|At Least It's Not Another Woman...
Walt C. Snedeker
The roots of my affliction go all the way back to the fifties.
Back in the days when I was just a collection of raging hormones
in mutual conflict, the lure of those nickel pin-ball machines was
I didn't fully realize it at the time, but hypnotic as it was, I
know now that there was something missing amid all the flashing,
clanging, bong-a bong-a bong-a and dinging. Even the occasional
near-Biblical thok! that importantly announced the awarding of a
free game didn't quite do it all.
Not to minimize the impact, however. Long hours of glassy-eyed enjoyment
were stretched from the few nickels I could cobble together. Despite
the horror of my teachers and other ignorant grownups at the thought
of an otherwise semi-personable young man wasting away his life
at the altar of flashing lights and sonorously rolling ball bearings,
I was developing a fabulous hand-eye coordination. This remarkable
coordination was something that would serve me well if I ever had
to defend America (using only a push-button and lots of body English)
from unending streams of steel balls rolling down a gentle slope.
Patriotic, you see.
But, then it all changed. I met a fluffy darling of a redhead that
just happened to be built like Anita Ekberg, with a sparky intellect
which could be used for lighting cities. And great DNA. I was lost
immediately as all those raging hormones suddenly looked up from
their intramural battles and said in unison, "Hey! Lookit that!"
So things sort of eased off a little in the pinball business. The
troglodytic nerds that assembled their arcane machines only took
a few hundred thousand coins from me over the next twenty years
But, just like me and the fluffy redhead (whom I somehow find extraordinarily
attractive for a beautiful woman with a fantastic body), these avatar
nerds somehow found mates and procreated.
And their double-nerdy children invented video games.
Pucky (my #2 son) and I were probably the first two people on earth
to suffer from "Galaxian Finger". This malady was the
result of gripping that precursor-to-a-joystick which one found
atop the quarter-eating Galaxian games.
Today, the world has caught on, and they've given Galaxian Finger
an officious medical name something like "carpool in the tunnel
syndrome". Peh. We were first.
But worse was yet to come. I bought a computer. Nay, a whole series
of them -- culminating in the one I sit at even now.
In computer language, it is a 486 DX4 100mhz Hyderdiddlic Honey
with 12-inch stereophonic FM-balanced speakers coupled to SoundBlaster
hardware. In layman's terms, it is the meanest thing on the planet.
It can play DOOM at full speed and full resolution.
In short, I've reset to 1955.
The Fabled PC now comes home to the sound of monsters shrieking
in their death-throes as I slay them in their hundreds.
Diligently, I pursue with glassy eyes the difficult trails to conquer
the hordes of the netherworld.
It makes me wonder what I ever saw in pinball machines.
Or Galaxian Quarter-Munchers.
Of course, I can swap off, and go noisily shoot down the Luftwaffe,
using my double-speed integral CD-ROM.
It gets so that the Fabled PC has to close the door to my computer
room, and raise the volume of the TV in the living room in order
to hear it.
Pucky recently asked, "Daddy, was there life before computers?"
So Pucky and Your Humble Obedient will be blasting and dodging away
for hours. Although eventually Pucky claims that he's tired, and
says he's had enough, and it's time for him to go back to his wife.
(Where did I go wrong in my upbringing of the lad?)
After only two months of at least four hours a night of DOOM (I
set a new world record, I think), the Fabled PC came storming into
my sanctum to shriek daintily that I'd better pay some attention
to her, and that the sound of gunfire and dying demons was driving
And just when I had finally gotten the BFG 9000 to massacre the
So we went out... to Computer MegaCity where I bought Myst. (They
say it's a lot quieter.)
While we were there, I saw an advertisement for this neat-o headset-----armbrace
thingy that you put on and actually wear the computer in what they
call "virtual reality".
That's when I began to realize that there was really something missing
in my computer.
My redhead sighs and says, "Oh, well, at least it's not another