I hate the Apple store.
They just opened one in our local mall.
That's a lie; we don't have a local mall.
We do have a local stoplight. Sometimes on Friday nights, we go down to the intersection, and watch it change colors.
The mall is in Fresno, about a thirty minute drive from here. They did open an Apple store. I went in the weekend they opened, and I decided I'll never go back. In fact, we were in the mall a few weeks ago with Misti and Adam (friends of ours), and Adam, a proud iPhone owner, asked if I wanted to walk down to the Apple store with him, while the girls went to Forever 21.
I thought for a moment. Forever 21 is, in my estimation, a swap meet specializing in women's clothing. It's a too-large store, overstocked with shirts and skirts and pants and hats-and even underwear, all bargain priced (so they say). They've got rack upon rack pushed together so tightly that you have to walk sideways through the store.
And their dressing rooms are like a drive-through car wash. They've got an attendant that stands there at the entrance to the dressing rooms. She corrals those poor souls who need to try on a shirt or pants into a single file line, pushes them through as quickly as possible. She marches up and down the line of dressing room doors, barking like a drill sergeant: "Room 3: are you finished yet? You've been in there almost two minutes!"
"Um...do you have this in a size 6?" a timid voice asks from room 3.
"I'm certain we do, ma'am. But I'm not your gopher. Now hurry-it-up."
OK, that's a little extreme, I'll admit. But I wait outside while Shawna goes to try on a shirt, and I watch that woman herd those poor hopeful customers into and out of the dressing rooms, and I feel pressure. I find myself talking to myself under my breath: "Hurry Shawna, hurry! Oh my goodness! She's going towards Shawna's dressing room! She hasn't been in there THAT long, has she? Oh Lord, I hope they don't yank her out and throw her, half-dressed, out into the store. She'd be so embarrassed. Oh Shawna, please hurry!"
And the customers there! My wife aside, the vast majority of the girls that shop there are teenagers, walking around the store, glassy-eyed, some microwave computer beaming out messages, taking control of their mind, creating absurd purchasing impulses. For example, the last time I was there, I saw an African-American girl walk into the store and stop abruptly, just inside the store. Her face went slack, her eyes glazed over, and she started walking, with this lurching gait, toward the center of the store. She stopped at a display of cheeky slogan t-shirts. She pawed through them for a moment, and finally came up with the one she was looking for. She walked over to the register, and jumped into line. I was curious, so I sidled up behind her, hoping for a glimpse of the shirt. I finally saw what it said as she laid it up on the counter. "Blondes Have More Fun."
So I try not to go there anymore (especially since the last time I was there, their mind control somehow drove me to spend $183 on a royal blue, one-piece shortsuit; a bright red, waist-length pea coat; and an orange t-shirt that says "Department of Connections" on it).
You would have thought I'd jump at the Apple store. But I didn't. I chose, instead, to take Lex and Gentry to the play area. A dangerous proposition, under any circumstances (you have no idea how much pain 15 or 20 children can inflict). But definitely a better choice than Forever 21, and preferable to the Apple store.
Not because I don't like the store; I do. They've got the coolest stuff. I'd LOVE to have an iPhone myself-not that the Blackberry isn't great; it is. And, in a few days, when I publish my Christmas wish-list here, you'll find that a MacBook sits proudly in the number one spot this year.
But the Apple store: It's an intimidating place. The folks who work there are all cut out of the same bolt of cloth. They're very strange, in a cool way. Most have weird looking glasses that I'm certain they got from their aunt (who was the 1963 homecoming queen), but look incredibly stylish on them. They wear Converse, and strange tight black jeans. And they don't comb their hair.
And they scare me to death.
I occasionally sit on the edge of the fountain just outside the Apple store, and try to build up the courage to walk in. And just as I feel I'm ready, I spy the sign: "Genius Bar." What is a flabberwocking Genius Bar?!?! What do you order at a Genius Bar? I haven't the foggiest idea. Genius juice (with the wheat grass additive)?
So, instead, I sit and stare wistfully at the strange teenager, with the uncombed hair, tortoiseshell glasses, beat up Converse, and pocket protector, and watch as he explains in lofty technical terms to a swooning forty-something guy in Dockers and a blue Polo (who already has his credit card out), how the memory compression, combined with the high speed mother-sound card, and increased internal RAM storage capacity, make for a noticeably superior audio-visual experience on the new 17.1" MacBook.
And beg you who are braver than I: please, oh please, visit an Apple store near year this Christmas season, and purchase that coveted MacBook (the one with the impressive mother-sound card, memory compression to die for, and ungodly RAM capacity-all making for a heavenly computing experience).
And send it to me.