Off-duty in the game store’s gift return line

The Christmas holidays are a great time to spend with family and friends, as well as others in the return line at your local retail store — people who would kill you with a shard of glass just to move up one spot in the “Eternal Line of Returns.” The line extends from the store counter to somewhere in central Montana.

Take that and amplify it 50 times and you have the return line at the local electronic games store.

You know those games the kids play, such as “Navy Seals” or other shooter games where they team up and play other people online (“other people” meaning 40-year-old guys who still live with mom)? Well, if you want to see what those 40-year-olds look like, go to the electronic game store on Dec. 26.

They’re easy to spot. Look for the guys 40 pounds overweight, with skin texture that appears similar to a large squid. Secondly, listen. They speak a language unknown to man, but known to the electronic store employee who, in all fairness, has to know the language — though some look like they knew it all along and will be moving in with mom come their late 30’s.

I’m not mocking them from the outside. No indeed! Santa brought me a new PS3 after I convinced Detective Sandy to tell Santa that Blu-ray was really cool, which it is. However, I had a second agenda. I like video games, especially the Madden Football and other sports games that I’m terrible at.

I have the PS2 in my man-cave at home and have enjoyed building baseball and football dynasties horrible enough to make Arthur Blank cringe and start looking for my replacement after three games into the season. My football and baseball dynasties have an impressive record of somewhere around 3-789. The computer has fired me so many times the software company offered me half off on a new game called “Getting a Life.”

I created a team that lost and then, if losing on the team wasn’t enough, I then created a baseball player who begins a career so bad that the only teams now interested in signing him are the Tijuana Meth Queens and the Wankdorf Fighting Salamanders.  Hardly a career stellar enough to justify my player named “Rocky Savage!”

While standing in line trying not to look like a 50-something living with mom, I listened to a couple of moms who were also standing in the Eternal Line of Return,  discussing in great detail whether or not their kids were affected by playing violent video games:

Buffy: “I’m not convinced they do create violent tendencies. I think it’s all spun up by a bunch of psychologists who think it’s the same thing as Ozzie Osborne influencing kids to worship Satan, or Dan Fogelberg turning us all into passive twits in the ‘70s. Bobby is the same kid he’s always been.”

Isabella: “Well, I’m glad to hear that. How’s Bobby doing?”

Buffy: “He’s fine. Last week they moved him from solitary back to the general prison population.”

As far as shooting games, I didn’t do well on the first-shooter games because I got shot. At least the enemy could let me run around for while until I get shot! Every time I invaded the beach, I fell off the boat and drowned or got lost! How do you get lost invading the beach? I ran around until I ended up in a gun bunker — with the wrong guys. Just as I was saying, “Hey, how come my uniform is different than yours?” — I got shot.

My brother, a huge Dan Fogelberg fan, and also a rookie to the first-shooter games, complains he gets killed because his soldier is just dumb — and apparently deaf.

He’s OK until he gets to a building and then, repeatedly, gets lost. So, while looking out a window to figure out where the heck he is, an enemy soldier sneaks up from behind, has lunch, smokes ‘em if he has ‘em, and then stabs him since the enemy doesn’t want to waste a bullet on a passive twit from the ‘70s.

He said the only time he can progress in the game, apparently, is when the enemy guys, who live with their mothers, break for a snack.

I suggested we face off against each other online and duel to the death. It didn’t work out. We got lost and never found each other. I assume we died, somewhere in Normandy, of old age.

For a change of pace, I tried “Grand Theft Auto.” I don’t even know what the goal of the game is. I just like to wreck the cars. I found it therapeutic — except the part where I got beat up by the hookers. I think I angered them when I cranked up the Dan Fogelberg 8-track in my stolen Ford Fairmont.

My virtual military, sports and thug careers have not done well at all. I’d like to say something like, “Well, this means that I’m a man who likes reality and not some stupid video game, so this only means that I’m well adjusted to life!” The fact is I have that need for a winning football dynasty, or to be able to attack the beach without falling down and getting run over by my own tank, or getting beat up by a squad of hookers!

Maybe I should go back to the basics and the mother of all games: NFL Electric Football!


“You idiot! Why are you running in circles??!! The ($&^*#@) goal line is over there !!!!

9 comments Add your comment


December 30th, 2009
8:28 am

FPS (first-person shooters) or RPG (role-playing games)-type games were never my forte. I prefer puzzle or casual games, like Bejeweled or the Hoyle collection of card and puzzle games I have on my computer.

I just don’t have the time or the patience for FPS games like anything with the words “Tom” and “Clancy” in the title, and I definitely don’t have the time or patience for MMORPG games like World of Warcrack.

Of course, no matter how much blood spatter the current games show, or if it even shows the bullet actually drilling into the skin and the bone of the human target, nothing can top Wolfenstein 3D. I once had a copy on CD-ROM, but tossed it when it started acting up on the computer.


December 30th, 2009
10:37 am

Very funny, sir, thanks for the laughs.


December 30th, 2009
12:08 pm

So Patrick, How many Dan Fogelberg albums do you have?

Patrick's offspring

December 30th, 2009
1:33 pm

Wow, dad. That was a really good story. Tell us the one about the time you went to the post office, and they gave you the wrong Andy Capp commemorative edition postage stamp. You know, they gave you the one with the picture of Andy fighting Florrie, but you wanted the one with the picture of Andy and Chalkie having a pint at the pub. So you had to drive back to the post office, and ask if they could exchange the sheet. And the lady was kind of confused, but you pointed out which one you were looking for, and she went ahead and exchanged it for you. But it was real close there for a time, wasn’t it, pops. Whew — it really did get a little hairy there for a minute, didn’t it, dad?

What a truly exhilarating life you’ve led, sir. Kudos.


December 31st, 2009
6:43 am

I tried to return my Pong game as defective because a little square just kept going from side to side and top to bottom on my big screen. It was really annoying. My 8 track chewed up my new CCR tape. It wasn’t a very good Christmas. What time does the Post Office open for business?


December 31st, 2009
8:26 am

Well written, funny and a pleasure to read. To really appreciate it, it helps if you aren’t young and clueless.


December 31st, 2009
12:36 pm

I played my war game online yesterday again. Apparently I am the soldier that arrived at the battle on the short bus, I throw a grenade and watch as it misses the window and returns to my feet. I am not fast, and I die a horrible explosive death. Or, for a change of pace, I throw a stun grenade at the doorway to disorient the bad guys. Sadly, I hit the door frame with the grenade and end up hopelessly blinding myself until a bad guy comes up to me and chuckles as he stabs me. Fighting terrorists while enjoying a nice Jack and Coke is the only way to play online.


January 3rd, 2010
12:39 pm

funny article as always :) I recommend the old school handheld Coleco football game from the 1970’s…it is possible to win at that one…if I can get a touchdown on that then anyone can


January 4th, 2010
9:07 am

Let’s stick to writing about police reports.