So clear, so clean it is said that the astronauts can see it from space—not because it is big, but rather because they are sufficiently motivated to dip the spacecraft for the view. The once proud Plaza Hotel sits across 5th Avenue; shoulders slumped, dreaming of better days. It is the Midtown Apple Store. It is surreal. It is eternal. If Nirvana had a Genius Bar, I would say it was Nirvana.
At the street there is only the crystal cube.
“Why a cube?” I asked.
“Because the cube is the sturdiest, most efficient manufactured shape in existence.”
“No, the geodesic dome is the strongest, most efficient manufactured shape in existence.”
“This isn’t just a cube; this is Steve’s cube.”
“And what, you think that just because Steve Jobs builds a cube—Sorry. I forgot myself”
“Don’t give it another thought. It happens all the time.”
To enter the Midtown Apple Store, one has two options. There is an elevator, but next to the elevator there is a stairway—the cleanest stairway you have ever seen. “How do you keep the stairs so clean?” I said.
“Just give yourself to Steve and walk ahead.”
I walked to the brink of the stairway then in my best internal Neo-voice I said, “There is no stair. There is no stair.” My feet were enveloped to the ankle by what I can only describe as an invisible pillow soft yet firm, floating me to the floor a story below.
“iFloat” the doorman said.
As I effortlessly landed, a creature of mystical beauty, carved from ivory and made flesh said, “It’s something, huh? Welcome to the Apple Store . . . oh and . . . $200 for the fresh install and $99 for the upgrade.”
“You were going to ask how much we charge for Final Cut Express.”
“I . . . I actually was. How did you—”?
She looked at me with slightly upturned hazel eyes that said “I am genuinely modest and yet as aware as you that you can never have me,” and told me “You don’t buy Apple; you buy the Apple Experience.”
I looked up into the open air, because the stairwell is open to the sky.
“What happens when it rains?”
“What do you mean?”
“Doesn’t it rain in?”
“Why would it rain in?”
“Because rain…God…gravity. It’s open. Wouldn’t the rain—who’s at the demo bar today?”
“Jim. He started iSatori a couple of minutes ago. It’s crowded but I’m sure you’ll find a seat.”
I looked to where she pointed, then looked back. ”I don’t suppose–“ But she was gone.
There were easily sixty people at a 4×8 foot table, yet all of us had a stool.
“Seriously. This software is totally integrated into every product Apple makes, which means it is totally integrated into every waking moment of your lives. If your life isn’t perfect, you just haven’t read the manual.”
“You there,” he said to the man three stools away, “Tell us something about yourself.”
“I uh-uh-uh- woo-woo-would ra-a-a-ther no-o-o-t.”
“Because you stutter? Check it out.”
Jim hit three hot keys and “I uh-uh-uh- woo-woo-would ra-a-a-ther no-o-o-t.” Appeared on the screen over a bright red squiggly line. Jim hit a couple of hot keys, then the line read: I would rather not.
“Try it again.”
“I would rather not. Oh my word!”
“Oh my Word for Mac! But iWorks can do it just as well. You, in the wheel chair. Do you own any Apple Products? Hah! Just kidding. Of course you do. What’s your AppleCare username? Not your password just your username?”
“Uh . . . wheels18.”
“Well Wheels18” Jim’s digits flew across the incredibly ergonomic keyboard, “You are repaired! Kick that chair away!”
Wheels18 stood up for the first time in years. The crowd in unison produced a gasp and stared at the miracle man.
“You think that’s something? Let’s see how iMovie can make your vacation to Cabo come alive in true HD!”
From there I wandered through the Elysian Field of all things electronic—perfect little iPods filled with perfect little apps and tucked into perfect little faux leather pouches for the holiday. Desktops and laptops and sound systems and accessories. All beautiful and white. All priced at only twice what their PC alternatives would cost out in the wild. Steve is such a giving man. How could they know my needs? How could they know my desires? How could they know my credit limit and my mother’s maiden name? But soon I realized that just like the birth of my first child there are some things we can never understand. Some things we should just accept. Being in the Apple Store was like witnessing the birth of my first child . . .
Sixteen hours passed in what seemed like minutes. I was dazed, hungry and sure my family must be worried sick–especially little what’s-his-name. Yet I never felt more complete. I walked over to the guy at the stairway and said “Float me to the surface, my good man. It’s time to go.”
“Sorry. On the way out you have to walk.”
“I’m not sure. It’s a proprietary thing. Has to do with some license. All I know is that on the way up, Steve wants you to walk.”
“I don’t want to leave.”
“We get that a lot.”
“No really. I feel so secure here. Like Jesus must have felt in the manger.”
“Can I tell you a secret? If Joseph had been into Macs. Jesus would have been much better off. Caesar calls for the census. Bam! Joseph hits iCaravan. It geotags Mary’s hometown, sets a route and gets them a room in the inn. One-stop shopping. Wise men don’t have to come all that way. PayPal takes care of gift delivery, with a card! Cattle and sheep stay outside. The family can use their iPod mini to stream pics of the little guy to the shepherds and all. No muss. No fuss.”
“Isn’t that a little . . . sacrilegious? I mean, it was 2,000 years ago.”
“Hey! I mean no disrespect. God is great. God is good! And we thank him for our food. But when it comes to tech, all I can say is God is a PC, and Windows Heaven was his idea!”
I turned to go.
“See you tomorrow?” he said.
“We’d love it if you did.”
“Then yes. Tomorrow.”
And that was my trip to the Midtown Apple Store. I’d like to tell you more. I’d love to share my stories with yours. But I have a big day planned. I need my sleep; my sleep iChance to dream!