Alternate title: You Down With OCD? (Yeah You Know Wii!)
1982: My grandparents purchase a video game system from Mattel called an Intellivision. It is boxy, with faux-wood-paneled sides and clunky controllers tethered with thick coils of cord. The games are fat little cartridges you push in the side of the console, and they have names like "Frog Bog" and "Lock N' Chase." The graphics are crude, awful, but we grandchildren are dazzled. I play until my right hand cramps from rolling the smooth, silver disc back and forth, until my dreams are of nothing but swallowing pixellated flies for fifteen points. These video games, I think, are kind of magical.
1986: My parents give my brother and I a small personal computer for Christmas. It comes with a joystick and a faux-wood-paneled file box of floppy disks. One of them is King's Quest, and my brother and I spend hours typing commands like see rock, move rock, look under rock, pick up pouch, open pouch, and get coin. We make maps on the graph paper my father brings home from the office. We become excellent typists. We play until bedtime, until we are bleary-eyed and stuck on one impenetrable puzzle. I lie awake, running permutations of simple commands in my head, my fingers flying over an imaginary keyboard. Computers are amazing, we are sure of it.
1990: My mother wins a Nintendo Game Boy in a Catholic Daughter's League dinner raffle. (For the record: I have never won a raffle, drawing, or lottery in my life, likely because my mother wins everything and has soaked up all the familial luck.) My brother and I take turns playing Tetris and I cannot get enough. Sprawled across my twin bed and listening to Milli Vanilli and Wilson Phillips cassettes, I play until my thumb goes numb and then I play some more. At night, I close my eyes and see nothing but swiftly falling blocks, blocks I must rotate into neatly nested rows, even those awful small pieces which never quite work. Tetris is the most addictive substance I have encountered in my short, sheltered life.
Hiatus: Living. High School. College. Other addictive substances. Shenanigans. Boys. Growing up.
2004: My brother-in-law leaves a Playstation and a few games at our house. It is the middle of winter and I am pregnant with my first child. I am alternatively nauseated, vomiting, tired, and restless. When I can't sleep at night, my husband and I play Tekken 2 and it is a welcome distraction. We play until our thumbs and the meaty part of our hands ache from all the kick-kick-kick-punch-punch-roundhouse combos. When my husband wants to go to bed I say, "Oh, one more game?" Fighting games are shockingly fun, and so much better than thinking about throwing up.
2006: I am now a mother of two. I purchase milk and diapers and bananas. I wipe noses and floors and counters and bums in an almost endless succession. I am hopelessly in love with my children and, like so many parents, I don't take very good care of myself. I don't have time to work out, which is OK because I kind of hate working out. In the interest of survival and living in the moment, things slide. Literally. Being obsessed with anything seems like an extravagant luxury: we have long ago given that Playstation back to my brother-in-law. When I do lie awake at night, it is to nurse a baby or listen for a sick child or worry about bills. This is so much harder than it looks, I think.
2007: I receive a laptop for my birthday. I start a blog. I stay up late into the night typing and clicking until my neck cramps. While creatively fulfilling, this endeavor--coupled with the two kids--does my ass no favors at all. It is time to start working out. Tomorrow. Right after I post something.
2008: This nice lady decides to give away a Wii Fit on her blog. (For the record: I am reluctant to enter because of aforementioned Raffle Curse.) Although it has been years and years since I've owned a video game system, the Wii Fit intrigues me. Maybe, maybe, I think, this is a rare opportunity to channel my base, obsessive, competitive nature into something healthy, something constructive, something for me. Perhaps I will actually work out after the children are in their beds, playing until my whole body cramps from too much kick-kick-punch-punch-yoga-snowboard-move-rock-look-under-rock. (There will be rocks, right?) Perhaps I will be unable to stop working out, thinking about my future workouts as I lie in bed at night, imagining my motions like so many leaping frogs and falling blocks. Perhaps it will be magical, like 1982 all over again, but with less wood paneling and much more ass. Filled with optimism, I write an essay. I hit "Publish." My ass and I hope for the best.