My iPod and I got along well at first. It played the music that I told it to and for my part I only filled it with the choicest of tunes, masterpieces by artists ranging from Alabama to WHAM! Things were good. I was able to navigate the busy streets of New York with virtually no human contact, having long ago learned how to avoid eye-contact with the peons around me, lest they view it as some sort of sign of respect or acknowledgment. Now I had my musical cocoon, wrapping me in the immortal harmonies of Kenny Loggins and keeping their vulgar conversations from my ears. I was invincible, striding down the street with only my sense of smell to tell me the difference between Broadway and a field of happy posies.
Occasionally as I strode along a fellow iPoder would try to make eye contact with me, a desperate plea for acceptance, I avoided them of course, far too concerned with the gentle lyricism of Frankie Goes to Hollywood to acknowledge another person whose taste in music was clearly inferior to my own. They might be listening to something outrageous, like Cutting Crew or the Knack, pretenders to Frankie's poppie throne. I began to worry though, worry that my iPod was signifying that I was one of them. A member of the underclass of deviants that fill up their 20 gigs with unreleased Aimee Mann songs and go out to try and have sex with someone wearing thick black glasses.
It was about this time that my iPod began to fail. It was subtle at first, it would refuse to play a song or two, maybe Green Day's Basket Case or Sublime's Caress Me Down. Nothing too serious, Total Eclipse of the Heart still worked fine. Then slowly, over time, things got worse. Good songs started having troubles too, things like Voices Carry or Let's Hear it For the Boy. I tried reformatting, but it would just move the problems from one song to the other. The iPod was taunting me. It had waited until I came to rely on it, to be seduced by its vast musical library, and now it was lashing out by denying me access to the very music it promised to deliver. Naturally I became irritated, but what could I do? I had come to rely on its beautiful music to carry me through the day, and now it was betraying me. For weeks I made due listening to whatever music it would allow me to hear, knowing that somewhere along the way I had become the servant and it the master, but that there was nothing I could do to break its hold over me. Mozart, Wagner, Junior Walker & the All-Stars. I listened to whatever songs it chose to let me hear and I stopped fighting it. I served it faithfully, keeping it clean and recharging it from time to time, and it led me around by the nose like a prize bull, fat for slaughter.
But I was not the one who died. No. One fateful day in February my iPod and I went out to videotape the unveiling of the Gates in Central Park, and as if by magic when I headed back to the subway after hours of grueling work in the cold I found my iPod covered by a thin black soot in my pocket. When I attempted to turn it on it would not work. My musical shield was broken and I was left alone, in the street, the sounds of car horns and babbling children stinging my unprotected ears. The ride home was long and loud, and I faced it aurally naked. Someone asked me for the time and I, having no way to pretend I had not heard him, gave it over without a fight. I was beaten.
When I returned home I resolved to have my iPod fixed as soon as possible so that its music might once again grace my ears and take me to new heights of pleasure. I was busy though and a week passed without it. A week where I learned that I did need my iPod to survive in the world, no. Although many unpleasant sounds reached my ears I found that I was strong enough not only to survive but to thrive despite them. I rediscovered the beauty of birdsong and the wind in the trees. I learned the joys of eavesdropping on private conversations and hearing the humiliations of rejected pick-up artists. It was a revelation.
Freed from the iPod's tyranny I could not go back. I put it on a high shelf and vowed never again to take it down. I covered it with paper to keep my eye from crossing its sleek plastic body and once more being seduced by the promises held within. Promises that were soon revealed to be lies! And yet when its warranty period came up I renewed, my mind filled with shameful lust and desire. And I have not thrown it away, it sits untouched and alone, waiting for me to break down and restore its evil powers. It waits in silence and without fear, its evil heart stilled for now but always ready for its next opportunity to corrupt and rule my mind. Sometimes I fear that it will wait forever.