Saturday, March 04, 2006

the maturity to pause

The great joy in life, for a vidiot like me, is teaching my boy to play video games. As an only child in a home full of drunken intellectuals, I was left on my own to entertain myself. The Commodore 64, the Sinclair, the Atari, the Colecovision, oh, say it slowly, Colecovision. Asteroids, Pac-man, Dig-dug, Utopia and countless others. As I grew older, we moved to the IBM PC 8088, the Apple IIe, Wolfenstein, and then into college, I majored in Nintendo Tecmo Bowl, slipping chapters of The Brother Karamazov in between bong hits and touchdowns.

This year for his birthday, I gave my boy an X-box. Not for and infant or toddler, but a thumb-twitching pre-schooler, not wanting to be called little, and ready for action. The women at the party shrieked as he tore the packaging off. "He's too little to figure that out!" Oh, an X-box, he exclaimed not knowing what it did. I told him it’s a “Bideo game” in his dialect, so he might process it quickly. What’s that Daddy? Son, meet Pandora!

Months have passed and there are evenings, most evenings, after we eat dinner and review the alphabet, if he has gotten a “smiley” face at school, when he plays X-box. You start slow with Chicken Little or The Incredibles, maybe a little light Madden football 2005. Now, as he has learned and practiced, there have been times that he has had so much fun that it has made me just weep. We share in the pretending and celebrate the victories and strategize on faults in the defeats. For a few hours, what we want and do are identical and we are true friends.

We are selfish beings, evolved to feed desires of pleasure and self-preservation. Most everyone I meet is in a trance; just doing what it is that they have convinced themselves is what they want. Coveting some identity they read in a book or saw in a glass window or TV. It is how the world drives forward, addictively strung out on some path sewn between destiny and duty. And by no means am I immune to it, but at least I am self-aware. My myopia is on the table.

But a time of dual-purpose among humans is a great joy in life. It is the non-sexual simultaneous happy ending that makes human interaction worthwhile. And since I don’t have sex with strangers, old friends, co-workers, or my children, it is a treasure I am always on the lookout for it in external relationships.

So, today we upgraded. The boy became a crime fighter, Spiderman Video game. Since he wore his Spiderman suit all day on Mardi Gras in the unseasonably hot February sun chanting and begging, I thought he had earned it. So, after a long session of saving the day, accumulating hero points and swinging between the building tops of metropolis, my son wandered in and stated that he had pissed himself. Now, he has been potty trained for over a year and never makes a mistake. So, I have to inquire what happened. “Why did you wet your jeans, underwear and my bed?” I was in the middle of a mission. “Did you feel like you had to go?” Yes, Daddy. “Well, why didn’t you?” The citizens of metropolis needed me and I was fighting bad guys. Not bad, not bad at all. A pretty good answer. This kid is good. How can I be mad about that? “Look son, see this button, it’s the pause button, next time you feel like you need to go pee-pee just hit it and the game will wait for you. You can pause the bideo game? “Yes, son, go see your mother and get cleaned up, good night. I love you.” Good night Daddy, I love my Spiderman bideo game.
Pandora is back in the box for one more night. I wish I still could find the joy and passion in life to just piss myself, but I guess my trance just makes me pause when my duty infringes on my wants.



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