The Crack-Up


Our Daily Correspondent


Image via Markscheider/Wikimedia Commons

For longer than I care to admit, I have been unable to scroll down on my computer. This is only the latest in a series of laptop-related inconveniences, but, given the nature of my employment, is something of a problem. If you manage to catch the scrolling bar to the far right of the screen, you can generally navigate okay, but if you relax your vigilance for a moment and move your cursor, that option is closed, and it is necessary to refresh the screen. At least, that’s the only way I know how to do it.

I have lived without video and Flash capacity for some five months now, and it has been a rich, full life, but this scrolling situation seems untenable. I am going to have to go to the Genius Bar, a prospect I dread.

It’s not that I mind the trip, the wait, or even the well-deserved condescension of the Geniuses. At least this time around, there is no varicolored crayon wax mysteriously covering my computer, leading me to mumble some absurd, half-formed lie that implied I either had small children or was a preschool teacher. I’m just terrified that they’re going to tell me the computer can’t be saved, that the scrolling is indicative of a more serious—terminal—illness. (From this you might imagine how conscientiously I deal with actual medical issues.)

I’m not quite so far gone as to be blind to the madness of this behavior—like one of those people on Hoarders who sort of knows he has a lot of stuff, but clearly doesn’t really believe it’s a problem. I have enough sanity to be humiliated, and the final words of “These Days” drone endlessly in my head:

Please don’t confront me with my failures / I had not forgotten them.

In such moments, I feel a certain futility, as if to do something normal and efficient might imply that I was, in fact, a normal and efficient person. Which, of course, would be a sham. And so the self-doubt fulfills itself.

In my defense, it’s next to impossible to make an appointment at the Genius Bar when you can’t navigate your computer screen. It’s a catch-22 they really ought to address. In fact, the more I think about it, this really isn’t my problem at all. I think it’s institutional. It hints at something deep.