Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I Forced a Mac on My Daughter

Scratch a Jewish mother and you’ll likely find a woman itching to buy her daughter apparel. (See excerpt below from THE DIVISION STREET PRINCESS.) But for this first generation Yiddish Momma, I wasn’t content until my daughter Faith let me buy her a Mac.

Some history: I’ve been a computer user and fan of the product since the 1980s with my first army-green Kaypro and WordStar software. I eventually graduated to Gateways and Word Perfect. Over the years, I accumulated and discarded several desktops and one laptop.

“You’re not a Mac person?” friends with Macs would ask in surprise. “Too tricky to change,” I’d answer, “and besides, Macs are for graphics people.”

Finally, in December of 2004, plagued by viruses, spy ware, and the programs intended to bar them, my computers ceased to be fun. It was time to switch, but first, as is my wont in new pursuits, I got immersed in Mac manuals, visits to the Michigan Ave. and Old Orchard Apple stores, and free classes. Also, I waylaid any Mac coffee shop user who erred by working on his laptop in my line of vision.

Persuaded I could handle change, I bought an iMac G5 desktop and gave myself and my new pet a few weeks to get to know each other. Then it happened: I was hooked, addicted. Ripping and burning to iTunes, importing to iPhoto, dragging files to the Desktop or Trash. Soon, an iPod Shuffle, a Nano, and finally a PowerBook entered my iLife. I became – drum roll here – a certified M.O. (Mac Obnoxious).

Not satisfied with my own collection of Apple products, I vowed to win over everyone else in my life, starting with my own family. Figuring my 8-year-old grandson would be most amenable to conversion, I wooed him during a visit to Los Angeles. “Just put these in,” I cooed as I gently stuffed Shuffle buds into his tiny ears. “Nice grandma,” he said as Carmen McRae continued the seduction. His 9th birthday won him a Nano from all grandparents, and an iBook from his parents. My first success!

My L.A. grandson being wooed in the Apple store at The Grove.

Emboldened with the taste of tech, I tried my spiel on PC friends, but recognizing they were beyond salvation, and also because they ran whenever they saw me approach, I returned to my original scheme and targets: my two daughters.

When I learned Jill was borrowing her son’s laptop for Starbucks visits, I cackled to myself. To my Macs I said, “It’s just a matter of time. She’ll soon be ours.”

Jill, pre-Mac and unaware of my devilish plans.

Finally, her e-mail, “You’ll be happy to hear…” was the subject line. Two down, one to go. Not only did Jill get a Mac desktop, but her machine included a camera and iChat. Video conferencing from L.A. to Chicago (okay, early shots were of Jill and my grandson making silly faces) followed, with a hunger on my part, for a new Apple product, an iSight camera.

As for Faith, my last holdout, fate intervened. A visit to her home in Boston required my laptop’s participation. As Faith and her daughter watched her sister and nephew cavort on the West Coast, I sensed an opening. “You need a Mac,” I said. “I can’t afford it,” she answered, “although my Dell is driving me crazy.”

Did my eyes brighten with lust, my heart quicken? I’m ashamed to admit such emotions as my prey slacked before me.

“I’ll buy it for you,” I said, the words spilling before my brain could calculate my income to debt ratio.

“Oh, Mommy, I can’t accept it,” she said, and quickly added, “but how could I turn you down.”

If I knew how to link a sigh of contentment to this essay, it would go right here. We plugged in her Mac iBook upon our return from the Apple store in Chestnut Hill, MA. And before we could say “Steve Jobs” my daughter and grandson’s punims sailed wirelessly to the East Coast.

Faith, success!

Buddy, our golden retriever, not certain if my iPod Shuffle is his thing. I didn’t press it.

My work here is done. And now, from THE DIVISION STREET PRINCESS, Chapter Six, “From Your Lips to God’s Ears,” my mother Min’s misguided attempt to gift her only daughter:

“I remembered my excitement on the Saturday Mother had returned with the skirt. Racing to the door to relieve her of her Carson’s, Stevens’, and Fair’s shopping bags; I shouted, ‘Let me see, let me see.’ I tossed out the tissue paper, seeking something delightful, but instead fished out the homely, scratchy skirt.

‘Isn’t it pretty,’ Mother had said excitedly. ‘I got it on sale. Try it on.’
‘Yes, Mom, pretty,’ I had said, my voice a bass to her soprano. ‘But I’ll try it on later. Okay?’ I considered telling her the truth then and there, but kept my mouth shut.

What I wanted to say was that I not only hated the green skirt, but I loathed all of the clothing she bought for me. I wanted to tell her that pleated skirts made me look fat, that none of my pals wore black pullovers with red satin roses stitched above the heart, and that the one-inch wedge on my slip-on leather shoes wouldn’t stop me from being the shortest child in the fourth grade. But I feared honesty might hurt her feelings or turn her against me, so I had feigned delight.”

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