Tuesday, September 15, 2009

248 Days UP - "Has boxing been good to you?"

Earlier today, while reaching over (and ostensibly cutting) a group of middle school children who were waiting patiently around a table for a sample of a mini-cinnamon roll-esque treat, I spotted a gorgeous Indian woman who immediately caught my attention. Thankfully she hadn't spotted me yet, hastily scarfing down the remnants of the pastry, licking the tiny paper cup for one last spot of flavor. She was busy on her iPhone, the modern day symbol of cultural and technical savvy. She was small, very petite, with dark skin and jet black hair, and...as I'm incredibly oblivious when it comes to clothing and fashion, so I can only note that she was not naked, nor was she wearing something that excessively hid or displayed her figure.

So there I was in a Trader Joe's in Brooklyn, presented with a challenge I've failed hundreds of times before.

I want to talk to her.
She's probably not interested in you.
I want to talk to her.
She probably has a boyfriend, or a husband, or a girlfriend.
I want to talk to her.
She probably doesn't want to be bothered right now.
I want to talk to her.
But there's no good reason to do that.

Let's jump back in time a little bit real quick. About 2 hours earlier I was sitting at home on my Xbox 360, getting pummeled by Seth, the final boss in Street Fighter IV. I was playing as Chun-Li, my 2nd favorite character in the series (having already beaten the game with my go-to guy Ken the day before), but having a real heck of a time taking 2/3 rounds against this character, who, as final bosses go, packs quite a punch. He's also a bit of a dick. He practically gives you the first round, then proceeds to 'power up' and goes ballistic during the next two. Despite my best efforts I got knocked out AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. It took nearly 45 minutes before I finally eeked out a win. A video of this period of time would have shown me cursing up a storm, speaking to and personifying the A.I. in the game ("Of course you're going to do that, why should you give me a chance, you're having too much FUN, aren't you?!?") - and eventually, stone cold quiet rage.

God I hate you Seth

I eventually won because I HAD TO. It was a moral imperative. I was simply not going to get up from that couch until Seth went down. Giving up wasn't an option (neither was changing characters for the record, in case you were wondering). So I just kept banging away, trying different techniques, getting destroyed over and over but doing just a little bit more damage each time until I finally devised a winning combination of kicking, sweeping, and backing away (thus dubbed the Chun Li Kicky-Sweepy-Runny technique) to ensure victory.

I mention this little game story because the parallels between my undeniable resolve when it comes to completing a task in a video game and certain very specific real world interactions never cease to amaze me. In Street Fighter IV terms, when I see a girl I'd like to talk to I basically think of all the hundreds of ways I could get beaten in the fight, and instead of pressing 'Start' I put the controller down and walk away immediately. Victory seems like such a ridiculously slim option that it's the only logical thing to do.

The reality is there was nothing this girl could have said that would have upset me more than having Seth with a tiny sliver of health and HUGE lead and blowing it due to a series of unblockable combos without a chance for recovery. Normally my justification is: "I'm having fun along the way with video games!" but no, that game had gone far past the point of fun. I wanted to reach into the game and break Seth's weird shiny glowy neck myself. And all those stupid scientists running around in the background too.

Now, of course I wasn't thinking about any of this at the time - I was busy staring at the spice area running 'failure scenarios,' through my head, as I am apt to do. But, the victory against Seth must have done something to me, because I actually powered through all the negativity, demons and nightmarish visions and in a semi-confident stride I followed iPhone girl into the frozen foods aisle, caught up with her and tapped her on the shoulder.

"Excuse me..."
"Hmm?" (she gave a sort of odd deer in headlights look to me, like she was in trouble for something, which I thought was kind of funny)
"Hey, I saw you over there, and I knew I'd be kicking myself for the rest of the day if I didn't come over to you...so uh, I'm Matt."
"Hi, Matt I'm Natalie. It's nice to meet you..."

Her face then turned apologetic as she told me she was currently engaged (though the conspiracy theorist in me wonders where the RING was!), and then she thanked me for the compliment and told me I made her day. It's a shame I never got to my second line because I had NO IDEA what I was going to say, but I was certain it was going to be hilarious - something along the lines of a "anyways, I just wanted to ask if you knew where the deli meats were...", probably followed by some frozen food prop humor.* In any event, I wrapped up our short little tryst and proceeded to find the next item on my shopping list.




Although, really, it wasn't a Game Over at all. After so many years of not trying, it felt good to break down that mental barrier and be willing to do what I did today. I'm gonna call it a victory instead. I imagine in the future it'll get easier as well, much like Chun Li's Kakukyakuraku. You guys know what I'm talking about.

I guess what I'm trying to say here in a nutshell is that getting politely rejected in a Trader Joe's is no worse than a 45 minute brawl against the final boss in a video game, and thus all gamers should keep that in mind the next time someone catches their eye. Profound, I know.


P.S. After 7 months and 9 days, my lengthy bout with unemployment has finally come to an end. I start my new job tomorrow. I have a feeling my first day at the new job is going to feel really weird. As will the money in my wallet.

Currently Playing: Arkham Asylum's Challenge Modes, Defense Grid, and a nice discounted Puzzle Quest, on top of the aforementioned Street Fighter IV rounded out my last week of unemployment. Glad I got the game time in before heading back to the daily grind!

*There's a reason I haven't done this stuff before. And there will be mistakes I know I'm destined to make that I can't even pre-emptively make fun of!

1 comment:

lalala said...

New Job!? What is it???