Entry 214: This is Your Brain on Crush

I hate to have to “out” her in public like this,* but my wife Barbara is an addict.

bejeweled21[1]Her addiction actually began years ago with something called Bejeweled, which is clearly a gateway game, a stepping stone to the hard stuff. I have personally become beholden to Bejeweled, and I can tell you it’s a bitch to give it up cold turkey. You have to step down gradually, from the timed game, to the untimed game, to Minesweeper to solitaire, or else you face a long, horrible life enduring the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.

But Barbara was always looking for a wilder ride, a higher high, a bigger thrill.

Then one day she was innocently hanging around on Facebook, when a “friend” said, “Hey, look what I’m doing.  Wanna try?”  The peer pressure was too much for Barbara, especially since the first taste was free, as it often is, because they know that once you’ve experienced the high of that sweet, sweet candy there’s no going back.  And, after all, it looked kind of like Bejeweled, and she had kicked that habit. So why not give it a try?

But Candy Crush is much more addictive than Bejeweled, and sure enougcandy-crush-saga_1_big[1]h, when she tried her first “level” of Candy Crush, Barbara instantly fell under its spell.  Now she starts going through withdrawal if she’s away from the candy for more than a few hours.

She tried to get me hooked, too, even taunting me on my own “wall” that she was playing Candy Crush and I should, too. And I am weak; I did try it. But soon it was asking me for money in exchange for my next hit, or “life,” and I managed to pull away before it was too late.

Barbara, not so much. During the day, if I went into her office, I’d find her playing on her computer, dazed and totally immersed, so that I would have to ask “what’s for dinner” multiple times before getting a response, which, as often as not, was an  unintelligible mumble. At night, while watching TV, I’d glance over and see the brightly colored candies reflected in her eyes as she played on her iPad, barely aware of what show was on. Once we watched an entire episode of a show in which a character named “Stephen Rea” was mentioned about 50 times, and, afterwards, I made some comment about Stephen Rea, to which Barbara replied, “Who?

adamlevineI assume she even plays Candy Crush in her dreams. Possibly with Adam Levine.

To her credit, Barbara is trying not to let her habit affect our finances. She has gone so far as establishing aliases for herself, playing under assumed names to avoid the exorbitant fees the dealer demands in order to reach the highest levels. My brother-in-law informs me that Barb’s younger sister Karen is hooked as well, maybe even more so, thus dragging our entire extended family into the morass of addiction.

I don’t know how long the fake name scam is going to keep Barbara and Karen going.  They may soon start holding up convenience stores so they can feed their habits and use the real money they steal to buy fake stuff to use in the game.  Then they may drive off a cliff together, Thelma and Louise style, not so much to go out in a blaze of glory, but because they were both playing Candy Crush on their smartphones and didn’t see the “DANGER: CLIFF AHEAD” sign.

I feel as though I should do something before I get a call from CVS asking me to come pick up the crazy lady who’s maniacally rearranging the candy bars by the checkout counter.  I love Barbara very much, but it is obviously time for some tough love, perhaps even an intervention. Are there Crushers Anonymous meetings in Stamford? Is there a Candy Crush equivalent of methadone?

Where’s Ms. PacMan when you need her?

See you soon.

*Considering the number of followers this blog has, referring to it as “public” may be a stretch.

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