When Being an Early Adopter Spins Out.

I am aware and annoyed that the world tends to hate on new things as they come along, picking apart all of the potential dangers and drawbacks before anyone has had a chance to even try them.

Remember when Pokemon Go came out? All the news stories were about people walking over cliffs or wrecking cars (or the possibilities of those things potentially happening) rather than the fact that an entire people group just emerged from their video-game-playing-basements and were all of a sudden getting loads of exercise and Vitamin D and even human interaction.

(I still marvel at the shocking paleness I witnessed those first few weeks when Pokemon Go was THE THING. I’m pretty sure some of those people had never visited outdoor parks in their lives before said parks contained Snorlaxes and Squirtles.)

The 80s in particular were full of this judge-first hobby – especially in Southern Christian circles. The Smurfs were satanic. Dungeons and Dragons was double satanic. Yoga would turn you into a new age witch. And speaking of witches, don’t forget about Stevie Nicks because she was totally a witch. Oh and now that we’re talking about music, any song played backwards will tell you to worship Satan (did you know that Congress actually held hearings on this issue??) And DO NOT read the clouds in “Aladdin” or look at the cover of “The Little Mermaid” or YOU WILL SEE THINGS.

It even carried over to the 90s when Harry Potter was the echelon of all things Satanic. Too far, too far.

I find this outlook endlessly pessimistic and more-than-a-bit off-putting and am seriously happy that the 80s are over. As such, I always try to give things a good, hard, first try before identifying their potential downsides. Why not look for the benefits of new ideas rather than the drawbacks?

With one exception.

Since the moment they emerged in an explosion of fad and frenzy, I have DETESTED fidget spinners.

Detested isn’t a deep enough word. Loathed, perhaps. Abominated. Is that a thing? I abominate fidget spinners.

I abhor the quiet, smoothly fizzing sound when other people use them around me (“isn’t this a No Fidget Spinning section of this restaurant? No? Please seat me in the No Fidget Spinning section – I’m allergic.”) and I am disgusted by the feeling of them spinning around on the top of my own finger, and I despise them spinning between my thumb and index finger. They literally make me shiver with horror. They give me the total heebs. And actual chill bumps.

Of course, every member of my family with the exception of myself owns and regularly carries one of these horrible devices. Including my husband. Even though he conceal carries, it grosses me out just knowing that vile thing is in his pocket.

Before he realized my intense repulsion by The Fidget Spinner, Chris came home one night with a surprise for me and each of the kids. He played it up, acting like he was the best in all the world (which he is. Or was, until this night.)

After presenting the children with thrilling trinkets for which they hugged him and thanked him profusely, he finally pulled out my surprise – and as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, it was a fidget spinner. But not just any bland old fidget spinner – it was a fidget spinner printed with graffiti, and therefore he looked at me expectantly, happy that he’d hit upon one of my many and varied interests.

IMG_2910“My” Fidget Spinner is the one on the far left. Though I would never claim such vileness as mine.

I’m pretty good at faking thankfulness for gifts I’m not thrilled about, but my complete enmity toward these items made me recoil and scream out “EW! I can’t stand Fidget Spinners!” and push it across the table as if it were a box full of hissing cockroaches.

His face fell and I immediately felt bad. And both kids began begging for my rejected gift.

“OOOH DAD! Can I have it?” “No can I have it?” “I’d really love to have it!” “So would I!”

“You could have at least pretended to like it and told me later so that I didn’t have to figure out which kid to give it to.”

I apologized profusely, but stayed vigilant in my absolute refusal of his inappropriate gift.

(It later got used as bribery to get Noah to behave for like three whole days and was totally worth it.)

(Poor Ali. If only she required more bribery, she too could own more fidget spinners.)

Although Ali and Chris are moderate enthusiasts, Noah has become a collector of Fidget Spinners and Widget Spinners (what he calls the two-sided ones) of all sizes. He pines after them and begs me to search Amazon for newly released ones. I do not demonize these pursuits (at least out loud), even though I cringe with thought of the sound of yet another softly spinning object in my house. Instead, I press on, supporting my family and even my son’s horrific obsession.

Even though fidget spinners just have to be Satanic.

The Death of a Grasshopper.

“Hey Mom! There’s a hurt Grasshopper out here!”

Noah had gone to the front porch to feed the neighborhood cat that is known at our address as Thomas.

(Thomas has many names – many more than we probably even know. He works the feline benefits system well, just as his predecessor Fred, ingratiating himself to (or guilting handily) all of the neighborhood in order to eat as many meals as possible.)

“Is he dead?”, I asked Noah.

(Back to the grasshopper here – not Thomas. Follow my train of thought, people!)

“No – he’s just hurt. He’s still wiggling.”

Based on where Noah was standing – right in front of the door – I knew the grasshopper had to have been a special delivery from Thomas himself. A thoughtful gift for us in exchange for our feeding efforts.

But we were doing school and I had no time to inspect my gift at that moment.

We found ourselves on the porch later in the day, doing our read-aloud and other subjects that we do as a group. Somehow I’d missed, yet again, properly appreciating this gift, so Noah picked him up on a leaf and brought him to me to inspect.

It was pitiful.

The lovely Grasshopper was confined to his side, clearly having lost one of his jumping legs and bleeding a brownish liquid from his Thorax.

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He looked at me imploringly, while focusing on his labored, slow breaths. It was almost as if I could hear his thoughts.

My dear lady, I apologize for the predicament in which I find myself. It appears your cat has made the attempt to make a gift of me. I hope you find me a worthy gift, but it is rather inconvenient that I am mortally wounded.

It was just terrible. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s not even my cat.

I am personally not nearly offended enough by Thomas’ outright-dead gifts – in fact, I have memorialized more than one:

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The-Beast

But there was something about this nearly dead gift that broke my heart. I just wasn’t sure what to do. Maybe he would recover somewhat, and slink away to heal – or maybe not.

Ah, my lady, I would love nothing more than to ease your discomfort by dragging my damaged exoskeleton into the bushes and die in peace, but alas, my limbs do not appear to be useful at the present time. Perhaps you could –

But we had school to do.

I do hope that Mr. Grassy enjoyed the reading of a chapter of “The Incorrigibles of Ashton Place”, and then a chapter in our Chemistry and Physics textbook. I ruminated over the possibility that at least, in his last moments of life, he could increase his knowledge and understanding of the cruel world that had murdered him.

Fascinating, So the electrons revolve around the nucleus? Who knew?

But…he didn’t die.

By the end of the reading, his breathing was even more painful to watch. More labored, more heaving. You could nearly hear him gasping and groaning. And he now lay in a small pool of his own bodily fluids.

It is most unfortunate, madam, that due to the physics of your cat, my personal chemistry is leaking onto your porch. I am most embarrassed. Perhaps now might be a good time to –

So I texted Chris for moral guidance.

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Chris has always been a freeze-er. Anytime he finds large spiders, he captures them carefully in my Tupperware and puts them in my freezer. Something about the violent crunching of stepping on a living being is more than he can handle.

(Obviously I draw the line at cockroaches entering my freezer. So he’s a flush-er of those.)

I am not a freeze-er. I find this somehow more cruel. Or at least me thinking about that gasping Grasshopper becoming colder and colder in his last moments was too much for me.

I wanted him to go out with his new education, not wishing he had a scarf.

Oh, thank you. I do hate to impose, but it would be most helpful if you could end this unfortunate situation.

So I folded him up in a piece of paper, added two leaves in for a further wall between him and my foot, took him out to the sidewalk (as Noah tailed me, asking if Grasshoppers go to heaven and how do I KNOW they don’t have souls?!?), and I stepped on him.

I picked up the paper and peeked in.

HE WAS STILL MOVING.

MADAM, this is most unhelpful. I am trying to maintain my dignity and composure, but this is quite unpleasant. Could you PLEASE try again?

This was the worst execution I’d ever been a part of. I felt sick, evil, and an all around persecutor of grasshoppers.

I quickly sat down the paper and thoroughly ensured his death.

The next time I fed Thomas I made sure to tell him to please be sure and leave only completely dead things in the future.

Well, if I was really your cat, you might get better gifts. Kiss my tail.

On Discovering That I’m a Prodigy.

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The year of 2017 will be forever remembered as the era where I made a monumental breakthrough on my journey of self-realization. If I were given one of those standard employee reviews where they asked me what my strengths and weaknesses were, before 2017 would be lacking a vital component of who I am.

Because 2017 was the year my husband acquired an NES Classic. Just before they were discontinued forever, might I add. It was for sure fate guiding my husband’s obsessive impulses so that I could discover my greatest ability.

I am a Dr. Mario genius.

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I had played it as a kid and remember being fairly good at the game, but we didn’t own it so I was not aware of my remarkable savant tendencies in the particular skill set that this game requires. Both playing on my own and in a two player game, I am STUNNING. My mind works in just the right way so that I can dominate, knowing instantaneously where the ideal place to land each dual-colored pill is. I can plan ahead, making sure that each killing of a virus is actually a double or triple virus kill, therefore sending extraneous and devastating blocks into my opponent’s pill bottle.

Lest you’ve forgotten your own childhood Dr. Mario experiences, the game works somewhat similarly to Tetris, in that you’re trying to clear stacks of similar colors. Except in this game, the plot is a bit thicker – you’re trying to cure viruses* with pills – three same-colored pill halves stacked on top of a virus clears it. Or if you’re just making a stack of pills, four same colored pills clears out.

When playing one player, I can continue the game indefinitely, despite the growing number of viruses at every level. The only thing that stops me is my eyes – they start to water and see double after a while – just like our mothers warned us, Nintendo will destroy your eyes.

When playing two player, each player selects their own level of difficulty, thereby leveling the playing field with a Dr. Mario handicap. When Chris and I play against each other, I choose level 11 or 12, and he chooses level 5. I have over double the number of viruses he has and that nearly makes it fair – but not quite, to be honest. I still savagely beat him 99% of the time.

Thankfully, Chris enjoys his regular beat down.

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Every time I play, I am re-amazed at myself. It’s as if I suddenly realized that I’ve always known how to fluently speak Russian but had just never encountered a Russian speaker to reveal my talent.

I have since been trying to analyze these previously untapped skill sets and figure out how to apply them in real life, becoming a multi-billionaire by my ability to sort the stock market, or analyze computer code to find (computer) viruses, or something. But I have yet to identify a profitable application of my genius. Perhaps I need to visit my old college advisor. But for now, I guess I’m just going to have to go on the video-game-entertainment circuit, wowing intent crowds with my ability to eradicate viruses in a stunningly efficient manner.

* Despite my love for this game (due mostly to my own mastery of it), the premise does slightly annoy me, as all us mothers know that “It’s just a virus” means “There is no pill in the world that can cure your kid right now so you just go on home and enjoy the misery of your sick kid until that virus runs its course over the next 7-10 days and also enjoy the fact that you just wasted a $35 co-pay.” So either Dr. Mario has made a breakthrough and found a pill that cures viruses, or this game is a complete lie to humanity. I’m putting my money on Dr. Mario being a pill-slinging savant. Just like me.