Monday, November 24, 2008

My laptop: a love story

The first computer I ever touched was an Amiga 500 that my Dad brought home one day in a box. Turned on this grey square monstrosity offered users an ultra low-fi graphic of a cartoon hand clutching a three-and-a-half floppy against a screen so white it could burn retinas. When the floppy was inserted the machine chug chugged in thanks and then calmly took approximately the same time to load as it would have taken a user to earn a degree in computer science and build a faster computer.

Playing the game of the moment - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since you asked - required players to have not only possession of the three floppies on which the game was stored but the will to change discs literally EVERY TWO MINUTES. On screen the inch-high Leonardo or Donatello gave the impression of suffering from digital narcolepsy – unable to negotiate more than a single obstacle before exhaustion overcame him and the direction INSERT DISC TWO helpfully appeared above his bowed head.

I thought it was fucking amazing.

Every day after school I'd come home with but one thought in my head: how to get to Level Three. Those were indeed halcyon days and twenty plus years on I have nothing but fond memories of the bulky monitor and the CPU that sounded like a jet engine taking off. Twice. Even the keyboard, with its smattering of crumbs from biscuits ill-advised consumed mid game, or (just once Dad) sticky cordial dripped onto keys. I can still recall the joy of finishing Bubble Bobble with my brother, the mammoth Space Quest sessions that ultimately required the entire family's input, playing the shameless unapologetic Mario Brother rip-off The Great Giana Sisters the day I found out my cat had been run over in our neighbour's driveway. Good times.

And while my family and, more recently myself, have gone through a few different computers in the intervening years there has never been a machine to touch my heart with quite the same degree of joy as the Amiga 500. Until this weekend, obviously.

Do you remember that scene from Y Tu Mama Tambien? (And if you tell me that movie is soft porn I will cut you). Do you remember the first time you saw Gael Garcia Bernal's beautiful face and body in that movie? All pouty lips, tea coloured skin and a certain languid shrimpiness that made the too-big beauty of his face palatable? Of course you do - that's exactly when you and I fell madly in love.

That pang of frustrated longing is pretty much how I felt when I spied my new laptop this weekend. How embarassing. I don't tend to think I'm terribly acquisitive. Yes I have a mild book buying problem and, yes, in truth, I may own several more trashy DVD box sets than are STRICTLY necessary but when it comes to the big expensive shit I can't really be bothered. Sure I love my car but it is almost as old as I am and, in the words of a dear friend this week, "it's looking a bit shitty" these days. Similarly my phone was chosen by virtue of being the cheapest model in the shop, while my clothes are... well I mean I LIKE wearing and buying clothes but to suggest that any item of clothing in my wardrobe costs more than my prized 1930s Great Gatsby edition would be a lie.

But the laptop... I couldn't resist. Much like Gael Garcia Bernal the moment I saw it I wanted it. Desperately. It's not arguably necessary: I have a laptop at home, it's just that it no longer closes and can therefore not be said to be portable in any conventional sense of the word. Even so a new model still seemed an extravagance. And yet... fuck it. I love it. It is a thing of beauty and it fits in my satchel - my satchel! And HONESTLY if you had a pint sized Gael Garcia Bernal you could pop in your bag and pull out when desired wouldn't you be all over that? Damn straight.


Dave said...

I love my new laptop. I totally get where you're coming from. However I would like to point out that I was not lucky enough to hve an amiga - i had to make do with an Atari 2600 in my youth. Asteroids, Frogger, you name it.

my name is kate said...

Heh Atari you lo-fi cretin.

Andrew said...

Ah a funny post, i also have fond memories of my first computer,a Commodore 64. Cutting edge at the time with a whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM. In the beginning you loaded games using a TAPE drive, it took so long to load that we would play a game of chasey in the big tree out the back while we waited.

mike g said...

omg, I totally copied that Ninja Turtles game from someone and gleefully disk swapped my way to bliss!

my name is kate said...

Those were... halcyon days...