Pet Portrait, by William Kincaid
I never thought I needed an Ipod. For one thing, I’m prone to losing things, and even if I manage to keep hold of my goods (ha ha, holding my goods!), I work in da hood and usually get jacked, once in the spring and once in the fall, so it’s best not to become too attached to material things, like my lunch money or driver’s license, much less an electronic luxury. I figured if I had a pod I’d have to read the instruction manual to learn how to program it – mama don’t read no manuals! – and I don’t like those ear buds on account of I have tiny, little earholes, and Ipods make you deaf or maybe give you brain cancer, like cell phones do, and besides, there’s always a song playing in my head anyway, so maybe there’d be weird interference. For a couple of months I’ve had Chaka Kahn’s funkinfantastic “Tell Me Something Good” stuck in my head, which is probably the best default brain song I have ever had, though it has led to some awkward instances in which I have asked a question (like of my new doctor), and then immediately demanded, “Tell me, tell me, tell me!” Once I just barely caught myself before I told a total stranger in the peanut butter aisle that I could “groove like a mother fucker.” I’m pretty sure that those words are not actually written in the lyrics, but they definitely are in my brain version of the song.
Anyway, a friend finally gave me a pod for my birthday about five years ago, and let me tell you, I have changed my I-tune, yessiree, Bob! I loved that Ipod, which has since been stolen, and every other pod I’ve ever had: Babypod, Juniorpod, Pod III, Newpod, Tinypod, Mypod, Bluepod, and the latest one, Sunpod. My whole family pitched in and bought me Sunpod. She’s gold, and “You are our sunshine” is engraved on her back. So cool! She does everything; I can make movies on her, watch videos, or listen to (and pause or back up) the radio – Holla, NPR! I’ll never miss another Nina Totenberg word! She has a pedometer and I can see what time it is in Maine on her, and I can listen to podcasts, and she fits in my pocket. I listen when I take the bus or go to the airport, so I don’t have to make conversation with others (stranger danger!), and when I go for my walks or ride my bike. I love the pod!
Lately, Sunny has been doing some weird voodoo shit. Songs I never downloaded have just popped up in my library. I have a whole Posies album in there. I don’t know the Posies; I’m not even sure I like them! Some of the new songs don’t even have artists or names attached to them, like the mysterious and inscrutable “Track 16.” I have a lot of songs on Sunpod in languages that I don’t understand, but “Track 16” is in Latvian or Mandarin or Urdu; really who can tell which one, when all those languages sound like a bunch of made up nonsense, right? Still and all, “Track 16” is kind of catchy, especially the part about “yo mandu izba corik, subar! Click click,” so I don’t really mind.*
That’s not all though. Sometimes I’ll be listening to my New Yorker fiction podcast (don’t judge!), and all of a sudden, Sunpod will decide that’s enough of that, and just switch me, willy-nilly, to something like Queens of the Stone Age (again, not so bad) or Iggy Pop, which can be disconcerting, because Iggy recorded really loudly, and if you’re not prepared, he can blow the top of your head off. Conversely, I have imported an Okkervil River cd SIX, count ’em, SIX times, and it refuses to show up on Sunpod. It has been DENIED, REJECTED for reasons unknown. Sunny has a mind of her own.
This is not the first time my electronics have surpassed me in intelligence and taken control. I had a toaster that would sometimes just depress its own little lever and pop up a delicious, toasty slice of nothing every now and again. My alarm clock refuses to be reset, so I have to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, even on weekends or holidays. And my answering machine just started talking in a new voice…oh, wait a minute…that’s just me, talking like a robot. I forgot I did that. Gotta lay off the Nyquil, I tell you what! Anyway, you see my point, right? We have allowed all these electronic thingymajigs into our lives, and everyone knows that eventually they will become Cyborgs and just take over. Just the other day, Sunny begged me to “press your space face close to mine, love” – she crooned to me in David Bowie’s voice, and I have to say, the thought of crossing over into a world where I was the one who was programmed all full of cool stuff was really enticing! What if I could pause right at a moment of of intense joy or pleasure and just stay there, indefinitely, until finally I pressed play, and moved on, only to rewind and do it all again?! I could completely delete irritants like Click and Clack the Tappit Brothers or my principal right out of my life, and if something unpleasant did sneak in, I could just fast forward right through it! Best of all, I could probably patch into other people and see the videos they are playing in their heads…I’m sure a SuperSunPod could totally do that! I’d finally understand what’s up with people these days!
It’s official…my new goal is to become Mepod! Now all I need is to read the manual to figure out how to program myself…but I think I lost it…or maybe it got stolen…Damn.
*Even in languages I do understand, I am often unsure of the words. For example, remember when I told you I got Spoon’s Transference cd? Well, I love it and my favorite song on it is called “I Saw the Light.” I’ve listened to it about 12,000 times, and I always sing it really loudly, too. The other day I got to thinking about the part that I sing, “I felt so green dog and light.” For awhile, that actually made sense to me – green means all natural, hopeful and go, dogs are real happy, and light is pure and not heavy. That’s a mighty fine way to feel, right? But then it struck me that those might not be the exact words the band was singing, so I looked it up, and man-oh-man, was I mistaken! Those aren’t the words at all! Unfortunately, now that I know better, I still don’t get what the words mean, so I just decided I am going to stick with my version. Spoon won’t mind. I’m sure they love me like I love them. http://lyrics.wikia.com/Spoon:I_Saw_The_Light
BONUS: This video is really bad, but all the ones I watched for this song were. However, it serves my purpose really well, and I think it’s funny that someone out there thought that this was worth putting it out on YouTube. Turns out, to me, it was totally worth it! Thanks, dude who put this out on YouTube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzBPOpUPCYk&feature=related