appleReceived! Redeemed! Reborn! Hallelujah, Lord, I have seen the light and I am converted.

Well, a sucker, they say, is born every minute, but I don’t care. Not now. For all those years I travelled the venal byways of the PC, persuaded by evil people that if I switched, I would be condemned to never again communicate with most of the world. For years I suffered the slings and arrows of this stupid system that broke down constantly, of my Dell computer encased in a hideous box. And then it happened.

I’ve always been prejudiced against the Mac, against the Apple people, not so much because I knew anything about them but because it seemed to me that people who use them really think that somehow S teve Jobs is a better human being than Bill Gates. They are prone to evangelical fervour about a hunk of plastic and some wires and chips. They are the kind of people who are vegetarians – they wear vegetarian shoes – and probably have wind chimes hanging over their doors. I no longer care. I have seen the light and I saw it on the 17-inch widescreen of my new, immaculate, all-white iMac that is so beautiful, you want to have sex with it. I’m in love. Did the devil make me do it? Did I fall for the new Mac ad campaig, which attempts to get PC users to switch?

It all began on the day I called my PC company for help because my computer had broken down. (Even when it was working, I had to crash it all the time because various systems were constantly relaying messages like “Batjanmanji” to let me know something was not well.) Anyhow, during my breakdown, in spite of Dell’s great aftercare promises, I discovered I was talking to India. That’s India the sub-continent. In order to get the thing fixed, I would have to arrange the transport with this person in India and then get the computer sent to Tennessee. I was enraged. I live in New York City, the centre of the universe. I am not interested in the global village. Why did I need to talk to India and ship to Tennessee?

Why couldn’t I get it done here? And then it happened. On my corner, a vast Mac store opened, a shining citadel on a hill, all white, with polished wood and glass stairs. Adorable young acolytes in semi stubble (the boys), who know all about the Mac religion, offer you a bite of the apple, icon of the faith. And there are the machines, the religious trophies, those beautiful iMacs that swivel and tilt their screens just for you, the speakers in little L ucite globes, the sleek, playful mouse that instantly responds to your commands. There are early morning classes, like S unday S chool for the new Macapalian. How is it, I have always wondered, that no other manufacturer has cashed in on the Design Thing? How is that almost all other computers are dreary beige, black and grey with barely a grace note at all? ( S ony’s not bad but, then, my Sony Vaio has recently started acting up.)

Here at the Mac store, aided by a young Adonis named Alex, I discover that I can use the same program – Word – I’ve been writing on for years, that I can send e-mails in the same way I always have and that I can pretty much communicate with most other computer folk. The screen is entirely lovely with those bouncy icons, there is a little computer with feet that asks you questions instead of the animated idiot paper clip, and the instructions make sense. What’s more, if you’re a technophobe like me, most of what you need you can achieve by simply plugging in. No downloading complicated programs while you’re forced to drum your fingers for six hours. That day I realised that I have been living a lesser life with my PC. I do not care if I am a sucker for an ad campaign, for a stylish store, for a stunning machine. I want it. I get it. The divorce is fast; the conversion painless. What I also quickly discover is that when you utter the word Mac the evangelicals are with you. Macapalianism is a proselytising religion, its adherents fervent. “Guess what?” I say to my friend L izzy. Her face lights up. “You’re switching to Mac,” she says. S uddenly L izzy and her husband, William, are never far from my side. They come to the store with their child, Ben. Upstairs in the Mac store is a low table with computers to play on and, naturally, Ben makes straight for it. He climbs on the stool, he hits the keyboards. Ben is 18 months old. It’s a caste, it’s a masonry of people who do the secret shake and offer to help you out at all hours of the day or night. Already I am infected. I want the other stuff: a PowerBook G4, the titanium one that is almost as beautiful as my iMac; the iPod to record music and wear like a bauble. I will not be denied. I am a true believer. Praise the Lord and pass the Mac. !


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