By Dom Cioffi
My son has enjoyed the last week off due to spring break. During the last seven days, he has successfully accomplished nothing. At least I thought he accomplished nothing, until he came to me with a strange problem.
“Dad?” he queried while holding his hand up in front of my face. “I think I have the flesh-eating virus.”
“Well,” I replied. “I think if you had the flesh-eating virus, you’d be a lot worse off physically, but let’s take a look.”
I grabbed his hand and looked at it carefully. Sure enough, the skin on the pad on both of thumbs was wearing away. I knew from my own experiences that this was most likely due to a repetitive motion, not unlike what a guitarist gets from constantly fretting and strumming strings.
“What have you been doing excessively with your hands?” I asked. He could think of nothing and reiterated his fear that it was some rare disease that would ultimately kill him.
And then in a flash, the answer dawned on me.
I grabbed him by the hand and led him upstairs to our playroom where I quickly located the remote control for his Xbox. I then told him to hold it like he was about to play. Once it was in his hands, I asked him to look where his thumbs were.
As he looked down, I could see his little brain churning. “There’s no way I wore the skin off my thumbs from playing video games,” he said sheepishly.
I rolled my eyes and repeated my most popular mantra, “You spend too much time playing video games!”
Normally I keep a handle on his usage but during this past week he’s been home alone while my wife and I are at work, which means he’s had unrestricted access to the console. I threatened to take his controller with me to work, but I didn’t want to completely cut him off from his friends since they had made plans to meet up in their virtual getaways to wreak havoc.
Thankfully one of his buddies called midweek and asked if he wanted to go to the movies. I was more than thrilled to know he was getting out of the house so I agreed to drop him off on my way to work.
When we got to the house that morning, his friend popped out of the front door to greet us. To my surprise, he was decked out in a fairly shocking outfit for a middle schooler.
He was wearing an all-white Adidas track suit with black stripes down the leg and arms. It was made from some fancy quasi-plastic fabric that made it shine in the morning sunlight. On his feet were matching white basketball shoes, of a style that I was not familiar with.
“Nice outfit,” I said. “All that’s missing is some gold bling around your neck.”
I could tell by the way he was standing that this was a new outfit that he was looking forward to showing off.
My son, of course, was a disheveled mess, with an abundance of uncombed hair and the same wrinkled sweat pants and t-shirt he slept in the night prior.
“What kind of sneakers are those?” I asked.
Before his friend could answer, my son piped up and replied, “Really, Dad? You don’t know what Yeezy’s are?”
I admitted my shoe illiteracy and was dutifully enlightened that Yeezy’s are the sneakers designed by rapper Kanye West in collaboration with Adidas. That was all I needed to hear to determine that they were more than likely massively overpriced, non-functional footwear.
Later, when I got to work, I did a quick Google search to find out the skinny on Yeezy’s. Sure enough, kids are robbing each other to get to them, mostly because the nearly $400 price tag makes them inaccessible to 99.9 percent of the population.
I took a deep breath, knowing that it was likely Yeezys would be coming up in future conversations with my son.
This week’s film, “Ready Player One,” is set in a dystopian future where kids are more worried about wearing clean clothes than they are about owning fancy sneakers.
Based on the popular novel by Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” imagines a future where things are so bad that the majority of people opt to spend their time in a virtual world called The Oasis. Unfortunately, corporate powers want to hijack The Oasis in order to control humanity.
As much as I loathe the whole video game thing, I have to admit that this was an interesting and compelling film, even if it was made for a younger audience. The effects are mesmerizing and the possibilities suggested by the story are intriguing.
Check this one out if you played video games at any point in your life. No doubt something you remember will be referenced.
A cybernetic “B” for “Ready Player One”.
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.