June 2, 2008

Big Screen Tetris

The Unfinished Dad is pretty tired, because he played golf three days in a row—stay at home parent is a noble undertaking, that comes with certain…perks—so I will tell you about an accomplishment that supersedes all others.

On the back of our toilet here in Shreveport sits a demonic piece of plastic called Big Screen Tetris. Any time you find yourself, um, in our bathroom, you should pick up Big Screen Tetris and play a few rounds. Unlike the original, the object of our pocket-sized, commode version, is to complete 25 lines as quickly as possible.

My wife became proficient at what she affectionately called her “Tetris game” much more quickly than I did. No, this had nothing to do with time played, you sickos, but more to do with her uncanny ability to play video games and her own particular pluckiness. While she was posting times in the 1:30’s, I was wallowing somewhere in the low 2:00’s. (Sad, I know. Especially from someone who beat Mike Tyson’s Punch-out—yes it made it easier if you hit 007 373 5963 to skip all the other fighters—but in order to beat Tyson you had to be legit). Eventually, she posted the unheard of time of 1:26:00 and I was completely defeated. I had to give up the game.

But then I sat down one day and really tried to hammer a good one out. It was fun just to type that. Over the last few weeks, I have devoted way more time to Big Screen Tetris than anyone should. Like a devoted distance runner, my times started to fall. Then they started to plummet. Soon I too was lurking around 1:30 and I started to grow in confidence the longer I sat there. A quick note: There is something about the ironically small screen of Big Screen Tetris that ensures the best playing position is elbows on knees, sitting on toilet. Another quick note: You don’t even need to be doing anything else. In fact, I have played many a game with my pants up.

Let’s hurry and fast forward to Saturday evening. Annie just went to sleep, my wife was working on a quilt, and I was about to commence with a game of Big Screen Tetris. I made a few stupid mistakes right out of the box. However, with Big Screen Tetris, your mistakes can sometimes be your friends. If the right pieces fall, and those little empty boxes open up at the right time, you can find yourself reeling off a string of lines very quickly.

I was sitting there, in a nice groove, when all of a sudden there were no more lines left to complete. The game was over. Intuitively, I knew the time was fast. I don’t look up while I’m playing, though I have found myself having one line left without realizing, and some of my times have suffered. Ultimately, I decided that the fraction of a second that it takes to look up was too much to sacrifice. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.


Oh, and honey, I have no idea how it's possible to forget every day things like buying milk, and still have that old cheat code rattling around in my head.


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