I couldn’t tell you why most people play Facebook games. It’s a mystery to me. Most of the games are wildly repetetive, simple, and have a big button in them that says, “CLICK HERE TO ENDLESSLY ANNOY AND ALIENATE YOUR FRIENDS!”
And of course, everybody clicks that button, because if you click it you get an extra ten Glitter Clovers to feed your Sparkle Dragon, and if you don’t get your Sparkle Dragon up to Snuggle Power Thirty by this weekend you might as well just shoot yourself in the face.
I’m not saying that I don’t play Facebook games. I just have a much nobler reason for playing than most people do, and that noble reason is to beat my father at everything he does on the Internet.
I know that sounds awful, but you guys don’t know my dad. You don’t understand that there is pretty much nothing I will ever beat him at. Ever. He cooks better than I do, has been to more countries, knows how to paint The Bob Ross Way, and knows how to make things just by carving them out of wood. When I got into real estate, I called to tell him and he casually said, “Oh, yeah, I worked in a real estate office once,” and naturally he remembers everything about it, including all sorts of real estate tidbits that I have yet to learn anything about. When Taylor decided to get into photography, my father, sitting back on the couch and looking out from under the brim of his Rascall Flatts baseball cap, said, “What kind of SLR are you getting, because I heard that the Nikons really have a superior IPO.”
And you know what? I just made that jargon up just now, because I don’t know anything about cameras but my father does.
So maybe you can understand how absolutely critical it is for me to beat his score on Bejeweled Blitz. If I can have one victory, one stupid little win that I can rub his nose in, I will be a happy camper.
Some people thrive on a little bit of competition, but I will frankly tell you that I do not. Competition turns me into a violent, cussing little weasel who is capable of all kinds of slings and arrows just so I can come out on top. Bejeweled Blitz was fun until my father started to play, and now every time I sit down to enjoy a game, I end up frothing with vile rage, staring at his score at the top of the leader board and feverishly matching gems like a mental patient. When I can’t find any gems to match, I just glare at the computer screen and come up with new variations on the word ‘fuck’ until I find a way to move forward.
And so we get to last week.
It was at the very end of the weekly competition. I only had a few hours left before the scores would be wiped to make way for a new tournament. I was on my lunch break, sitting in Taylor’s computer chair, eyeing my father’s score with contempt. He sat at the top of the rankings, with 467,000 points. That horrible number, that 467,000, was like a hot needle in my brain, stabbing at me every time the game clock ran down and I finished with a piddling 200,000 or less.
Suddenly, though, in the middle of my last game, I glanced at the game clock and saw that with fifteen seconds left, I was at 450,000. I experienced a sudden burst of energy. This must be how generals feel on the battlefield, with the unexpected news that reinforcements will be arriving. 450,000. 450,000! I could beat him. It was possible. I began to click with wild abandon, watching the points climb as the clock ran down, and then…
I let out a whoop and banged on the desk with my fists. I had beaten him. I stared happily at the score screen as Taylor called in from the other room.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I just beat Dad’s score in Bejeweled.”
“Oh. Uh. Good.”
Not good. Great. FANTASTIC. AMAZING. The best day of my life. With a triumphant little flourish, I clicked ‘Continue’ to submit my score.
And the screen went blank.
I reached forward to throttle the monitor, my heart dropping into my stomach. I think I screamed. I heard Taylor jumping to his feet.
“IT’S BROKEN! IT LOST MY SCORE!”
I refreshed the page. There were the horrible, callous words: Bejeweled Blitz is currently undergoing maintenance! Bejeweled Blitz cannot submit your score right now! Bejeweled Blitz is taking a sledgehammer to your aspirations! Bejeweled Blitz is metaphorically punching you right in the eye! Thank you for playing Bejeweled Blitz!
I was numb.
Well, then. The only way to announce my victory was to call him. So I did.
“First thing,” I said when he answered the phone. “How long do you cook turkey for?”
“About the same time as chicken,” he said. “What else?”
“Second thing.” I took a deep breath. “I beat your Bejeweled Blitz but the system broke so you won’t see it, but I BEAT YOU I BEAT YOU I BEEEAAAAT YOOOOU.”
There was a pause.
“Oh, rreeeaally?” he said. “The system broke? Right. Sure.”
“No, no, you have to understand,” I said, clutching the phone to my ear. “That’s what happened. I had four hundred and ninety thousand. I beat you.”
“Oh, no, I believe you,” he sniggered. “I got about five hundred fifty thousand right after you got whatever you got. So I beat you again, but the system won’t show it. Because it broke.”
“NOOOO. I BEAT YOOOOOU.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you did! And then I beat you again!”
“NO YOU DIDN’T.”
“Sure I did! Darn, it’s just that stupid system, huh?”
Story of my life, you guys.