Sunday, May 18, 2008

Call of nature stronger than Call of Duty

Last week, I held an empty plastic barrel above my head and said, “Finally, I did it!”

“That’s quite an accomplishment,” my wife Kara replied, and I think she might have meant it. Not everyone has what it takes to polish off an entire barrel of cheese balls without calling in for assistance. Kara had given up on the effort long ago, demonstrating her complete lack of perseverance by popping a handful into her mouth and saying, “Ew, these are stale.” Champions know that freshness is a state of mind.

I’d been working my way methodically through the thirty-five ounce container ever since our New Year’s party when we forgot to put it out on the table, which was a shame because that barrel really would have classed the place up. Thirty-five ounces might not sound like all that much, but the last time I saw a barrel that size, Donkey Kong was rolling it down a ramp.

You have to take accomplishments in life where you can get them, because most of the time, despite your best efforts, you’re going to get blown away by twelve-year-olds. My buddy Derek and I discovered this last weekend as we attempted for the first time to venture into the world of online PlayStation 3 gaming. Bolstered by our recent achievements in both cheese ball and beer consumption, and after amassing decades of life-wasting, game-playing experience between us, Derek and I confidently stretched out our button-mashing fingers as Call of Duty 4, the most popular online video game for the PlayStation 3 and opiate for countless masses of nerds, loaded.
Kara walked through the room and said, “I thought you guys were going to play multiplayer. You only have one controller.”

She can be so silly sometimes. Nobody plays video games against people in the same room anymore. You play against people in other cities and countries so that you don’t have to share your Doritos.

Eight dispiriting hours later, Derek and I had taken turns being killed in ways too numerous and horrible to describe. The game allowed players to wear headsets that broadcast their voices through their opponents’ TVs, so our deaths were usually accompanied by prepubescent cackling.

“Dude, that kid sounds like he’s twelve,” Derek said after getting knifed in the back by someone with the user name KillingUsoftly96. It occurred to us that the year 1996 was likely printed on this kid’s birth certificate just like it had been printed on our high school diplomas. Don’t these kids have better things to do than hanging around online, killing thirty-year-olds? They should be out doing normal kid stuff like I did when my games were on pause, things like catching butterflies and experimenting with fireworks.

After Derek left, our puppy Memphis came and sat beside me as I played one last game. She looked at me and then to the door. Then back to me.

Memphis, can you make it for another three minutes? This game doesn’t have a pause button,” I explained, rationally. Memphis’ housebreaking had finally started to take; she had gone four days without an accident, a streak that in our household could be described as nothing less than Ripkenesque.

She looked at me with eyes that I interpreted to say, “You go ahead and have fun. I’ll just patiently sit here and hold it.”

“Good puppy,” I said.

As the timer counted down to less than a minute, I stood up to let Memphis know that I meant business. I began to scooch slowly towards the door as my fingers continued pounding the buttons in a futile attempt to avoid the adolescent killer angels. I congratulated myself on my multitasking abilities, simultaneously providing both exemplary pet care and valuable target practice to the next generation. But Memphis had been busy doing some multitasking of her own, both snapping her streak and teaching her owner a thing or two about priorities.

You can drum Mike Todd out of your platoon at


  1. ewwwwwwwwwww did you step in it???

    And yeah my 12 year old has to teach me a bunch about his games.

  2. Good to see that Memphis is doing well with your training. Perhaps the 12-year-olds...oops...I mean you and Derek...will soon make her Team Captain.

    Congratulations on polishing off the cheese balls!

  3. *stomping feet in anger here

    Now who went and invented a video game without a pause button? What kind of world are we coming to? I hope it was a puddle of pee and not a giant pile of... well.. you know. Nothing brings on the gag factor around here faster than a fresh dog poop in the house. RALPH!!!

  4. Burf -- I only stepped in it figuratively. And don't trust those twelve-year-olds!

    Loon -- Many thanks on the ball polishing. Wait, that didn't come out right.

    Sheri -- Dude, I share your anger. It's completely not conducive to house training. And yes, it was a puddle. I think that's the good kind. They both have their charms.

  5. Perl Necklace5/20/2008 2:30 PM

    Jaime read this column and loved it. She's scared to leave a comment becuase she thinks that she's not witty I will step in with a witty remark.

    The truth is that a barrel of balls would've been very appropriate for your New Years Eve Party. Jered Earl would've loved it.

  6. Ah, you tricked us! I thought, 'finally, a puppy-free column' but you cleverly snuck it back in at the end.

    Donkey Kong would be disappointed.

  7. Perl -- Dude, that's nice. Jaime rocks and she should read a comment or two of mine if she needs inspiration on how to leave unwitty comments. "Barrel of Balls" would also make a decent band name.

    Allover -- As you've probably come to expect, next week's column blows, but there's not a single Memphis mention. Promise.

  8. Your column really hit home this week as I live in a house with 3 boys (4 counting my husband), all of whom have inherited their dad's "video game gene." Sadly, I cannot promise that you weren't, at one time, playing against my 3-year-old (Unless, of course, it was naptime)...

    Love your column! I've linked you as a favorite! :)


  9. Paula -- Ha! Can you at least feed them something sticky so they won't be able to push the buttons as fast? Thank you for the kind words - we have achieved reciprocal linkage.

  10. Dude,
    I was just reading your column again and I do not get the Ripkenesque reference. I really hope you're not slowly turning into Dennis Miller. The last thing I need is a column riddled with references that Don Quixote wouldn't even understand (that was just an example of what not to do)

    If I wanted to feel stupid, I'd just ask my crazy boss why he hired me and he would take care of that.