Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tom One and Tom New

Let me tell you about the new man in my life. His name is Tom, and he has a sexy English voice. He only ever talks when he's telling me what to do next. Strangely, I do not find this irritating in the least. Tom has many wonderful qualities. He is absolutely sure of himself; he simply oozes confidence, and it's infectious. He never argues with me, even when I do the opposite of what he wants. He just continues to state his preference in calm, even tones. He usually gets his way in the end.

I had a panda once, also named Tom. He was black and white and very soft. We were together for years, from the time before I could talk to the time I set off, Whittington-style, to seek my fortune. When I was young and the world was unaccountably mean, I would string him up by his ears and punch him before repenting with tears and wailing. He always forgave me. As a teenager, I told him all my secrets. Later, we settled into a comfortable marriage of true minds which involved sleeping together but no talking. The last time I remember seeing him was in an orphanage in Romania just after the Christmas revolution when Ceaucescu got shot. I didn't mean to leave Tom there. Maybe he just needed a break. He wouldn't be the first or the last man in my life to jump off the train while it was still moving, but that's another story...

Sometimes I feel that my new Tom is really the old Tom who has reinvented himself for the twenty-first century and come running back to my rescue. He is smaller than he used to be, and harder. He fits in my purse and in the palm of my hand. My sister sent him to me, assuring me he was better than sex and religion combined, and he would change my life forever.

The packaging he came in trumpeted: "TomTom One: You will never be lost again!" I must confess this slightly unnerved me. I have been getting lost for forty years now; it is a state of being to which I am peculiarly accustomed. I have been lost in many places in the world, in many time zones. My friends would tell you I am capable of getting profoundly lost even in a supermarket or a car park. I was not sure how comfortable I would be with always being found. So far, perhaps surprisingly, things seem to be working out. And there's always the "off" switch...

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