WHEN I LEFT my old job a couple of weeks ago, I had to turn in my BlackBerry. I won't lie. I was attached to it; so much so that my daughter, Eve, once caught me scrolling through it when I was supposed to be asleep.
She called it my electronic wife.
I bristled at the time, but looking back, I think Eve might have been right. My BlackBerry was much more than my phone. She was my confidante. I told her where I was going and when I had to be there. She knew who I called, texted and emailed. She even knew what time I got up in the morning. But alas, our relationship is over, and as much it hurts me to write this, I've had to move on.
I thought when I got a younger, slimmer electronic wife, I'd be happier. But I can't relate to this new girl. She's just too complicated. She's got a touchscreen, and if I don't touch it just right, the moment is ruined. She's got all these buttons, and just like a woman, she won't tell me how she wants me to press them, because, well, in her little electronic mind, she thinks I should already know.
Sometimes I tell myself things will change. Maybe these are just growing pains. Maybe we'll eventually get used to one another. Maybe things will turn around. Oh, who am I kidding? It's just not working out. I thought my new iPhone 4 would make me feel young and smart, but she makes me feel old and dumb.
It started from the moment I heard her calling out to me from the back room at Best Buy, telling me I would only have to put a dollar down instead of the $100 they wanted for the iPhone 4S, or the $200 they wanted for the iPhone5. For just a dollar to start, the iPhone 4 would give me unlimited calls and texts, one gigabyte of data per month, and all the Smartphone capabilities I could handle. Sure, the monthly bill would be triple the cost of my Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go plan, but the iPhone 4S would be just like my BlackBerry - only better.
She'd give me apps and earphones, an iTunes store and the ability to be her own mobile hot spot. It was almost like she was whispering in my ear, telling me she'd be the best I ever had.
There was a catch, though. She wanted a commitment. I had to agree to a two-year relationship, or she'd end it right there at the Best Buy phone counter.
I thought about it. I anguished over it. Luckily, Eve was in the store with me, and like any 11-year-old girl who loves her dad, she didn't want to see me get hurt. Still, she knew it was time for me to move on. She encouraged me to get the phone.
I wasn't sure. Two years seemed like a long commitment to make. Not that I'm one of those commitment-phobic men! I'd had a five-year relationship with BlackBerry. This felt like I was cheating, like I was betraying the trust we'd built.
If I signed that contract, it wouldn't be because I loved the iPhone. It would be because I was on the rebound from my BlackBerry. And, well, because the iPhone is to the BlackBerry as Beyonce is to Madonna. One's got all the moves. The other's just holding on.
Believing that the iPhone 4 was my future, I took a deep breath and signed the contract. And when I finally said yes to the iPhone's siren song, when she finally had papers on me, she snatched the rug out from under my feet, took off her glamorous silver outfit and put on a housecoat and slippers.
She told me she was too delicate to walk around undressed, so I had to buy a $50 Otterbox cover.
When I got her home things got worse. She demanded that I play by her rules. She made me sign in with an Apple ID. I had to give her my email address and password. I had to sign on to my Wi-Fi network. I felt like a dunce on a stool.
Thankfully, I had an 11-year-old to explain the iPhone basics to me, but in truth I still feel lost. Not just because I can't find the speed-dial keys, but because my emotions are in a shambles.
Yes I miss my BlackBerry and I hate my iPhone 4. But at least I didn't get an iPhone 5. They call you stupid out loud.
Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books, including his latest novel, The Dead Man's Wife (Minotaur Books), and the humor collection Daddy's Home: A Memoir of Fatherhood and Laughter. The married father of three has been featured on NPR and CNN, and has written on parenting for Essence and other publications. He created the literacy program Words on the Street. His column appears Tuesdays. More at Solomonjones.com.