By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: There is nothing derogatory about the term 'fan boy' says Alex Lee, the man you who is prepared to wait in line for 50 hours to be the first person in Australia to purchase an iPad 2. Not that Alex will be Australia’s first iPad 2 owner – he already has one – and he’s not Australian.

The 28-year-old American technology consultant and (almost) professional backpacker picked one up in Boston, Massachusetts upon its launch there. In fact, this odyssey, spanning which started at 3pm on Wednesday afternoon, is not even for personal gain: he’s giving his soon-to-be-acquired tablet computer to his sister, who is currently living in Dubai.

Alex is the first of what is expected to be a very long line along George Street, Sydney, for the iPad 2. Such lines will be replicated across Australia between now and 5pm Friday afternoon as Australians clamour to purchase the latest gadget from impresario Steve Jobs’ renowned production line.

So why is Alex queuing so diligently for something he already owns, when could just as easily pick one up after the rush has died down? His answer is both ebullient and proud: “I want to break my own record,” was his bullish response. And that record, for waiting in line to hand over his hard earned? “32 hours”.

Alex is part of a now enormous number of dedicated Apple fans that will brave weather, tedium and derision to be the first to enter a new store, buy a new gadget or even just catch a glimpse of Steve Jobs.

“I have never met Jobs,” Alex said. “Though I did once see him, getting out of his car when he was supposedly on medical leave.”

But whilst Alex might be mockingly called a ‘fanboy’ by those that either aren’t so keen or dislike Apple altogether, he is more circumspect. He knows he fits the description but he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. He also doesn’t think Apple is a cult.

“It’s not a cult. I see a cult as something where people are forced to do something, I’m not forced to do this.”

Alex said that Apple cares for its people. On a macro level, he cites how the head office in Cupertino has moved swiftly to ensure its employees in Japan have been kept safe and healthy in the wake of the earthquakes and tsunamis. On a micro level, the team at the Sydney store is letting him use the bathroom, grabbing him snacks and letting him use the store Wi-Fi during his long vigil.

During our chat, a number of pedestrians stop to say hello, and it is during this time that Alex does his best to disprove the stereotype on tech geeks being insular, unsocial and stand-offish. Whilst undoubtedly a very intelligent renaissance man, Alex is happy to chat to two young Chinese girls who quiver at the sight of his iPad 2.

During this conversation and through all the sideways glances of pedestrians questioning his sanity, Alex keeps his smile and is happy to keep chatting. This level of obduracy will surely be needed over the next 46 hours.

Alex Lee checking out on his iPad 2.

Know Your Ultimate FanBoy: The Alex Lee File

DOB: 15 May 1982
Starsign: Taurus
Occupation: Tech consultant/backpacker
Education: International Business at Macquarie Uni and Endicott College (USA)
Favourite Apple Product: iPad 2
Favourite App: FaceTime
Favourite Telco: T-Mobile (USA) and Vodafone (Australia)
Favourite Retailer: Apple and J.Press
Favourite Musician: Chet Baker
Favourite Film: Legally Blonde
Favourite Sport: Rowing (crew)
Favourite TV show: White Collar
Favourite Actor/Actress: Peter Krauss and Reese Witherspoon
Favourite Superhero: Steve Jobs action figure
Favourite Play: Jewtopia and Priscilla
Favourite Book: A Boy I Once Knew by Elizabeth Stone
Favourite Food: Japanese and Persian
Favourite Drink: Iced milo