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I like video games. Not all video games I don't like the kind that require any time spent talking to elves or purchasing seeds. I like the twitchy kind of video games about which priests and 4-H counselors have warned children and parents over three generations. The kind that are supposed to give you epilepsy or night blindness or AIDS or whatever, and ruin reception on your color television. (I still have a recurring nightmare in which I'm made to re-experience the moment when, after spending the grand sum of my Bar-Mitzvah money on a new Atari 5200 and a handful of games, my parents discovered it could only operate when hooked up to a color television and therefore forced me to return it as "we read somewhere that these things make your color TVs explode." I ended up squandering that money on a Members Only jacket, some Tom McAnn jazz shoes, and several dozen boxes of Nerds. I was a man, after all.)

I never grew out of video games, really, though I rarely talk about my love of them publicly. There's a reason I keep this enthusiasm out of the ears of most friends. You see, I enjoy having sex with women. And, in my entire life, I have met a total of three, perhaps four women, who considered sex a viable post-Burger Time activity. And at least one of those women was faking it when she let me beat her at Tekken Tag-Team Tournament. So, for now and probably forever video games will remain my nerdy trump card and super-duper-unsexy secret. When women see the Playstation 2 tucked between my television and stereo and ask what it is, I usually just tell them it's a machine I bought to polish my scrotum. Crisis averted!

But even my ugly secret has a secret within it: I SUCK at video games. I'm horrible. In fact, once video games graduated past three buttons and a four-way pad, I was tragically left behind and have still never caught up. In my adult life I've finished only a handful of video games I started. Mike Tyson Punchout? No problem. That game, and my easy mastery of it, made me a hero in college. They even called me "MONSIEUR FAGGOT," which I'm pretty sure was the name of one of the better fighters in that game. Can't remember, really. That was a long time ago. Since then, nothing. I have gotten to the final level in several games, but gave up to write or drink or beg girls to French me. Don't have it in me, I guess, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

There have been many occasions when a (male) friend was at my house and, after freshly picking up one of my video games for about three minutes, handily whipped my ass. I think there's an unspoken etiquette that frowns upon beating a man at his own video game in his own home, but I've had to exempt people from it for obvious reasons. I don't resent them; I envy them.

Lately, I've had a pretty tentative relationship with video games. I usually stay far away from anything that would seem to require my attention for more than 30 minutes at a time. (This is a rule I reserve for television, too, with only a couple historical exceptions.) And I haven't touched my Playstation in several months. However, I can feel myself slipping in other areas of my life (please refer to the Rodney Dangerfield joke that has been up on tremble since tuesday) and have been thinking, "I can't think of a better way to celebrate bottoming-out my self-esteem than in a dark room, beneath a pile of SNICKERS wrappers, with a game pad sugar-stuck to my palms." I guess what I'm trying to say is, "I'll see you this weekend, Burnout 3: Takedown."

WE FIRST MET ON 09.10.2004

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