this is literally what i have been saying since i was born
four for you Pope Francis, you go Pope Francis
I’m so happy right now.
Wow. Respect. :)
When I was a kid, I used to like to sneeze straight up in the air when I was in bed, so that it felt like cool mist was raining back down on me. Just now, as I’m lying here awake in a different time zone than I grew up in, I had to sneeze and leaned over to do so into my elbow. I suppose this means I’m grown up now. It’s the mundane things that remind me of that. Most of the jokes I make are adolescent as ever, and have to do with toilets or ethnicities, but when I play Pac-Man I’m almost as good as my dad; that means I’m not a kid anymore. Childhood was when summer nights didn’t get any better than the folks rounding up my sister and I for a quick trip to the frozen yogurt shop. They closed at 9 and we always ate dinner after 8, so we’d race against the traffic lights with the sun setting behind us on Fremont Boulevard, and we almost always made it. Dad’s student from the high school he taught at would give us free toppings, and I’d take them to be appreciative though I thought nuts ruined cookies ‘n’ cream, and my sister was nuts for thinking gummy bears were a good topping on any frozen dessert. Mum gave us some coins to play Ms. Pac-Man, which wasn’t even the original version of the game, and I’d blow the first two rounds eating the big flashing dots first and chasing the cherry. Dad always watched closely, because he used to play the original Pac-Man when he was my age. For the third and final round he’d step in and show us how it was done, which I thought meant I disappointed him because I couldn’t win just like I was no good at sports. He would eat the ghosts one after another to top the high score, unlocking all kinds of different fruits. Sometimes other kids watched and that made me proud of my old man. Prouder than I could ever be about him teaching calculus to 200 kids a day. We’d go home when the quarts of yogurt we’d gotten to save for later started to get all drippy, and hurry back down the boulevard in the warm darkness with our hands getting all sticky from the melted sugary goodness. Whatever else we did in those evenings never mattered, because hell, I’d just seen my Pops unlock the pretzel level of Ms. Pac-Man and I’d only ever seen the strawberry level on my own. That was a proper California summer night for me.
They make Pac-Man for mobile phones now and I downloaded it for free with a Starbucks coupon. My fingers were nimble like Jack in the candlestick rhyme as they flicked right and left across the 2-D joystick, nailing helpless ghosts and gobbling up dots. Pac-Man was unstoppable, a tour-de-LCD-force taking me all the way to the final round. It felt like nothing. It was so easy, so effortless. But my hands are no strangers to a handheld screen. I haven’t seen the joystick at Yogurt Delite in many years, but if it’s still there I’d avoid it because I don’t need to know that I’m just conditioned to text and swipe and send and receive—-and not some Pac-Man pinball wizard as my inner kid wants to believe. And I don’t need my dad to know that I no longer need him to get me past that third round, because I always want him there and I don’t need to know whether my Pac-Man skills make him proud. I know I make him proud, I don’t doubt that anymore, and I suppose it was the realisation of that lack of doubt that clued me in to my growth as a man. I’m a grownup now: there’s a whole lot more to life than Pac-Man.
My Pops teaches calculus to 200 kids a day and loves his family like no man since St. Joseph. I couldn’t be any prouder of the man.