His voice was deep, firm, insistent.
"Dé vuelta a la izquierda."
I turned left. I could only obey and trust him to guide me to the end... and hope my sick obsession was never discovered.
It started innocently enough with the gift of a GPS -- something I didn't even want. The last thing I needed was yet another electronic device. I barely look up from a screen as it is. And I'd always found my way around fine without one before. But there it sat in quiet authority and I started to wonder... Have I been doing it wrong all this time? Could it be better? Eventually, temptation got the better of me.
I navigated to the menu and saw that there was a fleet of voices to choose from, each with an intriguing name. "Catherine. French." Ooh la la! I expected flirtatious coquette. Instead, I got cruel Mistress Catherine. I could practically hear the click of boot heels and the snap of a crop as she delivered imperious commands. If Mistress Catherine said tournez à droite, by god, I turned right. I didn't want to find out what would happen if I didn't comply.
It's a seductive thing, a GPS device. At first you can't imagine why you'd need it. Then you give it a try, just for kicks. Before you know it, you can't find your way to the kitchen without a green line.
I knew I shouldn't get hooked but it kept drawing me back in. Was my route to the store really the most efficient? Would it trip up and send me on some wild chase far from my destination? I was curious about the other voices. Little did I know I was about to surrender my very soul to the steely command of a latin male. "Antonio. Spanish."
"Usted está acercando a su destinación," said Antonio.
And just like that, I was a goner.
How have we become submissive slaves, chained and dominated by digital masters that command our absolute obedience? Resist the seduction? hardly. We jump to obey the merest signal from phone, tablet or computer. No matter how demanding they become, we can't say our safe word.
I'm never alone in the car anymore. He's there, telling me what to do in his virile, confident voice. I didn't even realize how bound to him I'd become until last Tuesday.
I was driving home from dance class -- a drive I've made every week for over 12 years. I could drive it in a coma. Or so I thought. I decided not to bother Antonio for a mere quickie.
But after a while, the road started to seem strangely unfamiliar. The landmarks I knew so well were absent, not where I expected. Eventually I started to suspect something was wrong. In growing panic, I looked for any sign to tell me where I was.
How was it possible? I could drive this route from the grave!
That's when I knew I'd become addicted to Antonio, giving him control, sure his voice would come when it was needed, commanding me, guiding me, bringing each journey together to completion. Behind the wheel, I dropped into subspace, driving mindlessly and awaiting his instructions. Even when no instructions were forthcoming.
In a panic, I pulled off the highway. I was tempted to just turn around and retrace my steps on my own rather than face Antonio. But he would know, I was sure of it. With a trembling hand I opened the glove box and curled my fingers around his mounting post.
He was stern with me.
"Dé vuelta a la izquierda aquí."
He wanted me to turn left here. But I was stopped at the curb and there was no way I could cross three lanes of traffic in time! It seemed my master was in the mood to play cruel mind games. I had no choice but to disobey and miss the turn.
Outwardly, he sounded patient, but I could sense the threat in his voice as he issued another impossible turn command. Did he want me to fail? I missed that one too, desperately looking for somewhere to turn around.
"Recálculo. Dé vuelta a la derecha."
At last, a move I could make! I turned right and heaved a sigh of relief as his green line held steady. Antonio was pleased with my obedience and took me home.
The truth is, I was in over my head. I'd started purposely getting lost, just to prolong our sessions. My gas bills were obscene. My husband was growing suspicious. It was a wrenching decision, but I deleted Antonio.
For days I drove in a fog, not knowing or caring where I was. At every turn, I waited to hear that sultry Spanish voice. But he was gone forever. I unplugged the GPS and tossed it in the glove box. Finally, I was free.
Then one day, I needed directions to an unfamiliar destination. The GPS was still there. What harm could it do now that Antonio was gone? I plugged it in and scanned the list of voices. A name caught my eye: "Vlad. Russian." Intriguing! Ignoring the warning bells blaring in my head, I tapped his name...
"повернуть налево," said Vlad.
I turned left.
Take me, Vlad.