Falling off the video game cliff

I’m awful at video games.

My go-to move is falling off a ledge/falling into a pool of water and getting eaten by sharks and/or alligators/falling into radioactive sludge and/or another toxic substance.

I’m also a master at the button-smash move. This is usually – but not always – accompanied by optional terrorized screaming, as if the little pixilated sharks and alligators are threatening something more real and dear to me than a little pixilated protagonist. This also inspires a lot of cursing. I’d be ashamed of myself, but I’d have to be capable of shame first.

Despite my all-around incompetence, I keep trying. Partially because I’m stubborn and partially because my Little Professor loves video games. For some reason, he wants to play together.

You should have seen me trying my hand at “Epic Mickey.” (Since I will never, ever beat “Epic Mickey,” I won’t even consider trying “Epic Mickey 2” – I am not that much a glutton for punishment.)

In between screams, you’re supposed to repair Cartoon Wasteland by flinging paint everywhere. I excel at randomly flinging things around, so this was no problem.

The problem was that (redacted) hippo. The game designers combined two of my favorites – toxic soup and jumping on tiny ledges – and added a little extra kick in the pants by forcing you to jump on the snout of a giant “Hungry, Hungry Hippo”-type thing. It opened and closed its mouth, so if you didn’t time the jump just right, you went down its gullet, and if you didn’t jump again immediately, you flew off as it opened its mouth and landed in toxic sludge.

That hippo was my Waterloo. I spent hours screaming and cursing at that thing, jumping over and over again, only to land in toxic sludge. It got to the point where the neighbors probably heard me screaming like murder fodder in a slasher flick and probably thought, “oh, video games … again?”

Once – only once – I got past the hippo, only to fall off the very next ledge. That’s the point where I curled up in a fetal ball, wept bitter tears and swore never again would I play a video game prominently featuring a hippo in an obstacle course. In fact, I swore to avoid hippos altogether, everywhere. I haven’t found it a difficult oath to keep.

The Long Suffering Husband was of the opinion that I was being overly dramatic. I was of the opinion that he was being less than empathetic. It was a little dicey there for a while, but we pulled through.

The Little Professor sat me down for an intervention.

“Momma … you … you … “

“Just say it.”

“You’re just not good at video games,” he blurted. “I’m sorry, Momma.”

“Does this mean I don’t have to play video games any more?”

“No, it’s too much fun watching you die.”

At least now I know where I stand – at the edge of a cliff, about to fall off.

(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at swallace@pafocus.com)