Have you ever noticed how the simple act of strapping on headphones can seal you off into a small, isolated bubble of emotions?
I was on a long flight earlier this summer, and the only movie on the menu that I hadn’t seen was Marley & Me. I didn’t want to see it for a number of reasons, but mainly because I knew the dog was going to die, and I hate pet-death movies. But I told myself, Hey, you already know the dog dies, so maybe it won’t be that sad.
Fast-forward 55 minutes, and there I am, squished in between two newspaper-reading businessmen, sobbing uncontrollably. We’re talking balls-to-the-wall, first-boyfriend-just-dumped-you-for-your-best-friend kind of tears, shooting out of my eyeballs. The flight attendant passed by to ask if we wanted peanuts, and she ended up offering me a box of Kleenex instead because I was so clearly distraught over the death of this fictional dog. I can only imagine what it felt like to be sitting next to me, completely out of the loop as to why I was in hiccuping sobs with my face glued to this 4-inch screen. Pathetic.
Then there are the iPod walks. Does anyone else do those? I really wish I could rail against people who are constantly walking with headphones, because I’ll be the first to admit that it’s obnoxious. We close ourselves off to each other and the world, not to mention the risk of being hit by a car or a fat policeman on a Segway.
Last year, I had a mile-long trek to work every morning, so I would strap on my iPod and let it shuffle it’s little heart out. Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player” comes on (a strong start, iPod shuffle!), and I’m timing my steps to the beat and gyrating at every corner in my pencil skirt and pumps. I picture myself at that club in “Save the Last Dance,” where the white girl shows off her moves to a room full of highly rhythmic and talented black people. Then the song fades to Radiohead, “Exit Music,” and my face goes somber and pensive as I contemplate the meaning of life and the plight of the Afghan woman.
This won’t do, I decide, and I skip ahead to a “Let It Bleed,” that gloriously raunchy Rolling Stones tune. Next thing I know, I’ve kicked off my shoes and decided to walk barefoot. “What a square,” I think to myself as that man walks by with his briefcase, and I seriously consider playing hooky from work and pounding pints of Guinness at the local pub.
Meanwhile, the outside world is still the same. Everyone walking past me just goes about his routine, totally clueless about the emotional rollercoaster I’m riding to work. I remove my headphones, greet the receptionist, and resume life as a social, interactive being.
This can’t be healthy, right?