Sunday, April 27, 2008

Will I Never Learn?

I'm sure there's a Gospel lesson in here somewhere. Probably there's a story buried deep in my scriptures; we'll call it "the Allegory of the Electronic Gaming Device." It tells the spiritually informed that the House of Israel was scattered because they failed to heed the Lord's repeated warnings that if they didn't cast out their Nintendo DS's, they would be cut off from the presence of the Lord for a good long time. But of course the Israelites failed to heed these warnings, among others, and found themselves suddenly living in, I don't know, Russia or someplace where they make inferior microchips and can't handle even a simple Mario Bros. game.

You may recall that I'd written about my unreasoning fear of my daughter's Nintendo DS a week and a half ago. You may appreciate that my daughter has kept intense pressure focused on her reluctant Dad to play "Animal Crossing." Today was no different. She was relentless. "Daaaaddy," she began. That sing-song "Daaaaddy" of hers modulates between about three distinct pitches and is the rough equivalent of the Central American phrase pues, fíjese. "Fijese" in Guatemala pretty much means, "I'm about to give you a whopper of an excuse as to why, precisely, I can't be bothered to read that wonderful Book of Mormon you gave me a week ago, Elder, so get ready." When my daughter uses her modulated "Daaaaddy" on me, I get similar results. "Here comes an outrageous request, Daddy, so you'd better prepare yourself." In either instance, whether my daughter or a well-meaning but highly ambivalent Quiché tat, I have just about 10 seconds to drum up my steely resolve and put on my poker face. Let me state for the record that I had a much higher success rate with the Quichés.

"Daaaaaddy," she said, "since you don't have anything to do right now..."

Huh? Whaddaya mean, "nothing to do?" I'm sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, relaxing, and contemplating taking a nap. How could that possibly be construed as "nothing to do?"

"Would you like to play 'Animal Crossing?'"

*heavy dramatic sigh*

I was trapped, and I knew it. She had me dead to rights. I didn't have anything that I was doing at that particular moment, although I could have fabricated something pretty darn'd quickly. I'm still under about a gazillion deadlines at work, and I should probably be working on at least one of them even as I write this. However...

I relented.

"Okay, Punkin', let's have it."

See below the look of a defeated man:

See, the girls love to watch Daddy play computer games. This has always been true, because Daddy is not one of those hideous Doom 3 kinds of Dads. I just don't get into that level of violence. But I love the Monkey Island series, and so do the girls. So every time I play one of those types of games, the girls will sit and literally watch me for hours, if I let 'em. Ditto Harry Potter. Or even Indiana Jones, although there are scarier things in the Indy games and they tend to leave the room more often when I play those.

That's why you see both Woodyettes perched immediately above and behind me, watching with enrapt looks on their faces. The way they look in the photo, I'd probably just burned down the Town Hall or something. (This, of course, is not true. What actually happened was, I trampled on their flowers. Frankly, I had no idea how to avoid trampling on them, and wasn't interested in taking the Traffic School option. Just fine me and be done with it.)

So I played for about an hour. At the end of which I had had enough of "Animal Crossing" to last me until approximately the next presidential administration.

I was exhausted. I finally managed to learn how to sell things to the town Dictator-for-Life Tom Nook. I even got a rod and reel and tried my hand at a fishing tournament. Now, I've been fishing on and off (mostly off) for most of my life, and I have to say that if, in real life, I hooked into a 34+ inch carp, I'd be feeling pretty good. So imagine my dismay at presenting said carp to the Mayor (who always appears tipsy to me, for some odd reason) only to learn that someone else had bagged a 43 inch sea bass! Phooey.

Jelly also coerced me into visiting the museum. I'd managed to bag an octopus while fishing, and Mrs. Woody suggested I donate it to the museum, so off I went. After Jelly told me where to find it, that is. Then she kept urging me to visit various exhibit halls. "Visit the aquarium, Daddy!" "Now visit the art gallery, Daddy!" "Now go jump in the river and soak your head, Daddy!" (I may have imagined that last one.) Finally she got me to visit the bug exhibit. I wasn't sure exactly why she wanted me to visit this one in particular until she told me to find and stomp on the cockroach. Yes, a cockroach. So I located it and tried to stomp on it. "Notice: this cockroach was lovingly donated by Violet..." Of course. A protected cockroach. Only in "Animal Crossing."

By that time, my head was pounding. Time for a Sudafed. I steered my character back to bed — envying him his ability to crash whenever he wanted to — and politely handed the Machine of Doom back to my daughter.

But not before Mrs. Woody had captured my shell-shocked face for future generations to enjoy.

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