This Little Piggy Went Wii, Wii, Wii (All The Way Home)
At 45 years of age, I consider myself far from “old.” Unfortunately, sometimes I have a tendency to forget I’m not as flexible and resilient as I used to be. I have a good excuse though. I am a victim…a victim of technology.
To understand this allegation, we must travel back in time to Christmas 1975 and “the family gift.” My mother had gathered her brood in the living room and with a dramatic flair produced the annual Sears Wish Book catalog, placing it open on the coffee table where we could see what she had planned. “This,” she said, tapping the glossy page with a carefully manicured fingernail, “is what we are getting. Isn’t it amazing?”
The Atari 2600
I really had no idea what an Atari 2600 was, but along with my siblings we made the same noises early cavemen must have made upon discovering fire. My mother was expecting these primitive grunts of awe and if we hadn’t obliged, she would have been bitterly disappointed.
Once that machine entered our lives…nothing was ever the same again.
Before Atari, there were games like hide and go seek, camping out in the backyard with my friend listening to Mystery Theater on my portable AM radio and racing around the neighborhood at a suicidal speed on my bike. All of that came to a screeching halt when the first little electronic blip of Pong bounced across the family television screen. The only thing that remained the same was that my mother’s five children still beat each other up on a daily basis…but now it was for possession of the game’s remote control device.
My mother was smart. She waited until we went to bed and then indulged for hours in her habit of playing Black Jack.
My Personal Favorites
The years rolled by and technology continued to seduce me with its latest marvels. The Atari 2600 grew dusty from disuse and sat forlorn beneath the television set. Late at night, after my waitressing shift at the bar had ended, my pockets bulging with quarters, I would slink down the street to feed my habit at the local arcade. Pacman, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Galaga, Battlezone…I played them until my initials filled the screen and seethed in frustration whenever I discovered my top score had been supplanted. I was good though. Hunched into the machine, my right hand maneuvered the joystick with skill while my left hand beat a rat-a-tat-tat in a blur of motion on the kill buttons. By the time my pockets were empty, I was left both breathless and boneless in the aftermath. It was, in my opinion at the time, better than sex and much more addicting.
The next decade brought my first personal computer. At first it was internet relay chat and Leisuresuit Larry that captured my attention. Whole nights would pass by as I sat glued to my computer chatting with friends from around the world or trying to solve Larry’s ridiculous riddles and problems. Although I swore to everyone that I could quit at anytime, it wasn’t unusual to hear the soft chirping of birdsong and realize that once again, I’d lost track of time and pulled an all-nighter.
I remember once, my computer had a major malfunction and I spent three days curled up in a fetal position on the couch, completely unable to find the will to get up and do something constructive. There are no words that can convey the joy I felt when my computer was back up and running. It felt as if we had been parted for ages and the reunion was incredibly sweet.
But my craving for technology left me wanting more and before too long, IRC had been supplanted by Everquest. It was the best of everything. There was a make-believe world of fantasy creatures, monsters I could slay and new friends from all over the world that I could make.
There was a part of me that understood the power that this technology had upon my life. Under the illusion that I was still in control, I limited my playing to my “free time.” If all of my obligations and responsibilities had been met, then I was free to indulge. Unfortunately, the ravenous appetite of the monster soon had me convinced that such things as grocery shopping, laundry, general housework and my marriage were not really obligations or responsibilities. Luckily for me, I did manage to keep it confined to my home and never allowed it to stray into my working life.
My mind rationalized that it was “cheap entertainment.” A small monthly fee and I was connected to my fantasy life. I never quite realized the toll it was taking on me, personally…not to mention on those around me.
And then…I met another addict, like myself, in the game of Everquest. We fell in love, married and latched onto a new game called World of Warcraft. This I still happily play. Ironically…he says I play too much. Conversely, since he plays a greater variety of games than I do, I point a finger back at him and accuse him of having the attention span of a gnat. We are very happy together in our technological escapist lifestyle.
Lately, I’ve been having these annoying thoughts. What am I missing? Why is my ass getting bigger? Perhaps I should get up and do something once in a while. But…I’d miss my technology.
It took a visit to my sister’s house over the holidays to finally pull the pieces together and find a solution. During the nearly two weeks there, with my husband curled up for most of it at the kitchen table with his laptop playing Warhammer (can you tell I was insidiously jealous and decided never again to let him talk me out of taking my own laptop again?), worried that my family would be put off by his anti-social behavior, I realized that I was not the only victim of technology.
My own sister was a Crackberry addict. With her Ipod earpiece jammed deeply into her auditory canal, the player strapped to her upper arm, she would wander around the house with her pink Blackberry held between both hands, fingers tapping on the keys constantly in between messages sent and received. It was a wonder she didn’t walk into any walls. Her phone was never far from reach…whether we were out to dinner or driving across town. Every stoplight was a cue for her to pick it up and start tap-tapping on the keyboard, much to my annoyance.
However, I loathe being a hypocrite more than anything in the world and so I kept my mouth firmly shut…albeit in a straight line usually to convey my disapproval. Hadn’t I been just as bad, if not worse, when it came to my own electronic habits?
Still…my sister did not have techno-ass. What on earth was she doing to keep her bad habits from making a rather large physical appearance? The answer was in her house…somewhere…and I had to find it.
It was while I was making spaghetti sauce that I received the final clues to solve this mystery. From the basement, which my sister and her husband had converted into a maze of rooms with odd purposes, came moans and grunts of an almost sexual nature, followed by rather disconcerting maniacal laughter. To say that I was worried about my sister’s mental state would be putting it mildly. Was she in pain? I couldn’t tell.
At the top of the stairs I called down, “Toni…Toni? Are you okay?” There was no response. Obviously she had her Ipod screaming into her ear. I sneaked down a few stairs until I could see her and what I saw did not make me feel any better. If anything, I became more alarmed watching my sister spastically beating at the air, sweating profusely and saying things like “Stay down you (bleep, bleep, bleep)!” Finally with a growl of exasperation, she lifted a remote that I had not previously seen in her hand, aimed it at the television and dropped in a sweaty heap upon a nearby chair.
“Toni?” I asked tentatively.
“I give up!” she huffed and wiped a few damp strands of hair from her forehead.
“What on earth are you doing?”
“Oh,” she laughed, “I’m boxing. On my Wii. But the (bleep, bleep, bleep) knocked me on my ass and won’t stay down when I hit him!”
“Well, uh…it really didn’t look like you were hitting him.” To be fair, it looked more like she was having an epileptic seizure. “Didn’t you see ‘Million Dollar Baby’? You need to keep your hands UP…protect yourself.”
I’m thinking…how hard can this really be…pretending to spar with a television character?
With an evil grin…she showed me.
We started slow with a couple of games of bowling. Toni kicked my butt…but not by much…on the first game. The second one was a little more humiliating.
Toni then allowed the game to determine my “Wii Age.” RealAge.com doesn’t approve of my current lifestyle so why should this game, I thought…but perhaps it wasn’t that smart and it would tell me I still had the physical fortitude of a 26 year old. After a few rounds of trying to hit a ball with a bat, picking up spares in bowling and making a mess of returning serves on a make-believe tennis court, Wii announced that I was in peak form…for a sixty-three year old. Ouch.
Next came the boxing. After two rounds I was winded…my heart pounding against my ribcage threatening to explode from my chest like one of those suck-face aberrations in “Alien”. However, I counted it a win since my redneck opponent never knocked me down…but I got him twice.
Toni was not finished with me yet…however. She plugged in the Wii Fit and had me slalom skiing, ski-jumping and testing my balance. Warmed up, I did a bit better and didn’t mind when the machine determined I was an overweight fifty-three year old. What I did mind was when it said in a chirpy little voice, “Would you like to set a goal for yourself?” I felt….betrayed.
Wii Fit Parody
Betrayed by the very technology that I had loved; the technology that had lured me with its siren call and had contributed to my bad case of techno-ass. It was as if after years of drinking at my favorite bar, the bartender, who had sent his kids through college on my tips and padded his retirement fund with the profits from countless libations, had suddenly turned on me and said, “You are an alcoholic and you need help. Would you like to set a goal?”
I was crushed.
But at the same time…a small seed was planted. Technology had brought me to this…perhaps technology could save me.
Breathless and boneless, I scampered up the stairs with a smile on my face. “I want a Wii!” was the first thing I exclaimed upon seeing my husband. Without looking up from his laptop keyboard, my beloved responded thusly: “The bathroom is down the hall and to your right.”
Confirming my belief though that technology is the key to undoing all of the damage it had previously wrought, the next day I hurt in places I had not hurt in a long time. My ass complained whenever I attempted to sit down, my shoulders throbbed in agony while my sides ached abominably. I hobbled around the house reveling in the pain.
“Just wait until you try the hula hoop!” my sister cried enthusiastically.
My new Wii should be arriving any day now. I have never looked forward to suffering so much…