The year was 1995. I was in my second year of teaching, and one day I was in the teachers’ lounge getting my mail when I noticed a pile of flyers on the table advertising a supposed deal on Macintosh computers. I had always wanted a Mac, but they proved way, way, WAY out of my budget when I was starting college, and while they’re great machines, they remain, shall we say, NOT the top choice for the budget-conscious. In any case, they were advertising a beautiful, loaded Performa for the supposedly educator-discounted price of $2599. (It’s weird that I remember that. Then again, you tend to remember the price of things that are so expensive you have to make payments on them.) And I was still young and naive enough to believe that if they said it was a good discount, it must be. So we bought one using their financing program, and we loved that computer.
It was so pretty. The graphics were amazing compared to the Windows 3.1 machine we’d been using. It had a TV tuner in it. And it had internet capability! Which was a relatively new thing in personal computing c.1995. I remember standing in that same teacher’s lounge as someone explained to me what this “search engine” thing was, and how to use it. (They recommended I type in http://www.yahoo.com.) That’s how new this all was. We had an email address, but better than half the people we knew didn’t, so I’m not sure what email we were expecting to receive. We were just psyched to have it.
We excitedly plugged in the machine and opened up the internet program, which was adorable–it was built like a little town, and you clicked on different buildings for different topics. If you had email, a little truck would appear in front of the Post Office.
We were both still teaching at the time, and we used the hell out of that Mac, making worksheets and games and such. And it was a good computer, though it did have its drawbacks: Mac peripherals were not available everywhere, and were generally twice as expensive as PC printers and external disk drives. And when it got to the point where we, and the world of computing, had grown beyond what that Performa could process, we switched back to a Windows machine after finding out the world had moved on to USB connections, and none of our existing Mac peripherals would work with a new Mac. We’d have to buy all new everything, at top dollar, and as I mentioned, we were teachers, and didn’t have that kind of money lying around.
But we didn’t say goodbye to that computer, because it had the TV tuner and once we moved it into a spare bedroom, we had an extra TV. Time passed, and we moved to Arizona, first to an apartment and then a house and then a second house. Along the way, we got a second TV, and had been through several more computers between us (sharing a computer just became impossible around 2004 because we both wanted to be on it), and though it no longer had any use, somehow we still had the Performa.
Not that I hadn’t tried to get rid of it on multiple occasions, but the lovely man to whom I’m married insisted that we keep it for REASONS. There were vague suggestions that he’d plug cable into it out in the studio and use it for a TV tuner again. Or that he had files on it that he wanted to save. But as far as I could see, it existed solely for collecting dust and taking up space in his office, as well as being a collection point for various other junk that got dropped on top of it. Because none of those other things ever happened.
Every once in awhile, in a fit of cleaning, Scott would complain that he didn’t have enough room in his office, and I would suggest that perhaps it was finally time to send the Performa to its eternal rest. My suggestions were ignored. It was not, despite my obvious delusions, time. Not then. Not ever.
My argument that even if there WERE files on it, if we had not seen fit to even TRY to access them in over a decade, we probably didn’t need them, also held no sway. Clearly, I do not understand the deep bond between a man and his Macintosh. Because this little scene has repeated itself on various occasions over the years, all with the same non-result: We still have that fucking Performa.
So recently we’ve been rearranging things, making our house work a little better. We moved the dining room into the front room. The old dining room, always too small, became my new sewing room after Scott moved his giant corner desk out of his office into it. He rearranged his office, adding a comfy chair and put his year-old iMac on the low lateral file cabinet. Which is where the Performa used to live. So now he was without a home for the Performa, and I tried once more to convince him to get rid of it.
This time, however, he swore that he was going to get the files off of it and THEN we’d bring it to the special monthly hazmat collection site, and I would finally be rid of it after 19 years. 19 years! 19 years is eons in computer time. Hell, 19 months is eons in computer time!
And being the sweet, hopeful, trusting soul that I am, I believed him this time, too, and said, “Great!” as he moved the Performa out to the studio so as to have more space to putz with it.
And there it has sat for a month now, no closer to leaving my house than it has been in any of the previous 228 months. And I said nothing, because what was there to say that I hadn’t already said?
At least I didn’t say anything until this weekend, when I informed him that my sewing teacher was coming over to take a jewelry-making lesson from me, and we needed to clean up the studio some. I didn’t single out the Performa, but Sunday afternoon, the man I loved surprised me by starting to fart around with cables and Zip drives and such for the Performa. Was it really going to happen this time?
There was teensy wrinkle in the plan, though, demonstrated when my dear husband came in and said to me, “Do you remember how to turn it on? Do we have to turn it on in the back and with the button?”
At which point I just looked at him. Pointedly. Very pointedly. So pointedly that you could’ve done cross-stitch with my look. So pointedly that you could’ve killed a buffalo with my look. And then I said, “You know, if you don’t remember how to turn the damn thing on, you probably don’t need to keep it, right?” And then I laughed my way right out of the room. Somehow, though (Curses!) he got the damn thing on. However, it will no longer read the Zip drive that was bought especially for it. Like many ancient people, it has evidently just gotten cantankerous in its old age, and it doesn’t feel the least bit obligated to cooperate.
But despite all overwhelming evidence highlighting the inescapable conclusion that any resuscitation of the Performa is an utterly lost cause, my old friend, my eternal housemate, is, as I type this, still sitting on Scott’s desk 3 feet away. And it’s looking pretty fucking smug, if you ask me.