Apples and Oranges: My iPhone Date Disaster

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Steve Jobs has been dead since 2011, and he’s messing with my love life. Jobs invented Apple; like many other non-geniuses, I am an orange.

And I’m still looking for my “media naranja”—my “half orange”/partner/soul mate to make beautiful fruit salad together.

I was made aware of Job’s power over me this past Mother’s Day. I took a wrong turn off Highway 280 (the story of my life). Just when I needed to recalibrate directions and call to say that I was running late—(the real reason cell phones were invented)—my iPhone went dead. I was powerless in the grip of a dead genius’ invention.

Lack of compliance by this small hunk of metal threatened to ruin my Mothers Day, plans for yet another coffee date, and a rendezvous with a former admirer. Without a workable cell phone, I would be a no-show at the coffee date, appear to be heartlessly blowing off swains who were texting me, and would lack that essential electronic link between emailing and meeting, making the whole transactional drama of online dating impossible.

Without a functioning cell phone, I was textless and my life could soon end up sexless.

In the old days (that even the most tech-savvy boomer can recall), people conducted romance with letters—Got A Letter from my Baby. “Lonely days are gone…I’m a comin’ home…my baby done wrote me a letter. Love hung in the balance waiting for a phone call-like Prince’s How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore?—or an answering machine like the 1984 Replacements’ song —–or depended on finding a phone booth, as in Foul Play with boomers Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase, a plot device that is now inconceivable. Romance is now controlled by the cell phone, from texting to Tinder, with debatable consequences.

Desperate, I schlepped to Apple headquarters on Infinity Loop, teeming with youthful tech-savvy millennials earning more in a year than I will in a decade. The twenty-something at the Apple Store nervously informed me that there was no Genius Bar at Apple’s own headquarters! I was forced to get the only appointment available at the Valley Fair Mall, which meant taking off time from work the following day.

In boomer mythology, Apple was the good guy–our counter-establishment hero—illustrated by the famous 1984 Super Bowl ad that introduced the Macintosh as the way to save humanity from Orwellian dystopia and Big Brother. (Microsoft was Big Brother). Bill Gates is now an international philanthropist, Jobs is dead, and we now know that our wonderfully liberating gadgets depend on outsourced indentured servitude at FoxConn.

The Apple Store is so crowded that the “host” has to take names and assign us to tables to wait our turn. Children are at their own special table—kids of all ages completely mesmerized, ignoring each other, their environment, and their adults while glued to devices. The only human interaction is a four-year-old in pinafore and pigtails who is attempting to keep her baby sister upright enough to play on a Tablet. This little scene, which would make an adorable Apple ad, resembles a four-year-old addict hooking the baby on heroin while still in the cradle. I’m the oldest person there by far, certainly older than the twenty-something next to me with dreadlocks who complains that he can only see half his screen.

My genius is an older guy—maybe thirty—a pale white guy with spiky blonde hair and head-to-toe tattoos who looks like a grunge/metal rock musician running out of steam, which he probably is when not working at the Genius Bar. I ask him why my phone went suddenly from fully charged to dead to not charging at all. “It must have run out of system memory,” he says. “I’ve seen it.” His tone conveys awe and disbelief, like someone insisting that he’s seen a unicorn—(the horned kind that neighs, not the venture capital kind). Of course, the battery passes the diagnostic test with flying colors.

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish,” Steve Jobs declared in a speech to Stanford undergraduates. Exactly the kind of thing that a multigazillionaire would say to a bunch of kids just starting off in life, from however privileged a starting point.

Reunited with my fifth limb, my iPhone, I’m now foolishly and hungrily back to the search for my other half—my half-orange/media naranja, hoping that the Ghost of Steve Jobs plays no more tricks on me. There’s a text coming in right now….

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The L.I.L.-Love, Illusions and Longing blog-is the work of Dorothy Heller, and this is not her dating profile. Heller separated from her ex-husband in 2004 but didn’t divorce until 2010, due to impressive powers of procrastination. She is a mother by marriage, birth, and adoption, which she thought was noteworthy until she met a woman who had done the above, plus had children through surrogates. (Heller is technically an ex-stepmother with two ex-step grandchildren). Family is family. Her children are basically grown—the youngest will be 24 in January, which seems like science fiction to the author—and they have all turned out beautifully. She is willing to share credit for the results. All three are happily married. When Heller grows up, she wants to be like her children. Heller has been a short-order crepe chef, a ghostwriter for physicians at Stanford University, a (not very competent) secretary, a poet, a union organizer, a grant writer, a technical marketing writer, a medical and legal interpreter/translator, and is probably forgetting a number of jobs, like the time she showed up for a temp assignment as receptionist at a home for unwed mothers in a midi dress and they refused to believe she wasn’t a pregnant inmate.

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