- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

They are taking over the city, these alienlike life forms who have a wire tumbling out of their ear and a vacant, eerie quality about them as they move unsteadily about the environment, oblivious to the sounds and sights around them.

Do not be alarmed by their disembodied facades, their “Night of the Living Dead” state.

They are relatively harmless creatures, sad though they are. They are the IPod people, and they are growing in number.

Do not try to converse with these disengaged souls. And do not try to pet or feed them.

They have retreated into their cocoons, and they only ask that you not run over them as they blindly cross a busy intersection.

They have no self-preservation cares. They have only the conceit of their downloaded music and the accessory of the new millennium that is attached to their waistlines.

Staring is permitted. The IPod people will not notice. They usually are too busy trying to mimic the sounds being transferred to their brains.

They are at one with their tunes. The person gyrating down the sidewalk is not a sufferer of Tourette’s syndrome. The person is merely feeling the power of the lyrics, succumbing to poorly executed dance moves that elicit the snickers of passers-by.

The IPod people do not expect you to understand. They are the proud members of a cult, who have checked out from the universe and are only too proud of their decision.

Some have a wire in one ear, and a cell phone in the other, and a stimulation overload that eventually must lead to madness.

The IPod people might as well wear a T-shirt that reads “Please mug me.” You could lift the wallet or purse of an IPod person, and the IPod person would continue mouthing unintelligible lyrics while dancing up a sweat, ignorant of the lost possessions.

You probably could steal the IPod as well, so long as the IPod person was talking on a cell phone and checking the e-mails from a Blackberry.

The IPod people are extraordinary multitask sorts, capable of firing off a plethora of e-mails and text messages while holding an animated phone conversation by cell phone and shaking their booties.

The IPod people make no apologies for shutting out the world, even if it sometimes would behoove them to be vaguely aware of the vehicle bearing down on their spasmodic bodies.

The only thing worse than an IPod person is the IPod person who regales you with stories of all the music that has been downloaded into the little white box.

You really don’t care if one day the IPod person has elective surgery that results in a microchip with every song every recorded being planted in the IPod person’s brain.

You have seen the future, and it is the future of the IPod people, with the occasional IPod person’s carcass littering the roadway, the legs still twitching to the tune emanating from the IPod.

The city plants deer-crossing signs near its parks. The city might want to consider posting IPod-crossing signs as well. After all, a deer reacts better to vehicular headlights than an IPod person. A deer might freeze in fright at an approaching vehicle, while the IPod person might start dirty-dancing.

Pedestrians always have the right of way. But what about the IPod people? They are the kind of people who could walk into a construction zone and not realize a working crane is in their path.

The riddle of the IPod people is the jogging IPod person with the pulse-monitoring gizmo. The jogging IPod person reveals both a strong commitment and compelling failure for preserving good health, given the distraction of the contraption in the ear.

The IPod people have elected to keep the world at a distance, which is fine.

Just don’t blame the world if bad stuff happens because of the IPod.

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