“Once you are real, you can’t be ugly, except to those who don’t understand.”
On Friday, I got an iPhone. This acquisition satisfied my years long craving and made me feel hypocritical all at once. I felt a lot of feelings in that Best Buy. But the feeling that I was not expecting was overwhelming guilt. As I sat salivating over the shiny new phone in Eduardo the phone salesman’s hand, I felt a pang in my heart as I looked down at my own sweet BlackBerry.
My BlackBerry deserves better than being cast out in the cold, left to die a slow battery drained death, never to be texted on again. That little phone never gave me a moment’s trouble. I always had service, no matter how many times I dropped it in water or on the hard concrete. It was fast and reliable.
Maybe I’m crazy for superimposing all these emotions and thoughts onto my phone. If so, it’s because of The Velveteen Rabbit. The story of The Velveteen Rabbit, for anyone whose parents either didn’t love them or wanted them to be spared from the intense neuroses that consume me, is that a little boy gets a stuffed rabbit for Christmas. The rabbit, who obviously has feelings, is bullied by the cooler toys who have mechanisms. They think they are real. The rabbit learns that the only way to a toy actually becomes real is to be loved super hard by its owner. The rabbit is the only toy this little kid wants when he has scarlet fever and almost dies, but, cruel irony, when the kid gets better, the rabbit has too many germs on him and has to be burned in a fire so he doesn’t spread scarlet fever into the world. Toy Story has nothing on The Velveteen Rabbit.
There’s more to the story, involving a fairy and a happy ending, but it is that first part that scarred me for life. I have a stuffed Smurf that I would defend with my life if someone tried to burn him. I kept every stuffed animal I was ever given because I was afraid it wouldn’t feel loved the way the Velveteen Rabbit was.
So casting my loyal BlackBerry aside for a newer, cooler phone makes me feel like a soulless harpy. All my phone ever did was exactly what it was supposed to do. But I am an adult now, and adults know that progress comes at a price. I want to play Words with Friends like the cool kids. My iPhone has a sleep machine app. It’s worth it.
But I don’t have to be completely heartless. As my BlackBerry gave a final vibratory death rattle yesterday, I put my hands on either side of it and carefully put it in a drawer, knowing that if I lose my iPhone like a fool, it will be loyally waiting for me.