The iPod, an Electronic Fountain of Youth

Actress and Day to Day contributor Annabelle Gurwitch has discovered an electronic fountain of youth — it's called an iPod. But like most miracle elixirs, Gurwitch found that the personal music device has some nasty side-effects...

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

And I'm Alex Chadwick.

Dear listeners: if you are under 40, go ahead and turn off the radio, this next story is not for you. But fellow boomers, 40s and over, listen up. Writer and actress Annabelle Gurwitch has made a discovery we may be interested in.

ANNABELLE GURWITCH reporting:

I have a confession to make. I have found the fountain of youth. It's not an elixir. It doesn't make your face appear more youthful, but it might give your body a more youthful appearance. What is it? An iPod - although I prefer to call it the youthinator.

(Soundbite of music)

GURWITCH: A gift had arrived in the mail and sat on my desk for months before my son, eight-years-old, said to me, Mom, you got an iPod. No, I replied, it's so small. I think it's an iPod remote control. No, Mom, he whined in the voice that the very young save for the very uncool, that is an iPod.

Inability to recognize new technologies: the first sign of aging.

(Soundbite of music)

GURWITCH: My son programmed it for me, and that's how I found out this secret. You put music on your iPod from whatever age you want to return to, and voila, instant time machine.

(Soundbite of music)

GURWITCH: It's The Smiths and I'm 17 and I'm standing on a street corner in London. I just watched Charles and Diana pass by in their wedding carriage. I just know they'll be happy together forever.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) (Unintelligible)

GURWITCH: Now, I'm 19 and I'm on my way to play with my band in a club in downtown New York. A gig for which I was paid a pineapple.

(Soundbite of song, Once in a Lifetime)

TALKING HEADS (Musical Group): (Singing) Letting the days go by. Let the water hold me down…

GURWITCH: It's Once in a Lifetime and I'm in Wendy Caminoff's(ph) dorm room bopping as we play it over and over and over and dance our butts off.

(Soundbite of song, Once in a Lifetime)

TALKING HEADS: (Singing) After the money's gone. Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground.

GURWITCH: Hearing this music blasting in my ears positively transported me back to the early '80s when I had endless amounts of energy. Armed with this youthinator, I began running every night through the streets of my Los Angeles hilly neighborhood listening to - gasp - oldies. I felt so much younger that I ran more and more until one day I turned my ankle ever so slightly and that's how I became a victim of boomeritis.

(Soundbite of song, Come Together)

GURWITCH: According to The New York Times, sports injuries suffered by baby boomers have become the number two reason for visits to the doctor's office nationwide, just behind the common cold. The Consumer Products Safety Commission says those injuries led to almost $19 billion a year in medical costs.

Does this sound like an exaggeration? Well, you'd only think so if you're younger than me and I told you not to listen. I can testify that my injury alone cost me weeks off my feet and over $5,000.

(Soundbite of music)

GURWITCH: Damn you, youthinator. You made me feel young and then you took it all away and I got old really fast. It's kind of like what I imagine would happen if the Big One ever hits Los Angeles and all the dermatology offices close while the suddenly haggard roam the streets in search of black market Botox.

(Soundbite of beeping)

GURWITCH: I spent five months of agonizing, boot wearing, ankle pain. Riding in wheelchairs through airports, scowling at younger, mobile bipeds. Plus dozens of $180 physical therapy sessions with Rob, who admonished me that I just couldn't expect to exercise like I used to. But it's my iPod's fault. It injected too much youth into my brain. It's like mainlining youth, I cried.

(Soundbite of music)

GURWITCH: Alas, I'm too old to die young, but I will not give in to boomeritis. So now that my foot has healed, I'm going back to the youthinator, putting on my running shoes, keeping Rob's phone number tucked in the back pocket of my work-out clothes, hobbling over to the recumbent bike in the corner of the advanced orthopedic rehabilitation center, and for 30 minutes a day pedaling furiously backward toward my youth.

(Soundbite of song, Fly Like an Eagle)

Mr. STEVE MILLER (Musician): Do, do, do, do, do…

CHADWICK: Baby boomer and DAY TO DAY contributing writer Annabelle Gurwitch.

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