For Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse was the Vietnam war. My personal apocalypse arrived last Sunday week. My computer crashed – literally gave up the ghost. Every time I switched it on, I got a blue screen and then it infuriatingly switched itself off.
I should mention that I am probably the world’s worst handyman. My wife – from bitter experience – has expressly forbidden me to tamper with any household appliances. Well, technically, I reasoned, a computer wasn’t a household appliance. Besides, it was keeping me away from my irreplaceable gather clan. Faced with a dilemma like that, my normally logical brain took a holiday. I was possessed by the Blogger demon.
Anyway, I started banging maniacally on the keyboard and, voila, I found myself staring at something called a “safe” mode. A good omen. If it was “safe”, nothing could go wrong, right? Yeah, right. I nonchalantly pressed ENTER and strings of computer code started scrolling down. It’s working, I yippeed. That’s when I heard an ominous pfft and everything went blank. There was a deathly silence. I realized I had stopped breathing. Still I wasn’t too worried. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about computers, it’s that when something goes wrong, switch everything off and then start over again. That usually worked. Except, this time it did not. The infernal machine was as dead as my lost weekend. I dropped my head in my hands and wallowed in self pity.
I had been praying all night for a miracle, but the Big Guy Upstairs must have been otherwise occupied. That piece of junk hardware was still just that – a piece of junk. I gulped down a liquid breakfast and took it to the shop. I told the technician, the machine was dead but, of course, those guys never believe you. He had to plug it in and verify it for himself. He shook his head and proceeded to open it up. I knew instantly from the look of horror on his face that I was in deep shit (pardon my French). He didn’t say it in so many words (apparently they are trained to be polite to customers), but his reproachful look said it all. What unspeakable atrocities had I visited upon this beautiful machine? I told him to give it to me straight – and unfortunately, he did. The motherboard was fried and the Windows XP was totally corrupted and a dead loss. He couldn’t tell for sure till he dissected the innards, but I was looking at a bill of close to 400 dollars. It was a body blow, of course, but we rugged males have been genetically programmed to bear such calamities with fortitude. I gave him a stoic grimace and asked what time I could pick it up that evening. He looked at me as if I’d lost my marbles. This evening? We were talking about major surgery here. Maybe the following Thursday – if I was lucky. That is when I broke down. I believe I actually saw the Four Horsemen. My eyeballs disappeared into the top of my skull and my breath became shallow. The technician was so concerned he came down and put me in a taxi.
Thus began my purgatory; and it surprised the crap out of me. I mean to say, I wasn’t one of those couch potatoes who plunked himself down in front of a television all day. I was a man of many parts. I had my books; I had my music: I had my writing. There were umpteen things I should be doing. So why wasn’t I doing them?
Then it hit me. I had unwittingly become a hopeless blogaholic – the very species I used to feel smugly superior to. What I was experiencing now was withdrawal symptoms. I couldn’t read. Even Peter, Paul and Mary did nothing for me. Not one creative idea found its way into my empty brain. I was mooning about the house like a lonesome cowboy. All I could think of was my networking people: who alternately fed my ego and my temper. Were they missing me? Were they even aware that I was not in their midst? Did anyone call 911? I hope they missed me, coz I sure as hell missed them.
Monday morphed into Tuesday, then Wednesday in one unbroken, lifeless stream. I watched old movies on TCM but, for the first time, even Audrey Hepburn could do nothing for me. I was a basket case.
Finally, Thursday dawned and, with a prayer on my lips, I rang up the computer guy. It would be ready by that evening, he said. Simple words, but they fell on my parched ears like a Chopin Prelude.
To cut a long story short, I am back online and back in business. The sun is shining; the birds are trilling; and I feel like bursting into song. I am now waiting to be folded into the collective embrace of my admiring public. A few tears of joy – even crocodile ones – will be appreciated.