I’d heard the uncharitable whispers: “His brain is an unkempt mess” and “His thoughts are badly disheveled.” This pained me greatly as I prided myself on appearing both kempt and sheveled. Many of these sotto voce critiques of my wordiness were true: I was a walking trove of excessive verbosity. And when I was prose-doping (taking literary performance enhancing drugs), I became a towering trove of staggering prolixity. It was all mental masturbation giving me the illusion of control and masking a feeling of helplessness. Then again maybe I was being too hard on myself? Maybe I just liked to have fun with worms. See what I did there? You thought I’d say fun with words, instead I said fun with worms. What can’t I do? A lot. Because most of my grandiose ruminations don’t amount to a hill of beans. Or (as the prose-doping kicks in) don’t amount to a towering mound of staggering legumosity.
My fondest dreams, hopes and aspirations (which last I checked all meant about the same thing and don’t require 3 words almost identical in meaning) were dashed against the realities of a vicissitudinous world (in this case I probably should’ve used 3 words there instead of vicissitudinous). It’s dispiriting to be entangled in a world of hyper-awareness, where all deeds are immediately placed on a ledger and judged as to their conformity with one’s world-view. I should be participating rather than calculating. As Eric Burden so movingly sang ♫We gotta get outta this place…if it’s the last thing we ever do. ♫
I’ve run the gamut of methods to “get out of this place” and have synopsized their effectiveness or worthiness below:
- Drugs: No control, too expensive, mostly illegal. May cause me to become either unbearably wonderful or irretrievably repugnant. Of course maybe there’s a combinative Chinese version of this whereby I’d become Sweet and Sour Dave – one can only wonder what the fortune cookie would say.
- Alcohol: Short term, physically disruptive, flammable. Among the many virtues of alcohol are its ability to make one feel less self-conscious. And while that may be a good thing, I think I’m a better person when I’m inhibited. I do some of my best work knowing someone’s going to criticize me if I f*ck up. And as soul-killing as criticism is, fear of judgment is a great motivator and probably more responsible for people behaving well than anything else. Shame is also a great motivator and probably the reason sex is so damn good. Anyway alcohol can sneak up on you and dumb you down. For example, I’ve crawled into a bottle a few times and when the alcohol wore off, I was stuck inside – not good. After I got out, I retained the cubic shape of a Jack Daniel’s bottle for 3 days. Nah, alcohol is too temporary and too polluting at the cellular level.
- Sex: Close to the answer. Absolute and total healing when you merge with a loved one. And if you factor in the cosmic ballet of lovemaking: the arousing foreplay, the ecstatic merging and the resolving afterplay; the entire 6-minutes is really top-notch. It’s a bodily function with lots of pizzazz. That is to say it activates magisterial feelings of excruciating pleasure and agonizing beauty that elevates our souls. Then again there is the gooey clean-up afterwards. And post-coitus no one wants to get stuck sleeping on the wet spot.
- Binge-watching Shows: Like anything with the word “binge” in it, there’s always an equal and opposite “purge” associated with it. Besides, these TV shows are about other people’s experiences (and usually make-believe ones at that) and I need authentic experiences. Sometimes watching people do or say something I wish I did, makes it less likely I’ll ever try to more fully express myself; reasoning if they’ve done it, why do I have to. Can you say “vicarious?” As Clint Eastwood so movingly said, “Well can you, punk?”
- Counseling: Poor value. Making an appointment is one thing, but showing up means putting on something presentable or at least something without a hole in it. The problem is you can’t help but want to impress your counselor with the weight of the world you shoulder – reveling in your supposed specialness and your access to levels of victimization only you could withstand. Too much psychological trophy-hunting – also not good. You’re talking to a facilitator, but you’re always editing and god forbid you tell them what’s really on your mind – then they’ll have to put down their notes and call 911. Besides the 50-minute professional hour is a rip-off. Maybe I should pay a 50% discount because talk is cheap.
- Exercise: Great in theory as a remedy to over-arching problems. It’s a healthy enough sublimation, however it doesn’t really solve anything and it just ends up making you hungry which causes you to eat more so you put on weight and need to exercise more to lose it. Really just a vicious circle and is how most of us justify lounging around.
- Spiritual Meditation. Recognition of Soul. Depersonalizing your Existence: This absolutely works full-time, all the time and is without a doubt the answer or more accurately “the way.” However, it’s no fun, boring as hell and is inimical to the jumpy human mind so demanding of attention and satisfaction. It’s been said by people with more adipocytes than me that: “There’s a thin line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” Well the same can hold true for meditation. So although it’s “the way,” in order to doggedly pursue it, I’ll need to develop the kind of beatific resoluteness associated with the Dalai Lama or even his wife, Mrs. Lama. I’ll employ #7 when I grow up. Meanwhile #8 will help me schlep my way through the Garden of Earthly Delights.
- Video Solitaire: Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes. Take me to your predictably pleasant Newtonian universe where you demand nothing and provide a satisfying paradigm requiring 2nd nature autonomic skills and ∅% committment. All praise be to the Video Solitaire Gods whose creation is tranquilizingly effective and utterly controllable. Now if it looked good in a dress and could make dinner we’d have something. Overall though a real game changer and a boon to mankind’s mental health. See Below
This is the “Below” I was Referring to Above
Video Solitaire (not to be confused with Mafioso hit man Vito Solitari) has been my salvation since Microsoft casually garnished their Disc Operating System (DOS) with this devastating little sprig of parsley. And despite the unsurpassed delectability of its Disc Operating System, video solitaire is the sprig I devour first. As Microsoft advertisements used to ask (Maybe they asked it movingly, but I thought I’d retire that little trope. I’ve used it twice already and I use it twice later) “Where do you want to go today?”
Ans: Solitaire, Bill G. I wanna play Video Solitaire. Now. That’s where I want to go. I don’t want to donate to NGOs eradicating Smallpox in Burkina Faso. I don’t want to “Shocked at what Kirstie Alley looks like now.” I want my Video Solitaire. My wobbie. My adult binky of first resort. Give it to me Bill G. or I swear I’ll jump…into an even more comfortable chair.
Now I know it’s only Video Solitaire, but I like it (I think the Stones once said something like this about rock n’ roll). I realize Video Solitaire is not the most generative or productive thing to do – especially when people are starving in…wherever that place is they go to starve. I should aspire to more. To help my fellow man. Playing all this Video Solitaire is not only beneath me, it’s beneath most any primate on earth. In fact, it’s Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Even they would move on.
And yet Video Solitaire and its healing properties have allowed me to function as what appears to be a capable, contributing adult since 1995. And even though Microsoft no longer includes it in their bundled package, it’s too late. I can now get my Video Solitaire from other sources and my bundled package can stay in my pants under my belt and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. By playing Video Solitaire, the money I save on alcohol/drugs/counseling/binge-watching is incalculable. Thank you Bill Gates and whoever invented solitaire. Maybe its inventor is whom Neil Diamond so movingly pays tribute to in his smash 1968 hit “Solitary Man.” The inspired soul who invented solitaire should be receiving millions in royalties or bitcoins or at least gift certificates to Massage Envy. He or she has broken the circle of self-flagellation and created an avenue for expressing benign behaviors without the use of drugs, alcohol or recreational sex – is there any other kind? OK maybe 3 times in your life you had sex to make a baby. The rest of the time it’s “Hey let’s take 6 minutes to do this unbelievably pleasurable thing we take completely for granite. Or is that grant it? Well something better be granite or you’re not gonna having sex.
Solitaire has always been there for me. Even in the old analog days of dealing the cards onto a table and physically stacking them atop each other by hand. Solitaire has never shushed me, sassed me or threw up on my carpet. Even when the sun explodes in 4 billion years there’ll still be ready, steady solitaire. It’s actually referred to obliquely in the Book of Genesis: “And the Red Man shall lay atop the Black woman – if it suits them.” Solitaire is the perfect companion when you’re all over the place. It reigns in and focuses one’s scattershot attention span. Video Solitaire’s affirming methodical behavior is a reminder to everyone just how wonderful we can be if we were a pre-programmed card game operating within very narrow confines. And when was the last time Video Solitaire was ever potty-mouthed. So you see my point: unflagging, consistent and uncomplaining – thy name is Video Solitaire.
Anyhoo Video Solitaire has healed me in ways Season 4 of Hogan’s Heroes never could – even when you include the 2-part episode with that “Hogan dahling” Russian woman. No sir. Solitaire is reliable enduring, predictable and available in different deck styles so you’re actually encouraged to judge the deck by its cover.
Video Solitaire: without it I’d have to do stuff with people who are different from me. With Video Solitaire all things are possible in the postage stamp-sized world where it reigns. Or is that rains? Well something has to be wet if you’re going to have sex. Without the fortifying dependability of Video Solitaire our mental institutions would be overwhelmed by lost souls demanding order in their worlds. Thank you King Solitaire. Reign o’er us benevolently. Take me to your alternating red and black kingdom and let me know the gratifying pleasure of placing a red 6 onto a black 7 thereby exposing an Ace – does it get any better than that? Maybe, but I don’t like to concern myself with what I might be missing out on, when I have a sure thing in Video Solitaire. As Tammy Wynette so movingly sang in 1968, ♫Make the world go away ♫. And now with Video Solitaire, you can.
Warning: Video Solitaire may not be suitable for people who attach a tire iron to their TV remote and still manage to lose the damn thing. In fact nothing is really suitable for those people. Video Solitaire can be a choking hazard if you try to swallow the iPhone it’s played on. Playing Video Solitaire is not a substitute for basic hygiene. Leaving money in your Will to Video Solitaire may result in the State confiscating all your assets. Playing Video Solitaire on Porn Hub may promote the creation of little solitaires requiring child support. If you witness our leaders playing solitaire with Russian card decks, just shut-up and move on. Singles looking for love in double solitaire chat rooms should be aware your opponent could be a family member.
A Note to Those Survivors Who’ve Continued Reading
And as I close this appreciation of Video Solitaire as a pixellated elixir for a pinball reactive society, my mind wanders to those photographs where people reenact a family snapshot taken 30 years ago. I wonder if Christ returned to earth and was getting savvy with social media, if he’d redo the crucifixion photo from 2000 years ago. The only difference I think is that he’d be wearing Nike’s and a designer loincloth. Remember it was Jesus who so movingly said in Matthew 37-39: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” And the second is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
And while I try to practice and animate those principles of faith, I need to emulsify them with healthy doses of Video Solitaire so I may drink heartily of the cup. It’s all part of the plan. And as I consider a world without Video Solitaire I shudder at the prospect of having to play Tetris till all my pieces fit together.