Part I: In Which We Introduce the $1200 bottle of Three-Buck Chuck.
Once upon a time, I was living in Minneapolis. I had just moved into a new apartment, and I had a new Mac laptop. I was going through one of those phases in life when I was attempting self-improvement. Whenever I move I have this brief illusion that in this new place I am going to be an entirely different person: in this apartment, I'll clean every day! I'll finally read Tolstoy! No more reality television for me!
In the spirit of self-improvement and generosity, I offered to drive a car-less friend out to the suburbs so that he could get some things at Trader Joe's. I didn't really need groceries myself at this particular moment, but obviously in my new apartment I was going to be the kind of person who had things from Trader Joe's on hand, so I figured I might as well go.
It dates the story somewhat that I didn't have a smart phone at the time, or this next part would have never happened. I had only my terrible, terrible sense of direction, a plastic bag full of maps I refused to consult, and memories of previous trips out to St. Louis Park to guide me.
I was fairly certain I knew how to get to TJ's, but because of my poor track record when it comes to directions, after picking up the friend, I called this guy and asked him for directions. Now, this dude is usually far more on top of things than me, so even though his directions sounded funky, I took them over the route I'd previously planned on.
I'd just read a section of the friend-in-my-car's novel for workshop, so I was rambling on and on about it and my thoughts on character motivation in general, when it became clear that I was way too far west on 1-94 and Trader Joe's was nowhere in sight. I called this guy again, who confirmed that his directions were, in fact, crap (this is maybe the only time I've ever encountered a fuck-up from this guy on a practical matter). He confessed my original route would have been better (this is maybe the only time my instincts about directions were a more accurate touchstone than someone else's).
Fabulous. Also, nothing punctures your authority/makes you feel stupid like rambling on about how your passenger absolutely must not do x or y thing with the character in his novel and then confessing you've been driving in totally the wrong direction ("you seeeee, the thing about chaaaracter motivation is -- hold on, let me just figure out how to turn around"). And this wouldn't have even happened if I'd just gone the way I wanted to in the first place!
I was unduly irritated by the whole thing, even though we eventually got to Trader Joe's. My friend bought his groceries. I didn't really need groceries, but took the opportunity to buy three bottles of Trader Joe's cheap Charles Shaw wine -- three bottles for nine dollars: not bad! Plus, I'd just inherited a small wine rack from a friend for my new apartment -- I was clearly going to become the kind of real, grown-up person who has a wine rack with bottles waiting on hand, in her apartment that she cleans every day, so that, if she chooses to, of an evening -- while reading Tolstoy or watching a classic of cinema -- she can sip delicately on some Pinot Noir.
All three bottles of red wine were in one paper bag, which I carried out by its paper handles as I left the store with my friend, my equanimity somewhat returned to me. As we approached my car, one of the paper handles broke, the bag clunked to the ground, and a bottle broke, spilling wine everywhere. Totally awesome.
Oh well, I thought, that's still only nine dollars for two bottles of wine! Not so bad! I may be a clumsy wine-breaker with no sense of direction, but at least I conserve money!
Part 2: The Universe Doesn't Want You to Support Independent Cinema or Theater.
So obviously, a few weeks later I spilled three-buck Chuck on my new Mac laptop. Now, whenever you say that to anyone ("I spilled wine on my new Mac laptop"), they instantly assume that you got drunk out of your skull and, like, attempted to use your computer while very drunk, and thus, you know, of course you spilled on it (what did you expect?), and even when you clarify "I wasn't drunk at the time" they give you a smug smirk, certain that they know better (bad things happen to bad people!)
In fact, I remember the night it happened very well. I actually went to go see a show by Off-Leash Area (you can watch a clip of that very show here!). I was still in my spirit-of-self-improvement phase. I felt pretty smug that I'd supported independent theater -- a small local theater group who put on innovative shows in their garage! That was the kind of person I was now. I came home and ate a healthy meal that I'd actually prepared myself, trying to keep the smug, self-reliant, grown-up theme going. I put in a movie -- I started renting movies from a independent video rental place near my new apartment: it was called Cinema Revolution. Just walking in there and renting a Truffaut movie made me feel like the hipster grown-up I'd always planned on becoming.
As the cap to my exquisitely worthy evening, I plucked a bottle of Charles Shaw red wine from my wine rack (!), uncorked it, poured myself a glass and settled down of my sofa, ready to watch my Truffaut classic. I placed the glass of red wine down onto a coaster on my coffee table.
I put it down wrong. It toppled over and spilled all over my computer, which I'd completely forgotten was sitting on the coffee table as well. My laptop was also upside down, meaning the wine ran right into the, you know, delicate parts.
I mean, really? This couldn't have happened when I was eating pizza and watching Rock of Love? Then I'd at least feel like there was some karmic rebuke involved.
I did my best. I took the computer apart. I tried to remove all red wine. I went to bed (at a reasonable hour!) and hoped the laptop would magically work in the morning.
Part Three: I go to the suburbs again.
I drove out to the suburbs again, this time to the Apple Store in Edina.
They asked me what had happened. I lied.
Brief piece of worldly advice: when you dump liquids on your Apple product, and then you take it into the store, don't lie. They will know.
"So what happened?"
"It, um. It stopped working."
"Did anything happen to it?"
"Um. Not that I know of."
"Did anything get spilled on it?"
I'd really, really tried to remove all remnants of wine stain. Honestly, I did. But with eagle, Mac-genuis eyes, they poked around and found a teeny, tiny, red stain.
"This looks like organic material!" they crowed. "Are you sure nothing got spilled on it?"
"Ummm...." I knew I'd been busted. "Maybe when I, like, wasn't looking?"
"Do you live with someone?"
I had a great warranty and it was still valid (because the computer was brand fucking new!) but if you spill something on your Apple Product, they don't pay a single red cent for repairs. I think this is unfair because 1) Obviously discrimination against clumsy morons like me; 2) Shouldn't Apple Products be able to withstand a little liquid? I mean, they can do all this stuff but, boo-hoo, a little spill and they're dead forever? It's too easy. It's like how Kryptonite always shows up in some weird-ass way so that Superman can't solve his problems too easily (omygod! kryptonite handcuffs! Kryptonite apple sauce!). It's a too-obvious weakness.
Anyway, so they were like "We can fix it, but you're SOL in terms of paying for it," and I accepted this situation (obviously my karmic punishment for, you know, driving a friend to the store and supporting the arts) and waited for them to call me and let me know when it was ready.
But weeks went by and I got no call, which was odd. The Apple Store was usually pretty speedy. And I was at the time in graduate school for writing, which was a little difficult with, you know, nothing to write with (I do not write by hand; sorry, I don't want to deal with my handwriting, either).
Eventually I got the call -- and they were weirdly squirrel-y with me.
"Um, we can't fix it. I mean, we can, but it would cost more than it's worth."
"Are you sure--"
"Yes. You need to buy a new computer."
"But I thought you said--"
"We found traces of organic material on it."
"I know. That's wine. I spilled wine on it. That's why I needed it fixed in the first place."
"Your computer cannot be fixed."
"And you need to come pick the old computer up."
"But why? I mean, if it's broken--"
"You must pick the old computer up."
So I drove out to the suburbs again. When I asked after my old computer, they brought it out wrapped in a plastic bag and handed it to me in silence. No explanation was ever offered for why the computer had been pronounced fixable and then was discarded forever.
When I got home, I unwrapped the plastic bag to look at my computer. Inside the first layer of plastic, the computer was wrapped in red plastic covered with black biohazard symbols. There was a big white sticker that read
At this point, you're probably thinking, okay, "Yeah right. This bears all the markings of comic hyperbole. Biohazard symbols? You can't mean real, actual biohazard symbols -- that's got to be an exaggeration; the plastic was just red in color and made you think of biohazard symobls."
It was red plastic with real biohazard symbols. They looked like this:
The Apple Store deemed my computer a Biohazard.
I actually have witnesses that can attest to this, because I keep the biohazard-wrapped computer (now useless) around my apartment; I used it to cover up an ink stain on my table and I put mixers and shakers on it when I had parties.
As to the
label, I've got to admit I have no proof. When I saw it, I felt no amusement; I felt only embarrassment. Someone thought I peed on my computer? The whole $1200-dollar-bottle-of-three-buck-Chuck, weeks without a computer, ruining my new computer thing wasn't enough? I had to be further humiliated by the Apple company treating my computer (my new computer! That just got a teeny, tiny bit of wine on it!) as a Biohazard? Because of pee? Were the people at the store waiting for my arrival, calling me the Pee-on-her-Computer girl behind my back?
I ripped the Urine label off and threw it away.
Later, the hilarious aspect of the story occurred to me and I regretted my impulsive action.
I still have no explanation for what happened.
Part Four, Theories About What Happened.
Any explanation for the URINE label is pretty horrifying:
1. Computer always had urine on it (I was using a urine-soaked computer all along!)
2. I peed on computer without realizing it (very specific form amensia/sleep-walking).
3. The people at the Apple Store peed on my computer!
4. The people at the Apple Store are morons and thought small (RED!!) wine stain was urine.
5. People are the Apple Store are jerks and were fucking with me.
6. Something even more horrifying than urine happened to the computer; plastic wrap and URINE label were intended to discourage me from investigating.
Part Five: I am the Cassandra of URINE-labeled computers; I tell the truth, but no one believes.
Here's maybe the worst part of the whole deal: whenever I tell this story (because, c'mon, too weird not to tell!), I basically have to say this:
"I was drinking wine and spilled it on my computer. Then the Apple Company refused to fix because they said I peed on it."
Inevitably, this is interpreted as:
"You got really drunk and peed on your computer, didn't you?"
The more I protest, "No! I wasn't even drunk at the time! And I've done plenty of weird things but peeing on my computer isn't one of them!"
The more people are like, "You totally peed on your computer, didn't you? That's why you're so defensive!"
"No! And even if I had, I'd admit it! I told you this story, didn't I? It would be an even better story if I'd actually peed on my computer! I'd tell the truth! I didn't!"
"Maybe you did and didn't realize it."
"But it was a new computer! And I was being all clean-living at the time!"
"I can't believe you peed on your computer."
Even my parents don't really believe me. They still refer to it as "The computer you peed on" [as in "How long have you had this computer? Since the one you peed on?"]
Part Six: The Moral of the Story.
One could draw the obvious lesson here, which is, don't put a glass of wine down on the same coffee table as your computer. However, I'd like to dig a little deeper and offer some further lessons. Obviously, it's not a good idea to:
1. Do other people favors (see what happened when I drove someone somewhere and took someone else's driving advice?)
2. Buy cheap wine.
3. Drink at home, moderately.
4. Support local theater and independent video stores.
5. Have grand ambitions re: awesomely put-together life, apartment, etc.
I took the whole incident as the universe telling me that even if I tried to be all, like, Look at me! I eat healthy and watch Truffaut movies! inevitably someone would accuse me of peeing on my computer. So the rest of my tenure in that apartment involved another new computer, lots of reality-tv viewing, a fair amount of pizza, and no Tolstoy whatsoever.
That computer survives to this day.
No one peed on me!