The Monkey Chased the Weasel

So I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror the other day and I realized a couple of things. First, I look a lot like Paul Giamatti. Younger. Less facial hair, but the resemblance is there.

"Hi Paul," I said. "Loved you in Truman Show. Glad you're getting more work."

Second, aside from looking like Paul Giamatti, I also looked like crap. Seriously. Eyes blood-shot and sunken-in with great big circles underneath them. Hair akimbo. The start of a break-out maybe. Better keep an eye on that. I looked like I'd been on a bender. Or perhaps several benders simultaneously, which was good, because I had. So that meant that the universe was actually working the way it should. On the other hand, it was bad because "… well, I looked like crap. Keep up!

I hadn't left the house in more than three days. I'd been doing some hard-core gaming, drinking, and trolling of the forum. A lot of trolling, in fact.

(CUT TO): Camera shot from inside of the monitor as Paul Giamatti stares blearily at the words scrolling up the screen. Time dilates. Paul is leaning so close, staring so hard, that we can see the lines of pixels refreshing over his face *voomp* he continues to stare *voomp* one eye, perhaps, twitching slightly *voomp* and then his eyes widen and his mouth opens, *voomp* emitting an almost silent gasp as he realizes *voomp* that he's sinking deeper into some, as yet unnamed, abyss "…

PAUL GIAMATTI: Gamers with jobs "… shhhhhizzle.

My apartment looked like a bomb had gone off. You know, one of those bombs filled with sweaty t-shirts, empty bourbon glasses and cornbread crumbs. I'd been stewing in my own juices since word came down that I had no money in the bank. How had I come to this? I'm young, able-bodied and "… (well, I can't quite say "handsome" with a straight face, but I can do that special thing with my tongue) "… Anyway, what back alley had I mistakenly turned into that led to this place of slovenliness, despair and all-night gaming sessions? No money means no meals out, no movies, no trips to "… anywhere, but I still have my games. My games. My salvation and my curse.

This should be a time to rejoice. I should be feeling as if the great time of game-playing has finally come. There should be a relief of sorts that all of the games I have put off playing will now, finally, get played, but it isn't like that. Instead of reveling in the feast, I find the pressure of having so many ways to pass the time overpowering. Each game session leads to another, leads to another. Yet the pressure never ceases. Instead of playing games to pass the time, I am now sacrificing time to play the games.

I used to get up around seven, get out of bed around nine. Now I'm not even in bed by seven. The sun sets and rises while I'm still playing games. I often realize that I've gone from freshly-showered to pungently-ripe without ever having moved more than ten feet from my couch. What kind of life is this? I used to do things. Make things. Now I twitch my thumbs and chase cheese around a maze. Can the slightly sour sweat born of game-produced anxiety even compare to the hearty stench of a good days work? When did forcing myself to sleep in a booze and game-induced haze replace falling into a much-needed slumber after a day of honest toil? When did I begin living my life through the actions of a digital avatar? Why am I asking so many questions? Why? Why?

Were I alone in this miasma I would quietly deal, but I know that I am not. We are a generation of cave-dwellers. For every one of us who sees the sun regularly, there are at least four more that have blankets over our windows. We swap recipes for finger foods, communicate with the outside world through in-game chat servers (if at all), and know more about the citizenry of Azeroth than we do about the people living next door.

Video gaming is the alcoholism of the twenty-first century. How different are we from our grand-fathers who once dreamt of being something special only to take two steps forward and then slide all the way back down into that job at the mill? We greet each other in chat lobbies like dock workers meeting after work at the bar. This is where we spend our nights trying to shrug off the emptiness of a life misspent. This is the poison with which we anesthetize our minds. This is how our dreams end. Not with a bang, but with the effortless murder of precious time.

This is what I call Living in the Box.

I realize that I've been living in the box for some weeks now. Inside of the box, in games, in the forums, I feel as powerful as a god. Outside of the box it's like I'm not even alive. I'm bleary-eyed and hazy at work. I have to slap myself while driving to stay awake. (Maybe if I add rocket launchers to the truck "…?) Conversations with actual people may as well have a [skip] button attached, for all the attention I pay to them. I'm planning my evenings with my girlfriend around get-togethers with people whom I have never met. I play until my eyes bleed and sleep only when I can no longer sit without drowsing. And for what? Nothing is accomplished, nothing is gained.

As I look into that mirror and see Paul's haggard, tortured face staring back at me, I suddenly realize that this is not the life I'm meant to live. It's no kind of life at all. Stasis, really. Digital. Chemical. An entertainment coma that I've entered into willingly. Now I'm having trouble finding the light.

"It's safe in the light," says the voice. Who the hell is that anyway? Screw it. She's right. Walk towards the light. It's safe in the light. As long as it isn't slightly blue and flickering.

It's finally spring in New England, which means that one can now safely spend more than five minutes out of doors without losing a nose. For six months we've been crammed indoors, bathing in artificial heat and dreaming of a world without ice storms and the ever-present taste of salt. Perhaps that's it then. Perhaps this is the trailing edge of the world's worst cabin fever. It would be comforting to think that. As a gamer, that is. As a denizen of this community we've made. Then again, what if I really do have a problem? What then? Dear Vishnu, what then?

I suppose I don't have to answer that question just yet. After all, my new Gamefly came today. Maybe it's Resident Evil 4. I've been waiting for that one. Not sure why though. I hated the first one. Still, somebody said I'd like it, so I might as well play for a bit and think on this tomorrow. After all, it's already late. I'll deal with everything tomorrow. I promise. Tomorrow. What was I thinking about again?[skip]

Comments

Fletcher, you are on a roll. The humanity!

I've got one foot planted firmly in the box. I'd be in completely if it weren't for my wife and daughter, who reward (and demand) my presence in the real world.

That one foot, though, isn't going anywhere.

Also: crawl out and enjoy the light while you can, because when Resident Evil 4 arrives, all hope is lost. Unless, of course, you manage to get married, have a kid, and hit some AA meetings first.

Conversations with actual people may as well have a [skip] button attached, for all the attention I pay to them.

Brilliant! Like the rest of this article.

Heh, you sound like me, twenty years ago...the grass is always greener...I live in Florida, exercise 1 hour a day, have a good job, nice house, beautiful wife and daughters (well how did I get here?) and my complaint? I have 45 minutes, at the most, to play with my precioussss games.

But my dealer, amazon.com, has promised me a fix of Imperial Glory in 3-5 business days...

Edit: to prove I passed 3rd grade spelling

..... Get out of my head!

Great article!

It's funny-- there are times when my wife goes out of town that I'll go on a two-day weekend bender of computer games and not much else (well, there is the traditional X-Large Pizza and 2-Liter Coke to go with it.) I enjoy it, but by the end I've also kind of had enough. I swear I spend more time thinking about playing computer games than I do actually playing them...

Great article, by the way!

Great article Fletcher.

Balance is a bitch to keep, that's why they invented girlfriends. The trick is to get B before totally losing A, because without A you'll scare B away, or you'll have to settle for a B without A and that's bad. And twice the size.

Mr.Green wrote:

The trick is to get B before totally losing A, because without A you'll scare B away, or you'll have to settle for a B without A and that's bad. And twice the size.

I'm having flashbacks to my 5th grade math class. Word Problems.

Fine piece of prose, Fletcher. You write reeeeal good.

Jeb wrote:
Mr.Green wrote:

The trick is to get B before totally losing A, because without A you'll scare B away, or you'll have to settle for a B without A and that's bad. And twice the size.

I'm having flashbacks to my 5th grade math class. Word Problems.

Fine piece of prose, Fletcher. You write reeeeal good.

Really? I was having flashbacks of that time I woke up and said, "Ugh, still drunk. Where am I? WTF WTF WTF I DON'T UNDERSTAND!"

You so perfectly describe the life I live whenever I find have a few days to myself...excellent work!

Such binges are bliss, in small amounts...but if you let it consume your soul, you become like the hordes of freshmen CS students in a dorm - that's a bit on the scary side. Fletch is indeed on a roll!

Heh, you sound like me, twenty years ago...the grass is always greener...I live in Florida, exercise 1 hour a day, have a good job, nice house, beautiful wife and daughters (well how did I get here?) and my complaint? I have 45 minutes, at the most, to play with my precioussss games.

Exactly the way I feel sometimes. It seems I can only do the things I want to do on the weekends nowadays. I don't hole up and do nothing, I work, I exercise, I do my job and occasionally find time to hang out. But when I can kill an entire day playing some excellent game, I don't regret it for a second. I know I have so many days I want to do something and I end up killing time with TV or Internet because I'm too tired to do anything else. So when I have the time, and the energy, I play all I can get.

Likewise I remember in college where I'd spend two weeks doing nothing but playing Metroid Prime, at the end I really needed to get out more. I took up Karate, went to work more, whatever I could find to do.

Really, whatever box you put yourself in, you're always wanting to get out.

"I used to get up around seven, get out of bed around nine."

Well that ol' man he's a real motherf#@er gonna kick him on down the liiiiiine.

Edit: Fletcher, I always pictured you as more of a Burt Reynolds. Why did you ruin that! - Great article.. very entertaining

and cornbread crumbs

Blue ribbon or Red bones?

My god I need ribs....

Mayfield wrote:
and cornbread crumbs

Blue ribbon or Red bones?

My god I need ribs....

Scratch.

Yowsa!

Fletcher1138 wrote:
Mayfield wrote:
and cornbread crumbs

Blue ribbon or Red bones?

My god I need ribs....

Scratch.

Yowsa!

Sexy, and he cooks! Put yourself on Match.com now Fletcher!!

Edit: Fletcher, I always pictured you as more of a Burt Reynolds. Why did you ruin that! - Great article.. very entertaining

Burt Reynolds? For some reason I pictured him as a cross between John Belushi (Animal House days) and a ferret.

You have a girlfriend?

Motherf*cker, you are just an amateur at this sh*t. I'm here in my parent's study, 29 year's old and keepin' it REAL bitch!

IMAGE(http://www.insaniteesonline.com/images/Patches/96-322%20Keep%20it%20Real.jpg)

cartoonin99 wrote:

Burt Reynolds? For some reason I pictured him as a cross between John Belushi (Animal House days) and a ferret.

Really, that would a fairly accurate description of Paul Giamatti...

edit: forgot to mention...great article! I have been there, and it sucks. A lot. The comments all sound eerily familiar to me as well. If it wasn't for my wife and daughter, I'm sure I would still be in the same boat: drinking too much, playing games into the wee hours of the night, and writing music that seethed with antisocial rage. I still cultivate the antisocial rage, but the other stuff is much better in moderation.

1D, no you're not keepin it real. Those who be keepin it real wear same pair of jeans or khakis throughout the year, and a t-shirt over same hoodie or sweater (consult a pic in Demosthene's employee profile for reference). Those who keep it real neither order, nor read, nor follow "Man And Clothes".

Go away, you keepin it real wannabe impostor.

Those who really keep it real do things like piss in their pants because they don't want to stop the game to go to the bathroom. I am happy to report that I know a guy who actually did that.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

1D, no you're not keepin it real. Those who be keepin it real wear same pair of jeans or khakis throughout the year, and a t-shirt over same hoodie or sweater (consult a pic in Demosthene's employee profile for reference). Those who keep it real neither order, nor read, nor follow "Man And Clothes".

Go away, you keepin it real wannabe impostor.

I've decided that I should start wearing casual clothes. I'm trying to coordinate my wardrobe accordingly.

It's possible to be real and tasteful, goddamit.

What I want to know is how you can be on a seemingly perpetual drunken binge and gaming bender and still have a job and a girlfriend? If it were as easy as you make it sound, I think we would all be doing it. Perhaps a future article on how to hold down a job and a gf while making alcohol and gaming your top priorities in life is in order. This sort of valuable advice could potentially change my life.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:
What I want to know is how you can be on a seemingly perpetual drunken binge and gaming bender and still have a job and a girlfriend?

Well, I don't see any paradoxes here, because probably it's a sh*tty dead-end McJob and an ugly, slobbish, also-a-gamer girlfirend. That only adds to the tragedy, I guess.

Pithy.

Copingsaw wrote:

What I want to know is how you can be on a seemingly perpetual drunken binge and gaming bender and still have a job and a girlfriend?

Net facade. My net facade is cooler though - I have 1 gagillion dollars, an Irish accent, know kung-fu, have killed several men with my bare hands, and regularly bed (notice I said bed, because my net facade beds, it does not have sex with) exotic and beatiful women.

Well, I don't see any paradoxes here, because probably it's a sh*tty dead-end McJob and an ugly, slobbish, also-a-gamer girlfirend. That only adds to the tragedy, I guess.
Net facade. My net facade is cooler though - I have 1 gagillion dollars, an Irish accent, know kung-fu, have killed several men with my bare hands, and regularly bed (notice I said bed, because my net facade beds, it does not have sex with) exotic and beatiful women.

Y'all are calling Fletch out with these harsh critiques of his seemingly idyllic lifestyle.

I don't think they are calling them out. It is possible he's gamer that spends too much time gaming and an exceptionally cool life with hot girlfriend and great job, but I think his circumstances would be exceptional.

Let's just face the facts. I would put it in his pooper. End of discussion.

Copingsaw wrote:
Well, I don't see any paradoxes here, because probably it's a sh*tty dead-end McJob and an ugly, slobbish, also-a-gamer girlfirend. That only adds to the tragedy, I guess.
Net facade. My net facade is cooler though - I have 1 gagillion dollars, an Irish accent, know kung-fu, have killed several men with my bare hands, and regularly bed (notice I said bed, because my net facade beds, it does not have sex with) exotic and beatiful women.

Y'all are calling Fletch out with these harsh critiques of his seemingly idyllic lifestyle.

Eeep. I certainly wasn't trying to call him out. I was just making the joke/observation that anyone can be anything they want to be on the internet. What we get of people based on their writings are likely limited selections and understandings of their lives (not through hiding anything, but through the impossibility of fully exploring the life of a human being through a few paragraphs of text posted per day).

I do always doubt the image I get of people based on their net presences, but not because I think they are evil, but because I think very few people are going to post the boring, mundane bullsh*t they deal with and deal out every day of their lives. By the nature of the medium we all become little James Bonds on the net, just because we are trying to filter out the uninteresting things that make up the bulk of our lives.

It's also pretty clear to me that a fair number of people use this board to work on their writing skills, creative writing, and character creation. In other words, they are trying to tell a story. There's nothing wrong with that, but I doubt authors would expect you believe it as a gospel retelling of their lives.

Are you saying Fletch is a liar SlyFrog?

I'll bet you'll be saying Sanjuro's new bird is a heffalump next.

but because I think very few people are going to post the boring, mundane bullsh*t they deal with and deal out every day of their lives.

So two weeks ago I decided I was going to start burning scented candles more frequently in my room. I decided to burn it every time I'm in it. But then I had to decide what scents I wanted. I opted for the Exotic Bouquet and the Lylacs candles for starters. Last night when I was doing my weight lifting I was adding more poundage, and sat for about a minute or so trying to see the most optimal way to balance the weights. I was also waiting on someone to message or call me last night but I was deciding whether I should go to bed or wait for her. I ended up deciding to go to bed since I could just give her a call today, plus I'm not really that interested in her. This weekend I will be visiting some friends for a party and some drinking. I told my friend if he knows any hot med-school students in his class (he is in med-school) that he should tell her to meet up with me this weekend some time. I then was deciding whether I should do laundry or wait till thursday to do it. But if I did do laundry what should I wash first? Which shirt should I wear to hang out with the lady that my friend will hopefully hook me up with?
I was also thinking, since I've been running several miles a day, I've been crapping on a more frequent basis. My friend that is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marines told me that this is what he does because of the amount of running he does. He says if your not crapping at least twice or three times a day your not crapping enough.

Is that enough of the mundane stuff from one evening or should I continue?

Is that enough of the mundane stuff from one evening or should I continue?

So ... weightlifting, parties, and hot babes are all mundane stuff for you? Apparently you don't need a net facade like the rest of us.