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Hey, Since Private Relationships are Front Page News, Let Me Tell You About Mine

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Private lives are big news today, with the New York Times devoting nearly 2,000 words and interviewing 50 people for a front page story on what they called "Topic A" among prominent Democrats: the state of Bill and Hillary Clinton's relationship.

So in this journalistic spirit, I've decided to use my blog to share with you something very private and very personal.

It was a whirlwind relationship. From the moment we were introduced, we became close. Inseparable. Too close, some suggested. Friends began to whisper that the relationship was taking up more and more of my time, energy, and focus.

But I didn't realize how intense things had gotten until my constant companion was lost at sea and the grief set in. And it didn't help matters that this tragic turn of events was all my fault.

Now before you get all worked up, wondering if I've become a character in a Barbara Cartland bodice-ripper, let me explain: the passionate relationship wasn't with another person, but with a gadget. My beloved BlackBerry. Which I've just accidentally dropped into the ocean.

Yes, it's true. I'm one of the more than three million Americans who have been utterly seduced by the charms of the little Canadian wireless device. We've become attached to the always-in-touch feeling our BlackBerry gives us.

Okay, it's way more than "attached." We're addicted. But I for one just wasn't ready to admit it.

Oh, sure I'd heard all the jokes about "CrackBerrys," and read how researchers were saying that the devices could disrupt home lives, exacerbate work burnout, and cause serious separation anxiety. And I do remember the cold chill of desperation that came over me earlier this year when it looked like a legal battle over patents might lead to a shutdown of the service -- and the giddy rush of relief when a settlement was reached. But you know what they say about addicts and denial.

Then fate intervened.

It happened as I stepped off a tender to board a friend's boat anchored off the coast of Cannes.

My BlackBerry was tucked into my shoulder bag. A shoulder bag with a small snap. A small snap that came open. A soft splash drew my attention. And I watched my Blackberry sink into the sea.

The finality was absolute. It wasn't as if I'd misplaced it and, after tacking up flyers and putting out a household-wide APB (All Pursue Blackberry), would eventually track it down.

Sure I had closure, but closure of the worst kind. I actually thought about diving in after it, but knew that even if I managed to rescue it, it would be worthless. In my experience, BlackBerrys have a worse aversion to water than the Wicked Witch of the West. I once had to get one replaced after just a few drops from the sink had splashed on it -- so I knew that complete immersion in the Mediterranean was certain doom.

The only good to come from the loss was that it finally brought me face to face with my addiction -- the reality brought home by the response of my friends, who all suddenly started treating me as if I'd suffered a major loss.

"How are you doing with it?" asked one in a tone usually reserved for funerals and ugly divorces.

"I'm so proud of you," said another, gently stroking my shoulder. "You seem to be holding up better than I thought you would."

A third was incredulous. "No way it fell out of your bag. Impossible. You were holding it. You're always holding it. You never let that thing out of your hands," he said with a vehemence that spoke of his pent-up frustration.

And that's when it hit me. If my friends assumed that losing a small electronic device would devastate me -- or couldn't picture me without it in my hands -- I must really have it bad.

Just how bad? Well, I had actually brought a backup BlackBerry with me on my trip. It's not as good as my main one (lacking my personal database and e-mail programming), but it will do in a pinch.

You know, just a little something on the side. A temporary fling. Nothing passionate and real, as I had with my beloved BlackBerry now at the bottom of the sea.

But you know what they say: What happens in Cannes stays in Cannes.