I was desperate. I needed to get a life.
I’d run out of lives and hadn’t yet made it to the end of the Level 10 on my game. I couldn’t wait the 15 minutes for another life to regenerate because my in-laws were going to arrive any minute and I hadn’t yet swept the front entrance way.
Then, out of nowhere, it popped up on my screen: “Watch a video to gain another life.”
A video? What kind of video? Would it take longer than the few minutes I had to spare? It wasn’t porn, was it? I looked around the room. My husband was outside tidying the backyard and my kids were in their rooms doing who knows what, so I quickly jammed my finger down on the ‘play’ button like a reckless drunk getting the bartender’s attention at the bar. “Serve me a new life, barkeep!”
The video was an ad for another game. It had colorful, fun graphics and I could hear the siren’s call. “Play me! I’m totally not addicting! You don’t have anything better to do!”
Oh stop it! I’m no fool.
As I watched the video ad, I floated above myself and looked down at my desperate body hunched over my phone at the dining room table. Who was this desperate, slumped over woman and what had she done with the real me – the me who is young and happy and not wasting time watching an ad in order to gain another virtual life?
I looked away from the screen, ashamed and dirty. Had I watched subliminal porn?
Because that’s what it felt like. I sat up straight and decided I had to salvage the last of my dignity. I promised that I wouldn’t look at the debauchery on the screen, except to see when it ended so I could get my life and play my game again.
I opened my eyes a crack and noticed that the ad had paused. An animated hand moved from a wrench to a leaking sink with the words, “Drag your finger here.” It wanted me to touch it!
“No!” I said adamantly to myself. This is where I draw the line. I only touch what I want to touch. I have boundaries!
I continued to watch without touching it, presuming it would time out and just give me my bloody life. In the meantime, my heart startled several times as I heard what sounded like footsteps at my front door. But the onscreen hand just kept moving back and forth between the wrench and sink, back and forth, back and forth, back and f— I really had no other choice.
FINE, just this once!
As I dragged my finger across the screen to follow its prompt, my blackened soul scampered away to a shadowy corner of a shadowy room—the kind with graffitied penises on the walls and burn marks on the shag carpet. The kind that smelled of week-old cigarettes and whiskey. The kind where people who aren’t expecting their persnickety in-laws to arrive any minute hang out
But finally, Hallelujah, a light shone that temporarily chased away the shadows: the video rewarded me with a fixed sink! And then, at last, another—
Knock, knock. My in-laws. Shit. I fixed the leaky sink to get to Level 10, yet the floor of my front entrance way remained at Level 0.
I really need to get a life.