I have a Ms. Pac-Man problem. Though my days are now consumed with work, I still plant myself on my black leather couch whenever I have a free moment and play, play, and play some more until I reach a personal best. I now have a second callous on my thumb. My original callous comes from years of writing longhand: all those short stories, novellas, poems, and novels. I’ve been a writer since the fourth grade. Ms. Pac-Man has only been in my life since last Christmas. Clearly, she takes a lot of my time.
What most people(my brother, namely) fail to recognize is that this video game, the carbon copy of the 80s arcade game formatted just for televisions, is therapeutic. It releases stress, allows my mind to wander all over its rugged topography. When I play, I begin to let go of all that is flooding my mind: work, personal life, spirituality, family, money, health. I coach myself during these moments. I tell myself I can do better. I push myself to move forward despite the bleary eyes, carpal tunnel flare-ups, low energy. I run through that game in a way my weak ankles won’t allow me in real life. Like walking or cooking or dancing or writing, playing Ms. Pac-Man is me time.
Today I had to tell Geek Boy to leave me alone. After two more awkward voicemails and yet another sappy e-card, I felt sick. If anyone I really dug sent me an e-card saying “I can’t get you out of my mind” with a message composed of a verse from a Duran Duran song, I might think it clever. But I’m just not that into Geek Boy so I had to let him know I would no longer respond. I felt a little guilty until this evening’s downtime. As I chomped my way through video pellets, I worked through my feelings about this latest tragicomic chapter.
Geek Boy needs Ms. Pac-Man. Rather than wishing he was John Cho, he should appreciate his good qualities. Of course, there are times I wish I looked like Maria from Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. I wish I were thinner and hotter. But I value my sense of humor, intelligence, pluckiness, determination, and overall love of people. I can’t go through life waiting for phone calls or invitations to dance. I’m a leader for a living. I need to live that. Playing Ms.Pac-Man is proof, that, despite feeling exhausted, a few extra pounds and the need for more cash, distant girlfriends and non-existent boyfriends, I can do anything I desire. Whether it’s reaching the banana level or sitting in the big chair behind the big desk, I am worthwhile. Someday I hope to meet someone who feels equally proud of himself.