"LOSER!" I Shout. "I'm such a loser!" I kick the sheets off the bed. I could put my fist through a wall. I* could strangle somebody, or I could just keep screaming, "loser!" So that is what I do.
Alex, the husband, has no response. He's next to me with his vat of bedtime ice cream, and he's watching "Law and Order." We've seen this one already. Or we probably have. These days, one "Law and Order" is the same as the next, because these days I have BrickBreaker, a game on my BlackBerry in which you bounce a little balls around and pulverize bricks.
The reason I'm a loser is because I just lost a life for no reason whatsoever. Just . . . missed. Missed! I had four lives headed into Level 6, and now I have three. This is terrible. I'll never make it through Level 6 with just three lives. This is so pathetic.
"Can you hand me the clicker?" Alex says. "I can't hear with all your screaming."
"You used to care a lot more about my problems," I say.
"I refuse to support your addiction," he says.
Oh, for heaven's sakes. Mr. Melodrama. I am not addicted. I could stop anytime. Hang on, I just comleted Level 5, and hello, Level 6! This takes concentration. No one talk! I need a gun. The only way to break the metal bricks is if you get the gun. Getting the gun is random. I hope I get a gun. What if I don't get a gun? I am not getting a gun. I am banging into these stupid metal bricks, and no gun. Bang. Bang. Bang. This is what always happens in Level 6, as the ricochet makes the ball speed up, and I can't keep up, and then it's another life gone, another. Another.
Game over. I didn't even beat my high score of 4,630. This keeps happening. I have been banging my head against a wall at a measly 4,630 for months. Months. I can't get past Level 6. Because I am a loser. I have to call Claire, my sister, whose fault this is. This is her fault because she married James, who informed me this summer that he was a BrickBreaker player and that his high score was 10,800. I was not a serious player until that moment. I was just an occasional, once-a-month, waiting-in-the-doctor's-office player. When I learned of the discrepancy between James's high score and my own -- which at that time was, forgive me, Lord, under 3,000 -- I got serious. Getting serious has not done much for my score.
I have two theories about James and his 10,800. He is either lying, or he has a different version of the game.
I call Claire. "Listen, I need you to do me a favor," I say. "I need you to go look at James's BlackBerry and tell me what his high score is."
"He's sitting right here," she says. "Why don't you just ask to him?"
"Ssshhh!" I explain to her my conspiracy theory, his lying, his obstruction of justice. "We need to get to the bottom of this," I say, "because something is wrong with me, and I can't get past Level 6."
"Oh, honey, you are so far gone -- "
"You don't want to be addicted like James," she says. "He plays that thing in bed, okay?"
Ridiculous. James overhears. He tells her to tell me that he's going to have the game deleted from his BlackBerry. I tell her to tell him that I can't get past "a certain level." He wants to know which.
"Don't you dare tell him!" I say to Claire. I tell her to tell him that I think I have a newer version that's a lot harder than his version.
I can hear him laughing. "Tell her to delete the game off her BlackBerry before it's too late!" he cries.
It is too late. Because I am a loser. You shouldn't play games you're bad at. Why am I so bad at this? I need to understand. I need to get good.
In the morning, I Google "BlackBerry BrickBreaker new version?" Yes, this is how I spend my time. Lo and behold, I enter a forum discussing the game, the addiction, the high scores achieved on version 3.7 versus the updated 4.0. Well, then! There are two versions! I have to call Claire. I have to ask her to spy and find out which version James has. I consider posting a message to the forum about my problem. Surely these people, my people, will understand.
But no one playing either version has a high score as paltry as mine. "Von Maestro" has hit 14,885. And here's "Beck," achieving 20,475, at Level 34? And here's "Thunder" chiming in with 31,245.
My people! What is the matter with you, people? You have nothing better to do than play this stupid game? I lose all my lives on Level , which means I have . . . a life! Yeah, that's it. Only a loser keeps hitting her head against a wall. I'm a winner. Because I can walk away. Sure, I can. Watch me now.
Jeanne Marie Laskas's e-mail address is email@example.com.