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Forget driving and texting. First there is walking and iPods.

I don’t have an iPhone. I don’t drive. But I have still been stuck listening to everyone worrying and wincing this summer about how deadly the combination of a car and an iPhone can be.

I could have told everyone this years ago.¬†Apple products may look pretty, but like so many pretty things, danger lies just beneath that tantalizing smooth surface. I mean don’t you think it’s a bit too coincidental that they named their company after the forbidden fruit that caused the very downfall of the human race?

Step back in time with me, if you will:

It may be a hazy memory of life-before-the-iPod, but try to harken back to those first new days when it arrived on the scene and we were all realizing this tiny white machine was Actual Magic. If you can remember that, you’ll understand why, on a bright New York fall day, I am walking about in a bit of a daze: I can’t stop staring at the beautiful little guy I just bought.

This is going to revolutionize my life. In the most important way, perhaps, I will become an actual gym-goer. Yes, I am lazy and I hate the gym. But with Magic, all things are possible. I will create perfect playlists. I will love the gym because it allows me uninterrupted time with my new toy. And I will be the envy of all the other gym-goers. So what if I can’t last longer than 10 minutes on a treadmill? I have an iPod.

So, on the first day of the rest of my life, off to the gym I go. With iPod in hand, I strut proudly through the sweaty crowd of non-iPod owners. I feel everyone’s eyes turning to follow my path. Sunshine has broken through the ceiling and its golden rays are glinting off me. I am shiny. I am beautiful. I am furiously looking for the perfect song to start my new workout life. I glance up and see an open treadmill. All around me people are writhing with jealousy. I flick through the songs with a nimble twist of the thumb and settle on “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop. It is a song of freedom and possibility. I step up on to the treadmill.

And suddenly everything goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Some otherworldly force flings me off the treadmill and I go flying backwards. Luckily, a stationary bike is there to catch me. Unluckily, a man on the stationary bike is caught in the crossfire. He sprawls to the floor. I soon follow. The whole gym is in an uproar. Blood drips from my legs. Blood drips from the man’s head. And Iggy Pop sings from my headphones.

Some idiot had left the treadmill on at 8 mph. But had I settled on my song a few seconds earlier, I would have noticed that the treadmill was a spinning wheel of death just waiting to ricochet a distracted victim off into an innocent bystander. All that magic I had believed in? It is black magic, deadly and full of lies.

Trainers rush over. Patch us up. Promise us a free month of membership. I apologize to the poor bike man. I pull myself together. I think, “Maybe only a few people noticed. Today is the first gym day of the rest of my life. I can’t just walk away! Maybe I failed the iPod. Maybe I need to ease myself into my new life.”

I stumble over to the weight rack and pick a Nina Simone song. “Fodder in her Wings”. It is a song about loss and shame. I grab a 2lbs weight. I pretend to know how to do bicep curls.

A guy comes up. He’s smiling. He must like my iPod. He wants to talk. He probably wants to know what music I’m listening to. He’s kind of cute. I take out my earphones.

“Man! You’re still here? That takes some balls! I can’t believe what happened to you. If that had been me, I would have bailed so fast and gone to get some donuts.”

I hang my head and hobble out the door.


  1. Loony says:

    Maybe, in the end, what you’re saying is really good, our salvation – that we won’t, in fact, be taken over by all these smart little gadgets: they won’t make us better writers or more fit – in the end we still have to do it all ourselves. That it’s not the ab toner widget but our motivation to do ten thousand crunches; that it’s not the Google writer thingy, but our own brains and thirst to explain ourselves or hunger for affirmation or whatever. That in the end all of our human fuck-ups will prevail and undermine, no matter how much Hal hectors. I feel much better now.

  2. Tron says:

    This whole driving while texting “crisis” is some kind of pet project of the New York Times. They published like 8 front page articles about it. Then some legislation got passed and they published 8 more about that. Aren’t wars happening or something? I feel like this is how the New York Times procrastinates.

  3. Melissa says:

    Stories about driving and texting are always a procrastination. See above post as a case in point, please.

  4. sandra742 says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  5. neha says:

    i was marathon reading your blog post and stopped at this one. loved it, think it we all dwelled on the fact that one day we shall die, we may remember to live a bit more! this time when i was travelling, met an old friend and the only details of the past 3 years i wanted to share was the simple moments and nothing more, the job, petty issues, all fall off like termite dust.