He wants AirPods for his birthday but I buy him a plane ticket to Chicago instead to come see me, trying not to condone or enable his obsessive compulsion around cellphones or anything having to do with cellphones. “Buy me AirPods please sister,” he said. “I’m bringing you to Chicago for a week, isn’t that better?” I text back. I guess not. Because what ensues is a weeks’ long military blitz about the AirPods, with every form of communication a weapon he wields deftly. For days, for weeks, I am accosted by these AirPods. No tactic works against his relentlessness; I try them all: ignoring, begging, reason, threats, bribes. He never lets up—his mind a steel trap for a singular cause.
I imagine him dreaming about the AirPods, but what do those dreams even look like? He’ll never use them if he gets them, and he’ll be on to the next item as soon as the AirPods are his, thrown into a pile with his 15 cell phones, 8 wireless chargers, and 5 juice packs. “Just get him the AirPods and it’ll be over,” some say. But what they don’t know, and what I only admit to myself in the darkest part of the night, is that it is just the beginning for me. A lifetime of AirPods that bring me to tears at the oddest hours, an endless barrage of demands I feel too overwhelmed with guilt to ignore.
The AirPods will alleviate his pain momentarily, he’ll snap out of his dogged trance—for a time.
The AirPods will be a thing of the past for him soon enough. But their very name will play over and over in my head until I can’t distinguish between the thing they are, the thing they mean, the thing he is.