LiePod, or How an Apple Sealed Her Fate

Apple equals Temptation equals Sin equals Satan. Why did this simple equation escape me for so long?
I just wanted to spend time with my friends and have fun this weekend. My job has been hectic, my apartment got robbed – I was looking for a mindless distraction. I just never thought I would be witness to Roma’s fall from grace.
This weekend, I went to Milwaukee to visit some old friends, and attend a marathon poetry reading (yes, my life is both wild and glamorous). We decided to kill time by heading out to the mall for some impulse shopping. For me, impulse shopping typically means spending $18 on some Aveda shampoo that smells really nice and makes my hair shiny. For my friend Roma, it meant much, much more.
After a quick run through Pottery Barn, Roma innocently asked me if I wanted to pop into the Apple store while we were at the mall to check out the iPods. Her sister just bought a sleek green iPod mini, so she was thinking about getting one, too.
The store was absolutely packed – every station was full of people typing and clicking and mousing and thumbing all the sexy Apple products. Within minutes, I found myself palming two iPods simultaneously – the mini and the regular. It was hypnotic. Lithe young sales associates in tight black T-shirts with iPod Shuffles seductively draped around their necks snaked their way through the crowd, ensuring that our every desire was being fulfilled. They held the answers to all our questions:

  • But how many songs will it hold?
  • And will it play The Sims?
  • Then how much is the mini-Mac?
  • Well what does the upgrade cost?
  • So does this come in tangerine?

Customers were following the sales people from station to station like timid art lovers hovering around a docent, eager to glean whatever details they could without actually having to ask the questions themselves.
But Roma was no shy patron of the arts. Though she led me to believe we had entered the Garden of Apple on a whim, Roma walked through those heavenly doors with a purpose. She toyed with the iPod for a few minutes, feigning interest in it long enough to get the sales associate’s attention.
When our twenty-something sales person approached, Roma moved in close to him, and casually draped her hand across the keyboard of the shiny white iBook.
“So, I see you were looking at the iPod. Are there any questions I can answer for you?”
“Well, actually, I’m more interested in getting a laptop. What can you tell me about the iBook?”
“Depending on what your needs are, the iBook is an outstanding choice. But I must admit that my personal favorite is the PowerBook. I own one myself.”
“The PowerBook? Tell me more.”
I stepped back as the sales person told Roma the story of the Book of Power, and all its advanced functionality. He leaned in close to her as he showed her how to build presentations using Keynote, and how to edit photos with iPhoto. They rocked and swayed together as he pulled up GarageBand 2 and demonstrated how Roma could create her own music.
“I think this has everything I could ever need in a laptop, and so much more. But tell me, does it come with MS Office already installed?”
“No, the Office Suite of software is not included. That would be an extra fee.”
“I see. And how much does the software cost?”
“Well, Office is a bit expensive. It’s about $300. Unless you’re a teacher, because then we can sell you the teacher’s edition, which is only $150. Are you a teacher?”
I glanced over at Roma, and saw a face I didn’t recognize. A half-grin crept up the left side of her face, and her eyes were as black as night. She turned to me slowly, turned back to the sales person, and I watched the tip of her tongue as it formed the words, “Yes. Yes, I am a teacher.”
My mouth dropped open, as if words were trying to escape, but nothing would come out. I stood there silently, while my friend looked into the eyes of this fresh-faced college boy and hissed out a blatant lie.
I waited silently for a few more minutes as the sales person ran through all of the other options that Roma might want to consider, at which point Roma told him she would need a few minutes to make her decision. Before we left, she asked if she could have his card – she wanted to make sure he got credit for the sale.
“Oh, sure. But just so you know, we don’t work on commission here. Although my manager does like to keep track of who we’re helping. Here’s my card.”
Lucas Young, Sales Associate.
Roma snatched the card from Lucas’ hand, led me out of the store by the arm, and took me to the Cinnabon to get a Coke. Still stunned by her lie, I had yet to speak. After we sat down for a minute, and the caffeine and sugar started to hit my bloodstream, I was able to think clearly once again.
“Roma, what the hell just happened in there? You told me you wanted a $250 iPod. Now you’re buying a $2500 laptop? And you’re not a teacher!”
“Oh Jenny, grow up, will you? Why would I want a silly little iPod when I could have the PowerBook G4? Did you see the screen on that thing? It’s magnificent! Brushed aluminum alloy exterior, legendary SuperDrive, built in AirPort Extreme, and .Mac pre-installed? He made a web page in 20 seconds right before our very eyes, Jenny! Were you even watching?!”
“But… you said you were a teacher! That’s just not true!”
“Look, he wanted me to say that. I only gave him what he wanted. And who really gets hurt? I don’t think Bill Gates is going to miss that $150 for MS Office.”
“Roma, that’s not the point! You have a perfectly good pc at home – why do you need to buy an Apple? Your dad told you never to get an Apple – none of the software is compatible!”
“Jenny, my father doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Have you seen the Apples? They’re glorious! They’re so much better than any pc I’ve ever seen. He probably just didn’t want me to get one because he knows how wonderful they are, and wants them all to himself.”
“That’s crazy talk! He just doesn’t want you to waste your money.”
“Look, I’m getting an Apple. And so are you. You need one, too. We’re all going to get Apples.”
“I don’t need one! I’m still digging myself out of unemployment debt, and I just got robbed. Plus, I just bought a new pc less than a year ago!”
“Yes, but you don’t have a laptop, now, do you?”
“Stop it! I don’t want the Apple! If you want one, go ahead and get an Apple. But leave me out of this!”
Roma and I went back to the Apple store so she could seal the deal. She found Lucas back by the accessory section, straightening out the boxes of iPod cases. Roma told him that she was ready for the Apple, so we got in line.
Lucas came back from the stockroom with a huge grin on his face:
“I have good news! Since you’re a teacher, not only can I give you a discount on the MS Office, but we also offer an educator discount on the laptop and accessories. I’ll just need to see an ID that indicates that you’re a teacher.”
My eyes widened. Roma’s eyes tightened. Lucas just stared blankly.
“Well, I don’t think I have it with me, but let me just check.”
I watched in horror as Roma pulled out her wallet and pretended to actually search for a nonexistent identification card for her fictitious teaching job. She flipped through card after card – credit cards, Blockbuster cards, Starbucks cards, library cards. She even looked twice, for effect.
“Nope, I’m afraid I don’t have my new one yet.”
“Hmm. Well, let me go ask the manager if there’s anything we can do.”
My stomach started to churn, and I had to walk away. I pretended to be fascinated by the Epson Stylus printers/scanners, but really just wanted to escape from this den of lies. From the corner of my eye, I saw Lucas walking back to the cash register.
“Great news! My manager said that we don’t need your ID. I’ll just need to know the school that you teach at and what course you teach.”
Roma licked her lips and, without missing a beat, said, “Alverno College. I teach Spanish.”
She somehow even managed to make up the right zip code for the school. Apparently, Lucas bought it, because Roma walked out of the Apple store with her new PowerBook, and a nice educator discount, to boot.
I was silent during the entire ride home – I just didn’t know what to say. My friend sold her soul for an Apple. And I just stood by and watched it happen. But even worse than my silence is that fact that since I got home, all I can think of is, “God, do I want an Apple!”

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