My life has been crazy lately. I’ve been doing major renovations on my home, but sometimes I run out of money to do the work, so I need to earn more. That’s when I have to go out and serve smoothies at the local cafe, or prepare pizza at the pizza joint, or go fishing up at the lodge. I make the most money with fishing. I should probably just economize and not be such a slave to the decorating needs of my igloo, but I am weak.
And my clothes, I get a new catalogue each month with clothes that I simply have to own, so it’s back to work to get more money. Sometimes this means unloading coffee bean trucks (and dodging some very real dangers, such as falling anvils and dead fish), other times it means rescuing pets from grave danger, since they always seem to get stuck on icebergs with a bunch of sharks circling them. Rescuing pets doesn’t really make a whole lot of money, but still, there is something satisfying about saving a pet puffle.
Then I remember that my own puffle is back at the igloo, hungry. It wants a walk. It wants to play. It wants a bath. It wants to be combed. It wants to sleep. Pet ownership has serious responsibilities, it turns out, even on Club Penguin, and puffles, the only kind of pet you can buy there, are needy little bastards.
Club Penguin, for those who don’t already know, is a safe online community for the kiddie set. Now you are probably wondering what the hell an old-as-dirter like me is doing on there, what, am I some kind of deviant pervert? No, not a pervert, it’s just that Andrew, my grandson, likes to login to Club Penguin in the mornings after breakfast and before school. He loves it there. He uses Jim’s laptop, and, since my computer is one desk over from Jim’s laptop, he has decided that we absolutely must do Club Penguin together. We waddle around the place together, he leads, I follow. I try to sneak in some work while he is waddling around, but he notices right away and puts a quick stop to it. And he pimps me out whenever he wants to buy stuff and is low on money. He gets me to log into his account and earn money for him.
I live in constant fear of the little penguins who try to ‘friend’ me, and the pushy little buggers do this a lot. It’s awkward, because for an adult to befriend some total stranger penguin-kid feels wrong on so many levels. I usually run away as fast as my fat penguin feet will carry my sorry penguin arse, but they are a determined lot, those fellow penguins. And even though the only reasonable thing is to simply not accept a request for friendship, you have to do so knowing that you are probably destroying the fragile confidence of some wretched friendless penguin who only ever just wanted to be your friend. You can break the kid’s heart by telling him to bug off or you can be creepy by friending him. Tough call.
Regarding pet ownership, I own exactly one puffle, it is blue and is very well cared for. Andrew, on the other hand, owns about ten of the things, all of which are starving and never get to play or sleep or bathe or anything. And here’s the thing. This upsets me. I am constantly ragging on him to feed the damn things and play with them, and then it occurs to me that I am actually giving the kid hell for not feeding a string of code, at which point I feel silly and slink off to feed my own puffle, which sure has a big appetite for a code-based non-life-form.
The island (I think it’s an island) even has a CIA type organization. I work for that organization from time to time, although I suck at it, which is too bad because if I was good at it I’d be able to win all sorts of very cool spy gear. Andrew is good at the job, but refuses to help me, all he does when I ask questions is make exasperated noises at me, with over-dramatic eye-rolling. Apparently it’s okay for me to help him make money at other games on Club Penguin, but he isn’t about to help me make money.
So this is how I spend about 1/2 hour on my weekday early-mornings. I used to meditate during this time period, now I buy stuff on Club Penguin and pay for it by catching fish and catching bags of coffee beans off a delivery truck. I think this is what regression looks like.
God help me, all I want is to be voted off the island, but there’s nobody to vote me off. And I know that even if there was, Andrew’d vote me right back on again.