t want to be seduced. I am happily, if somewhat predictably, married to my PC. Why mess with what’s working? Why should I go for glamour and glitz and passion? I’m fine the way I am thank you very much.
But the publisher asked nicely and what’s a girl to do? Write a book for the Mac market. Please. The subtext: if you don’t do it, someone else will. Well, royalties are royalties and in this economy I’m in no position to turn down anything that generates revenue. Who is?
My only request was that I get a free Mac for my trouble. I didn’t think that was too much to ask and it turns out I was right. The publisher gave me a budget and today I sashayed into Future Shop to spend it. I love spending other people’s money. Love it.
I did feel sorry for the salesman, however. He quite rightly expected to laud the wonderful features of the Mac to an unrepentant middle-age PC user who was finally seeing the light.
But I would have none of it.
“Just give me the cheapest Mac you have and throw in a copy of Office. OK?”
“You will love your Mac,” he gushed. “Look—see these icons at the bottom? You can use them to make movies (aha! I knew that already), listen to music (big deal), create animations (maybe), build nuclear tactile missiles (OK – that I didn’t know).
Inwardly, I confess, I am mildly intrigued. What if all that I’ve heard about Macs is true? What if they really are the totally cool and sexy tools that will change my life forever?
With an effort, I put on my best stony face. “I just need it to write one book and then I won’t use it anymore.”
“Once you start using a Mac, you will never go back to the PC,” he warns with a knowing smirk.
And that—to be wholly truthful—is what I’m afraid of.