She’s a good one, basically. I mean a little flaky, maybe, but who isn’t these days. Who has time to be solid, these days? My wife crawls out of bed in the afternoons, slaps her face on, spends the evening hunched over the computer and the whole night crying. I coax her. Mena, come to bed. Mena, eat something. No, being miserable is like one of her principles. Did I mention my wife is very principled? She has principles about all sorts of important things, like you can’t eat this or that on a Friday, and you can’t wear this, and Heaven forbid you say a word you’re not supposed to! Heaven is very big with her, incidentally. I knew that when I met her, I mean I knew she’d been a Jesus freak as a college student, but you figure people change. Look at me. I’m certainly not as stupid as I was in college. I was a socialist for three months, then I was a Green. I’m still a Green, practically speaking. And I’m very open minded. You could say liberal. And not bad bleeding mind liberal either. I won’t confiscate your money for South African peasants or ban your racist rally, because some of us are actually enlightened, and recognize that you’re entitled to whatever misguided bullshit way of thinking you so choose. That’s the American way!
But my wife. She means well. Sometimes she gets sad, you know, sad like we all get. She’s in graduate school, studying music education. She plays the piano. Not shabby, either. If she could get a little Gershwin under her belt – but it’s mostly these dirges about Jesus this and Holy God that. Our merciful Father, save us thy sinners from thy vermin and thy simmering hellfire. How very inspiring. Just imagine I’m up her, midlecture on the Descent of Man, about to drive the point home about the missing links between the apes and Austrelopithecus, and there goes the refrain of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” that I can’t shake from my brain. Yeah, living with Philomena is going to be good for my career.
Now she wants to drag me to this thing, this reunion of hers – I think they’re calling it an Assembly of Christ, which is typical (plus Assembly of Prostletizing Egocentrics doesn’t quite have the same ring) – and I have to cancel my appearance at the annual Biological Sciences Convention because Philomena’s therapist thinks this trip would be good for her. I’ve been prepping this presentation three weeks now. I’ve even got the Powerpoint slides. But I’m going to the Assembly of Christ, for Philomena’s sake, so she can’t run back to the head doctor with yet more evidence of what a shitty husband I am.
Look, it’s not the Jesus-mongering that bugs me. Jesus was a good guy. A: He was a liberal. B: He loved everyone, even the whores. Philomena could do worse. What I don’t appreciate are all the fucking rules. She can’t have sex without pissing God off! (What is He, jealous?) She can’t like normal things. It’s all sin and death, isn’t it. All from a nice Jewish guy in the desert who wanted people to be peaceful. Ah, Philomena – she’s so beautiful, but she just needs to loosen up. You just want to shake her. Live a little, Mena! Don’t be dead at 33 like that guy you pray to. Yes, she prays. She doesn’t do it in front of me or when I’m around, like I’d flip out or something, which I find insulting considering I’d do nothing of the sort. I’m going to be supportive even if I think it’s nonsense. Because, okay, if there were a Big Guy upstairs, don’t you think He’d already know He was something special? He’d need you to tell Him how great and wonderful He was? Otherwise He’d have low self-esteem? Or get pissed at smite someone? That’s the thing. You can’t be merciful and life giving and then go around smiting folks. Or condemning them to Hell if they believe in Krishna or witches or drinking heavily to stay strong. I mean, hey, You made them, so what do You expect? Obviously there were a few kinks in the design specs, huh, Big Guy?
I keep telling Mena she should come to my lectures. Maybe she’d realize that there’s more to the story of the world’s creation than a couple of fruit trees and a snake.
Here's the girlfriend:
Over in this house, I’ve made this family I call The Blessed. There’s a mother and a father and two kids, and the father is a priest even though the game doesn’t list that as one of the occupations. I guess they pick careers that have regular opportunities for worldly advancement, and most priests don’t have much worldly ambition. So his job according to the game is a medical technician. They help people, too. And on the job, if someone’s very ill and dying, he could administer Last Rites. He only makes 200 or 300 an hour, but since I have the cheat code and can get them as much money as I want, he technically doesn’t need to earn anything. And the two kids are both A+ students in school. They don’t even need to study. The way it works is, when you first start out, you have to have them study for a while and get their grades up, and make sure they go off to school in a good mood. But after a while it lists them having a full group of bars – there are these bar displays at the bottom of the screen that tell you how their relationships and jobs and physical possessions are rated – and then you just worry about keeping their moods up, and making sure a parent is available to cook.
So that’s the Blessed family – Reverend Blessed, Mena Blessed (no, she’s not supposed to be me – I mean originally she was, but then I created a Philomena that’s really me) and the kids, Jared and Josephine. Now they have to have friends, because you can’t advance in careers or keep up their social happiness scores unless they have friends. So Mena’s best friend Judy Trudebaker lives across the road. Originally there was a Trudebaker house that I had to delete because the Lola sim ran off with Hamlet from the Shakespeare house. So I got rid of that one and made one with just Judy. The trouble with the game is that the characters just don’t have any morals! You can make them nice or mean, outgoing or shy, neat or messy, but you can’t make them control their impulses. Like I was so focused on having Stern talk to Macbeth and Juliet, to get more family friends, and they have to have a relationship score of +45 or +50 to count as family friends. And suddenly there was Hamlet proposing to Lola! The game doesn’t care if they’re married or have children! Then Stern’s social score plummeted to the red, and he slapped Hamlet. Total impulsive, childish behavior. I’m glad I deleted both those houses. There were too many Shakespeares anyway. I thought if I made a Hamlet and an Ophelia, they’d be a couple, but no – she had better conversations with King Lear. Go figure.
I did make a house with me and Cal in it. I bought them a chemistry set, since Cal’s a scientist and all. I read on the internet that if you have them drink the potions from the chemistry table, their personalities can change. And it’s true. I had the Cal sim drink one of the potions, and suddenly he started always cleaning up the dishes and mopping the floor in the bathroom. His Neat Score went way up1 I thought it was funny since the real Cal is a total neat freak. Everything has to be organized and nothing can ever lie around on the tables, even if you just leave it for a minute and you’re going to come right back. I always thought there was this stereotype about professors that have piles of books and papers in their offices and can’t ever find anything. Cal must be the one who is the exception that proves the rule!
The Philomena sim wears this great purple dress. She looks like a princess! Actually, I did make their house a castle. I used the stone floor tiles and the stone wallpapers. It’s very gray, but then I gave them the bright red couches and tapestry wall hangings. The light fixtures are all candelabras. It’s very romantic. If we had the money, I wouldn’t mind living in a house like that! But no – a music teacher and an assistant professor don’t exactly qualify for pricey European castle living. We could probably rent out the dungeon on our combined salaries, and then we wouldn’t have any entertainment but to string each other up.
I used to have this other house – this stone mansion near the Blessed, actually – that was inhabited by a psycho. His name was Randy Psycho. (I knew this guy in college named Randy, and while he wasn’t exactly a psycho like in the strictest sense of the word, he certainly was odd. I often prayed for him and particularly for his future wife!) I wanted Randy Psycho to be a real serial killer, like the kind you read about on crime shows, and lure people into his basement and do evil things. I was curious about what would cause someone to become such an instrument of Satan, how it would impact the rest of the neighborhood or the world. Of course the game isn’t designed for that, so it was a disaster. To trap the people I would have to pause the game, select the building tool, and draw walls around them, then hit resume. So now they were literally walled in. And these stupids didn’t even realize they were trapped! They would walk around, try to start conversations through the walls, or offer back rubs to Randy Psycho. And they’d ignore any furniture in the room with them, like collapse into sleep on the grass even with the army cot planted right there. Not at all how I’d imagined. I mean, wouldn’t people get frantic and practical in a situation like that – or even realize they were trapped in the first place? Maybe there are even some folks suffering in Hell who don’t realize it’s Hell and that they’re meant to suffer.
I, for one, would not want to be that person. As it is, I’m living in sin with Cal. But I’m not corrupting him, since he only believes in science, and science doesn’t tell you how to behave in bed.