March 18, 2005

My iPod Shuffle meditation leads to "Ben Casey."

This morning my iPod Shuffle arrived via FedEx. Maybe I'm the world's biggest sucker for cute elegance, but I don't see how anyone can see this thing in its package and not want to buy it. I bought mine on line, but I'm just astounded by the coolness of the flat, square, green package with its vertical window within which floats the amazingly tiny and minimalist device. I expected to be surprised by how small it was, which you would think would prevent actual surprise, but I was in fact surprised.

It took me a while to open the package, because I spent some time just admiring the package. But eventually I extracted my new toy from its wrapper. Who can look at it and not think of a pack of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum? One almost smells and tastes minty-ness – is that why the package is green? Unlike a pack of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum, the corners are soothingly rounded and (unless you look at the back) there's no writing to disturb the iconic minimalism of the rectangle with its two concentric circles with their five silently articulate symbols:






Ancient memory stirred up by the symbols: the opening sequence of the "Ben Casey" television show. "Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity." You know they have a special U2 edition iPod. I'd like a "Ben Casey" iPod Shuffle with the 5 Apple symbols replaced by the 5 "Ben Casey" symbols. "Infinity" would be the pause button. "Life" could be the + (volume up) button, and "Death" could be the - (volume down) button. Then we'd have to decide whether "Man" or "Woman" got to be the "forward" button, and who'd be the "backward" button. Better make "forward" the woman and escape charges of sexism!

And by the way, wasn't Vince Edwards (Ben Casey) handsome? I was ten years old when that show first came on the air. In those days, everyone had an opinion whether "Ben Casey" was better than the other doctor show that started in 1961, "Dr. Kildare." I was for "Ben Casey," and my sister was for "Dr. Kildare." How can you prefer "Dr. Kildare"? I would demand. Her answer: "Richard Chamberlain is such a dreamboat." I took the position that Vince Edwards was the better man. But he's mean, she would say. Casey was a moody guy, and Kildare a much sweeter man. Kildare was an internist, handling a variety of cases. But Ben Casey was a neurosurgeon, so all the stories were about people with brain problems. Doctor, this iPod is giving me synesthesia!

You'd think an Apple devotee would be more of a Kildare type. But no!

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