My son, Handsome, has become addicted to computer games. I always knew he would be, someday, but when it did happen it somehow took me by surprise, and still managed to sadden me. No more does he come to meet me when I go to the house, coming into the kitchen for a hug and to ask me how my day was. He never really listened to my answer, of course, but I was always glad when he asked.
Nowadays, I have to hunt him out instead. Well, ‘hunt’ is probably the wrong word. I don’t have to go looking for him, I know right where he is when I walk through the door. Truth to tell, he’s probably there now, as I write this. Sitting in the TV room in the house, his laptop perched somewhat precariously on a tray-table in front of him, one hand on the mouse the other dancing across the keyboard. His eyes, large and blue, stare almost unblinking at the screen before him, slightly glazed from hours spent watching colored pixels fly and spin across its shimmering surface as he and his on-line friends adventure, explore, raid and recuperate.
I have to admit, I get the same way when I get into games. Diablo, Ultima Online, Halo — and those are just the ones that were straight, on-line computer games. Don’t even get me started on the old PlayStation! I understand the attraction of these games, the feeling of accomplishment as you complete quests, solve puzzles, and just see improvement in yourself in the way you play. I understand just how addicted he is, and how easily it happened, and (hopefully) that his addiction to MineCraft (his current poison of choice) will be a temporary thing, and eventually he’ll show interest in the rest of the world once more.
But still, it saddens me.
For the most part.
Occasionally, him being the Handsome I know and love, he does something in or about the game that makes me laugh until the tears come, until my stomach hurts, until I need to either stagger to the bathroom or else wet my pants.
It happened again the other day.
Sometimes Handsome is on Skype with a friend or two who also play his games, and he can just talk to them while they play, strategizing, coordinating attacks, etc. That is occasionally amusing enough, hearing their excited voices shouting back and forth across the ether, the things they say, the fun they’re having. Usually, though, Handsome is relegated to using the in-game chat function, and he has to type to his friends, and they to him. These times are fun for me because Handsome, knowing he’s playing with slightly older children and not wanting to seem silly or ignorant, occasionally comes to me for spelling help. He usually comes out to finds me in a rush, spitting the words out as fast as he can so he can get back to the game and get his message out to his crew before it loses its relevance.
“Dad,” he’ll yell as he pounds across the kitchen toward me. “How do you spell ‘Greece’?”
“The country or the lubricant?”
He turns to head back to the TV room, but wheels back again to face me.
“What about the other one?”
“The lubricant? G-R-E-A-S-E. That’s also the movie, if you’re ever looking to spell that.”
He spins away, and then back once more.
“What about sausages?”
“No,” he interrupts. “The stuff that comes out of sausages, when they cook, the—”
“Oh! G-R-E-A-S-E. Everything grease is spelled that way but the country, which is E-E-C-E, okay?”
The thudding footsteps retreat across the kitchen from me, and I’m left to wonder exactly why he needed to know all that, when he was in such an obvious hurry. Trying to figure out stuff like that is the fun part.
Well, some of the fun part. Until…
It was about a half hour after he needed his Greece/grease lesson when I was walking past the TV room door and heard him shouting.
“No! No! Aww no…”
“Everything okay?” I said, sticking my head into the room.
He sat back with his head tilted back as if looking at the ceiling, though his eyes were closed.
“I need to learn to type, I really do!”
“Me too, someday,” I replied. “Why? What’s the matter?”
Those great blue eyes opened and fixed upon me from a face I saw was flushed crimson with a nine-year-old’s embarrassment. His mouth opened for a moment, but nothing came out. He closed it, tried again, and managed to get the words out, in a somewhat tortured voice.
“I meant to type pennies!”
Sixty seconds later I entered the bathroom, still laughing.
God, I love that boy.
Talk to you later!