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10.27.2002 - 10:39 a.m.

Sunday

Our house has forever changed. The thing that has been introduced into our lives has altered the state of our domesticity, in ways I could have never foreseen. Like the squalling of a baby, it calls out; demanding attention, it holds us hostage in its phosphorescent grip.

I'm talking, of course, about Xbox.

It appeared in our living room last week, its coiled wiry black arms greeting me one day when I came home from work. Its glowing cold green eye staring.

I tried. You can't say I didn't try to appreciate it. I attempted to drive cars that smashed against guardrails and other vehicles, screeched all over the road and then told me I wasn't fast enough. I gamely pointed guns at things that brutally attacked me and left me for dead, time and time again. I haltingly maneuvered a catlike mammal around a world that killed me in humorous yet relentless ways.

What I have learned is that apparently I have a complete and utter lack of hand-eye coordination skills. I sort of suspected this all along, but now I have irrefutable proof.

JB, on the other hand, can manipulate the little buttons and triggers and knobs with freakish speed and accuracy, like he has about 50 thumbs.

In addition to being very, very bad at the games, they cause me dire stress. When the blinking light indicates an alien is approaching me from behind, I can hardly stop myself from whirling around physically and staring over my shoulder. If I can't stop my car in time from crashing headfirst into a highway divider, I wince and make an involuntary "arh!" sound. When my character is pulverized and the point of view rises to show my lifeless body, I heave a shaky sigh and think well, at least THAT'S over with.

So I have reconciled myself to the role of Observer. This is not too bad, as it appears I am quite easily entertained by what seems to be a movie unfolding before me. Openmouthed, I can happily watch JB blow away monsters left and right.

If it is true that I tend to take the games a little too seriously, JB suffers from the same fault. Instead of being a chickenshit like me, however, he gets into it. "All right, boys", he mutters to his on-screen Marines, "Saddle up, because we've got some major fucking asses to kick here."

"Say your prayers, motherfucker, because you're going DOWN."

And if the idea of me sitting around watching someone play video games is not dreary enough, this is how I spent part of my Saturday afternoon: combing the web for cheats that will help JB get past a certain game level. JB may be talented with a digitally rendered machine gun, but his memory is pure crap.

" 'Near a couple of canisters you'll find an Overshield,' I read. "Did you find that?"

"Um, I'm not sure. Maybe."

" 'There is an Elite carrying a laser sword atop the central platform'," I say with exasperation. "THINK. Did you SEE a 'laser sword'?"

"Yeah! Wait. Um, I can't remember."

I'm not sure what sort of game I would be good at. Something that doesn't actually require me to move around or interact with things, or propel scary objects at me with lightning speed, or sap my 'life energy', or require me to use complex button-pushing combinations.

This is sad...but I think online shopping is as close as I can get.

"AMAZON: OPERATION WISHLIST."

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I have moved. - 1.03.2005
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