One of Tommy’s stocking stuffers was a Veggie Tales game for his Game Boy. I purchased it on sight months ago because I was sure it would be the ultimate coup: What could be more mesmerizing than the marriage of the game play elements of Super Mario 3 with Veggie Tales characters AND MUSIC!? So imagine my disappointment when he spent a whole 5 minutes looking at it before shelving the now less than ‘perfect’ gift idea I’d come up with all by myself.
A couple days later, I rescued the game from its virtual trash dump and fired it up in a derelict Game Boy to see what the problem was. Within seconds, I sensed a presence looking over my shoulder at my embarrassingly brutal skills. I was almost instantly ‘stuck’ in the puzzle because I hadn’t bothered to read the instructions or view the tutorial. Tommy even started to laugh at me. How humiliating! After much trial and error, I discovered how to ‘push’ the movable block so I could stand on it to jump to another platform thingy. What a feeling! I had just started to say “Ha, look at THAT!” to my tormenter when, WHOOSH!! As quick as you please, he snapped the game out of my hands and booked it down the hall.
I was both shocked and momentarily annoyed because I wanted to see what the next challenge would be. Tommy has never, ever done anything like that to my knowledge. I shouted after him, “Wait! I was playing with that….” But Tommy only giggled with glee at the funny trick he’d played on me. You know, that is something people have done to him his whole life, and he clearly enjoyed the shoe finally being on the other foot for a change. I was ‘safe’ for him to do that to.
It then also occurred to me that this is why Tom had stopped the game so quickly; he’d gotten stuck there as well. Ah, at least I was able to help him, and now he was playing the game! (So, no $18 down the tubes for nothing) A little while later, he came back down the hall chanting, “Shelby? Shelby?”… He burst into the room and nearly knocked me off of my chair. Thrusting the Game Boy into my hands, he finished the tirade with, “Help!” Ah, so NOW he needed my help again? I felt strangely warm and fuzzy inside.
It turns out that Larry Boy, the Super Hero cucumber protagonist of the game, can shoot toilet plungers out of his ears! (Who knew?) They’ll stick to the ‘targets’ on the ceiling, allowing him to swing back and forth before launching himself through the air. I’m not even going to admit how long this took me to figure out, but Tom kept getting frustrated that I was letting the timer count down to zero without making the required forward progress. Finally, Larry Boy flew through the air onto the right platform! And once again, WHOOSH! Away went Tommy and his Game Boy. I now felt sort of used and abused, but still warm and fuzzy nonetheless. …
Over the past few days, this has played out again several times. I am absolutely positive Tommy knows how to move that cucumber properly. I mean, that boy can make those vegetables dance all over the place so fast it makes my head spin! But in a few select levels, and always in the same place on the level, along comes Tommy with his, “Shelby? Shelby! Help!” business. By fluke perhaps, this initial mutual interaction offered something Tommy has perhaps never done before; working together with another soul toward a common goal. And thus far, he can’t get enough of it. Yeah, I get used and then abruptly left without so much as a ‘thank-you’. But you know, I can’t seem to get enough of it, either.