BlackBerry whineWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | email@example.com
It would be impossible to choose which of my two sons I love more, but I know which earthly entity comes in fourth, after the boys and my wife: The BlackBerry Curve phone I carry everywhere.
I have delayed writing an ode to this most convenient of conveniences for an exceedingly long time, not wishing to parade our relationship in public for fear of diminishing it through the application of mere words. But its influence and permanence are indisputable, and I am ready to stand in the harsh light of day with my BlackBerry unashamed to confess my devotion.
The device is sometimes referred to as a “crackberry,” in reference to its pervasiveness and addictive nature. There is even a Web site for aficionados, www.crackberry.com, which offers the latest news in applications, updates, news and reviews.
My BlackBerry is in my left hand so often, the trademark BlackBerry “B” logo is imprinted into my palm like the Staff of Ra headpiece was burned into the Nazi Arnold Toht’s hand after he grabbed it from the fire during the fight with Indiana Jones at The Raven in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
To have access to all e-mail and the Internet on a phone still amazes me; I am, after all, old enough to remember 8-track tapes, typewriters and pay phones in public places. To have a device as compact as the BlackBerry serve as the portal to all things online, plus such wonderful applications as the music service Pandora, is a tremendous boon.
A significant portion of my job requires following news and communicating with story sources. I used to have to leave my kids and wife for an hour or so every evening and sit in front of the computer catching up and keeping track.
Now, I can glance over once in awhile and look for that flashing red light that indicates a message of history-altering importance is waiting and give the missive a quick scan without ever leaving the room. It does pull my attention away for a few seconds, but I have learned to wrestle with one son, while pinning down the other for a diaper change without missing so much as a comma.
I often wonder if the BlackBerry is so omnipresent that my 18-month-old son thinks of it as a family member, but that is an issue for him and his future therapist to work out. And I do my best to downplay my love and dependence for the BlackBerry in front of my sons, although they have heard me grumble that the BlackBerry doesn’t fight me about meals, baths, bedtimes and how much TV is acceptable.
Plus, I have found a clever way to integrate some of my quality time with my sons and my quality time with my BlackBerry. One of the kids’ favorite books, “Jamberry” by Bruce Degen, is a fun romp through wordplay about the many kinds of berries that can be picked and shared. It twists and rolls through such Seussian rhymes as “Three berry/Four berry/Hayberry/Strawberry/Finger and pawberry/My berry, your berry.”
And right in the center of this fun-to-read-aloud book comes, “Quickberry!/Quackberry!/Pick me a blackberry!/Trainberry/Trackberry/Clickety-clackberry/Rumble and ramble/In blackberry bramble/Billions of berries/For blackberry jamble.”
Reading this passage aloud not only entertains the kids, it lets my BlackBerry, which sits patiently in the other room, know that it is never far from my thoughts.
The device is also reasonably tough, especially when nestled inside its black leather case embossed with the trademark BlackBerry “B” logo. I have dropped the phone a number of times and it has recovered each time, unlike my 18-month old, who cries if you drop him and lacks an easily accessible battery compartment for reboot purposes.
I did experience one unpleasant moment of worlds colliding, when my older son, who is now turning the corner on 4 years but was then just 2, picked up my precious and dropped it in a toilet. BlackBerries, it turns out, are not waterproof.
There was some solace in the situation, as the bathroom is often the “BlackBerry Utilization Center” I will resort to when I need a few moments of quiet time with my precious. Odds are, if you have communicated with me after 7 p.m., some of these messages have originated from the cool tile surroundings of the upstairs bathroom. I am guessing some of the messages I receive have similar points of origin.
I have been guilty, once or twice, of becoming lost in the BlackBerry’s seductive thrall (Live play-by-play sports coverage! Blog updates! Box office results for “Avatar!” Forwards from friends! Facebook updates! Breaking AP news! Nigerian lottery winnings! Spam from Viagra and Cialis!) and slipping away from my wife’s attention. I know that is rude and when I am caught, I do not protest; the BlackBerry goes back into its case and my attention goes back to her. I’m distracted, not stupid. I know she deserves my full attention, love and support, and nothing that ever appears on my precious is going to compare to her words, gestures and needs.
So, my wife takes center stage and the BlackBerry goes in the corner, out of reach, where it rests untouched and out of the way of our relationship.
As long as my peripheral vision can see that red light when it flashes.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.