Pandemonium Has an Apple Store...
And it's always Black Friday.
Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering. - Job 26.6
Yes, I have been through the fire and witnessed the writhing mass of a tormented humanity in Pandemonium. It was a winding road that led me there, but I will share it with you brethren (and sistern), if you dare to follow my trail.
As everyone knows, the Gates of Hell are just off Fourth Avenue, right past Dick's Last Resort, but if you want to get to Pandemonium; you'll need to take the Miramar Road exit West off Interstate 805.
The Indigent Girlfriend's brother (Bill) was down for Thanksgiving and went with me to buy some parts for a computer I was rebuilding. So, we went out to my usual hole-in-the-wall asian suppliers and picked up what I needed (Motherboard, CPU, and RAM). It was on the drive back that Bill began telling me about a problem he was having with his Apple iBook. It seems that his iBook G4 would lock-up when recording his gigs (he's a musician). It would also freeze and "stutter" when applying reverb or EQ to multiple tracks using Digital Performer. Since I don't know anything about audio or Apple computers, all that sounded as foreign to me as it did to you. So it was with a great deal of confidence that I told him he needed more memory (RAM) in his iBook.
That's how we ended up in front of the Apple Store at the University Towne Center mall in La Jolla. Looking through the doors, I could only see a writhing mass of people. My mind was already troubled by what Apple Computer could possibly be selling that would attract such a crowd. Even if all nine Apple users in San Diego were in there at the time, who were all these other folks? No matter, I extended my right-arm in front of me, turned my flat-palm vertical, raised it above my head, and began hacking a path through the milling masses of lost souls. Reaching the counter at the back with little injury to ourselves, I asked for a 1GB memory module to upgrade an iBook G4. The clerk checked stock on the computer, gave me a quick "no problem" and went through a back door to the stock room. Bill and I exchanged triumphant grins. Hell, I was thinking we could probably get these "Apple Geniuses" (yes, that's what they're called) to install the memory for us, sparing me the deed of having to open it up myself. I was quite at ease and feeling fine.
That's why I was caught so off-guard when the clerk returned, slapped the boxed memory on the counter and said, "This is 500 dollars."
It took a moment to realize that my heart had stopped beating. My vision blurred and the world lurched under my feet. I knew there was something I should be doing, but I couldn't remember what it was. I was drifting in a dream, standing at the counter of an Apple Computer store in 1988, when the clerk sets a 20MB hard drive on the counter and says, "That'll be 600 bucks". No wait, I am sitting at a desk across from a Farmers Insurance broker who's saying, "Comprehensive coverage for a 19 year old driving a 280Z will be $176 per month." I can faintly hear gagging noises as the real estate agent tells me, "...and this is a great entry level home at just $550,000." What is that buzzing? Is someone calling my name? Is that you Lord?
I opened my eyes to Bill shaking me by the shoulders, mouthing the word that must be my name, calling me back. That's when I remembered what it was I should be doing. My lungs burned as I sucked in my first breath in what must have been minutes. As the last few bright spots cleared from my vision, I saw Bill (for whom money is no object) looking at me as if to say, "Well, should we get it?"
In my head, I was thinking, "Sure, why not. In fact, why don't we ALL just start dropping LSD, having promiscuous group sex in the rain-soaked mud pits of Woodstock, and paying $500 for 1GB memory modules until the fabric of society, commerce, and decency is lost forever!" After declining the purchase, it was with no small amount of desperate panic that I began hacking a path back through the crowd of masochists.
We eventually ended up at Fry's Electronics where we picked up the 1GB memory module for $135 with a $15 mail-in rebate. The serpentine checkout line winding all the way back through the unkempt shelves of the warehouse store was like a little taste of Heaven by comparison. The added memory had its desired effect and all was well. We had looked upon the end of times, waded into the heart of chaos, and walked out again mostly unharmed, if not untouched.