How I Got Zipped in My Drive
The only difference between men and boys, the saying goes, is the size of their toys. And the price. The way they acquire their booty doesn't vary much either, especially if it has fallen upon you, the woman of the relationship, to be the keeper of the funds. Back when I was the keeper of the funds for a small sized boy, I became familiar with the Wear Mom Down routine of getting what you want. The child starts building his case, and this becomes his obsession. All day long you would hear variations on the theme of I Want and I Need and If I Had This What a Good Boy I'd Be. Add to that, I Would Never Ask for Anything Else Again if I Had This. One of my most memorable purchases was a BMX bicycle, the best one in the store, which would, in the coming months, required better handlebars, a better seat, a better this and a better that. How could this bike have been the best one when so many of the parts had to be replaced with even better ones? Modifying that damn bike occupied us, and took all my money, for the better part of a year, and when it finally reached a state of perfection, of exquisiteness that could no longer be improved upon, he flat out lost interest in it. I had an uncle -- probably all of us did -- who felt the same way about cars. He would find a good buy on a car that needed work, a dream car, just a few hundred dollars short of being a like-new car. He would buy the car and then spend every available moment as well as every available dollar, modifying and fixing and improving that car until it was perfection itself, a sight to behold. And at that point, another junker would suddenly appear on the horizon that had even more potential to be refurbished, and he would lose all interest in the car he had and pursue the car he wanted. It was a never ending cycle and a never-ending drain on his finances. At least bikes and cars have wheels and can go places. Computers are boxes that start losing their value the minute you take them out of the box. The large size boy for whom I am currently keeping funds became curious about my computer. I offered him my old one to play with. He carried it off and fiddled with it, and within a month announced he needed more speed. He needed more hard drive. He needed bigger and better. He needed access to his funds to get all this. It became something he talked about constantly. "But what would you do with a computer?" I'd asked. "What are you doing with the one I loaned you?" Well, nothing yet, but that's because it has no speed, it has no space. When a sale came up on a computer even bigger than mine, full of speed and space, the ad was waved in my face so often, I could not see to walk. All right, all right, all right. This kept him quiet for about another month, and then we entered the Acquisition Mode. Although the computer came bundled with enough software to keep him occupied full-time for a year or more, he was always on the look-out for more applications, more programs, more utilities, more games! He has yet to finish a game, but a shelf full of games gives a man a feeling of...well, I don't know. Gamemanship? Being master of the game? I tend to buy one game at a time, and play it until I win -- which can take anywhere from three months to a year with computer games -- before I start a new one. Is it men in general or just this particular man who, if he keeps getting absorbed by the Borg decides the way to win is to move on to another game? I started to draw the line at upgrades. Nope, the credit card can't keep coming out for upgrades, dammit! Just about the time you acquire every possible program you could want or need, and several dozen you don't need, they upgrade them, requiring you to kick in another $100 or so to keep up with the technology. The sale catalogs come in and I have to patiently explain, yes, I know there is an upgrade to Adobe Illustrator, but you have had Adobe Illustrator for six months, and the only thing you've ever done with it is draw some colored circles and squares which we duly hung on the refrigerator for all to admire, and you haven't Adobed or illustrated anything since. Why do we need to upgrade this program? Sometimes he sees the reason in this, but other times I am up against a cascading tide of need that is like a hole in the Hoover Dam. And you live in fear of his getting together with another computer acquisition obsessive to compare notes on who's got more programs and who's got the bigger hard drive. Six months ago, he didn't know what a zip drive was. Even three months ago, I don't think he knew what a zip drive was, but all you need is another man to tell your man about his cool zip drive, and you know what? Now he needs a zip drive. A zip drive, apparently, is some little device which stores vast quantities of whatever you have to store. It is like a computer two-car garage. "But," I insist, "you're always bragging about how much hard drive space you still have free compared to my hard drive. What do you need a zip drive for?" Such a direct assault on his primal need calls for reinforcements, so he studies up for the attack. The first prong of this invasion into our funds is a general lecture on Why Zip Drives Are Good in General. This is quickly followed by What I Could Do If I Had a Zip Drive. Well, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn what you could do if you had a zip drive. My response calls for a different tactic. Appeal to the keeper of the funds' own needs. Lecture number three is What You Could Do with My Zip Drive That Would Improve Your Life and Enhance Your Own Computer Experience. But, exactly whose hard drive is this zip drive going to be connected to? Yours or mine? Here the thinking gets very murky. It's going to be some kind of shared experience, although the color printer and scanner from our last shared experiences are currently very firmly hooked up to his computer. The weekend progresses. As I do my own computer work, or wash dishes, or fold laundry, I am continually assaulted by a man rushing into the room as if we'd won the lottery and saying breathlessly, "You know what we could do, babe, if we had a zip drive?" followed by a cataloguing of vast quantities of upgrades we could acquire, the secure life we could live knowing all our files were backed up on a single disk, the rape and pillage of all our friends' computers as we exchange programs in a single zip. Just think of the possibilities! Think of the life we could live! Think of the data we could store! What data? All you ever do is keep hooking up more peripherals to the computer. You haven't even produced any data yet. You are all cables and no data. The zip drive is coming Air Borne Express, any day now.