Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Monday, July 31, 2006

On hospitals and handhelds

Handheld gaming makes Grandma and I quite a sight on our frequent trips to hospitals and doctors offices after her surgery a couple weeks ago. Thanks to Nintendo and Sony, she has two DS's, a DS lite, and a PSP. I recently splurged on a PSP so we can utilize the multiplayer functions. Besides, I was jealous, goddammit. We each have a case that can hold a PSP, a DS, games for each system and the appropriate cords. We're a regular walking LAN party on these hospital trips, and it's somewhat difficult to hide.

The day after Grandma returned from the hospital in Akron, she was complaining of dizziness, chest pain and a numb feeling in her leg; all symptoms of clotting, something that has scared her in the past. She called the nurses station at St. Thomas hospital for some ideas on how to handle the situation as per their instructions at the time she discharged. They didn't have many guesses (and also, one can't really give medical advice over the phone without the idea of a possibly heavy lawsuit floating around their minds.) "Go to the ER, we don't know what to tell you" they said.

She wasn't to happy about having to return to the hospital. "Goddammit, I know what they're going to say if I go to the ER. They're going to check my vitals, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, blood sugar, that shit... then they're going to do an EKG and maybe an MRI, tell me they don't know what it is and send me home. AND I'm going to waste six hours of life doing it, too. Fuck..." As it turns out, she called it exactly, and in order. Because of her limitless knowledge of ER procedure, she told me: "we're going to be there for fucking EVER. Grab the handhelds. All of them."

On the way to the ER, we stopped at the post office for the mail. Her trusty Pontiac Grand-Am refused to start after I got back in the car. I ran to a towing service office to see if we could get a jump. I tried not to sound too dramatic in explaining that Grandma was in the car (approaching 95 degree heat-index that day) and we were on the way to the hospital. Grandma could have waited in the Post Office where it was cool, but you know Grandma- she's a stubborn son of a bitch. The tow truck driver took all of 30 seconds cleaning some corrossive shit all over the battery terminals and tightening them a bit and the car started beautifully. It was kind of embarrassing actually.

At the hospital, Grandma used the magic words that grant a person immediate access to assistance: "Chest Pain." She took her handhelds and her insurance paperwork and headed into the back to be suited up in one of those "ridiculous hospital gowns" and I stayed in the waiting room as the beginning of the Isreali-Lebanese war flashed across the televisions above apathetic people reading TV Guide and Reader's Digest. I immediately broke out Lumines.

Lumines is a great game for hospitals. Not only is it enjoyable, it has a little game-clock so you know exactly how much time you've pissed away connecting similarly colored blocks. It's good hard evidence you can provide to any asshole who insists you haven't been waiting long.

Mechanic Asshole: "Yeah we told you 30 minutes for an oil change and we meant it. It's almost done."
You: "Really? We check out my LUMINES clock, bitch! I started playing when I gave you the keys and it says I've played for 47:32!"
Mechanic Asshole: "Damn, you're right. My humble apologies. Here's a free car and a bag of money."

Nurse Asshole: "Yeah, I know it doesn't look like we're doing anything and just standing around bullshitting while your little sister is screaming to go to the bathroom, but we're actually doing important nurse things. Medical things that you wouldn't be able to understand or spell. Besides, it couldn't have been more than 10 minutes."
You: "Lumines clock, motherfucker. LUMINES CLOCK."
Nurse Asshole: "Oh my god, you are right. To make up for my mistake I give you the magical pendant of good health and immortality we usually save for rich people."

It works in any situation.

After a few hours of trying to score some new songs, I was allowed to go back and see Grandma. Grandma had been trying to play Daxter, but apparently nurses and doctors in emergency rooms actually DO things to the people admitted there. Who woulda' thought? Despite the distraction of being treated, Grandma had advanced passed a particularly tricky level.

As Grandma predicted, they told her to go home and take some Asprin.

The next day, the dizziness continued and she called her doctor's office to schedule an appointment. They told her to go to the ER to get checked out again.

"This some stupid bullshit right here. I was just THERE!!"

So, we grabbed the handhelds and went back to the grind; this time I was able to conquer The New Super Mario Brother's on the DS. We were there for so long, reaching 100% didn't seem like too difficult a goal. Grandma played Hot Shots Golf 2 on the PSP and moved on to Big Brain Academy on the DS Lite. I really can't think of a better way to spend so much time in places where we would otherwise do nothing.

About a week later, MOM started having chest pains; bad ones, part of her own entirely unique sort of health problems. Mom called her doctor and received the common advice for such things. Equipped with the training Grandma had provided, I grabbed the handhelds and we headed to the ER. I was able to watch BOTH Kill Bill movies on the PSP before Mom finished up. They prescribed some medication and scheduled a heart catheterization. Grandma had one of her own earlier this year, so we all knew pretty much what to expect.

When Grandma drove Mom to the hospital in Cleveland, she went prepared.

Both Grandma and Mom are doing great now. Grandma's surgery was labeled a success by her doctor in Akron (Grandma: PSP with Daxter; Me: DS with Advance Wars Dual Strike) and Mom heard much better news than she was expecting upon receiving the results of her test.

Handhelds just work with hospitals.

But! Remember this: people are smug. Sure, Grandma and I get a few laughs from people when we plug in our units while in the waiting room; moving hospital furniture around as discreetly as possible to find an outlet. But the a person's perception of a person playing a video game changes. Remember that in hospitals and doctor's offices chances are the people we meet waiting around for their turn are nervous and have their minds on other things. If we sit reading a magazine or if we choose to watch the television, people will come sit next to us and they might even chat for a bit. If we play PSP or DS with or without a set of headphones, however, we become the pariahs of the waiting room, and people tend to avoid us.

To those people, I wonder why you avoid us. If you see someone playing a PSP staring intently at the screen, do you not sit by them because you don't want to disturb their game, or do you not sit by them because somewhere in your mind, video games are associated with punk kids?

I'm sure Grandma and I whispering stifled vulgarity at particularly challenging parts of games doesn't help, but come on- we're at least trying.

Game on!

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Vanity Plates; Daxter; Minor Surgery

Grandma thought it would be cool to label her POS Poniac Grand Am with something a bit more substantial than a bumpersticker, so she ordered customized lisence plates with the tag: "OGHC," as though the local police aren't already on the lookout for a vulgar woman speeding to and from Gamestop. She's currently devoting most of her time playing Daxter for the PSP, which has allowed her to get used to the tiny thumbstick. Yesterday she went into St. Thomas Hospital in Akron for minor back surgery; the surgeon told me everything went well and I'm going to pick her up today! So... good news all around.

I've never been a fan of vanity plates. I'm not a speeder really and I don't drink and drive but I've always felt a little nervous passing a police car with a dude inside focusing his attention on everything I do. A few things give cops the excuse to pull over some jackass just to make sure they don't have a doobie in the ashtray and a body in the trunk: first being a bumpersticker that reads "Fuck tha PO-lice," second being a Hummer H2 with a gun rack and an image of a fetus in the back engraved with the phrase "Confederacy NOW." Third is a vanity plate.

However: when Grandma first suggested the plates for her car she was kidding around. She wasn't even certain how to go about acquiring such a thing, and was pretty sure a four digit tag was either reserved for government plates or already taken. Just to be a smartass, she looked into it and bought them.

I put them on the car because she couldn't bend that low.

Her worst fear is being pulled over for a broken tail light or some stupid thing and have a police officer ask "so what's OGHC stand for?" The answer has already illicited stares from DHL delivery drivers, I'm sure it would be a less than pleasant experience with a person with any authority. If, by chance, she runs into some backwoods sherriff with a hard-on for pornography and "librels," she's fucked.

She wasn't quite sure where to begin on the PSP given the 20 games Sony sent her, so she took your advice and bough Lumines ($12.00 used at any GameStop) and played around with Medieval Ressurection and Daxter, settling on the last to get started because she made it the farthest the quickest.

Grandma playing the PSP is like watching a kid try to play one of those awkward ball mazes they give as stocking stuffers at company parties. She flails about, moving her arms from side to side and, when in the car, up and down to match the challenge of glare as it appears from passing trees.

"It's a platform game. Literally. You jump from platform to platform and kill bugs, I don't know what to tell you. I only killed a couple bosses so far so far... Tim, I can't give you a review till I'm further on in this thing, what the fuck do you want me to tell you?

Just tell people it's fucking hard."

The pains in Grandma's back that made me panic back in May were finally corrected yesterday in a surgery that involves injected what is more or less concrete onto her spine in an effort to fuse a fracture. She HATES anyone fucking around with her back, but after a lot of bitching and moaning she went in and had the thing fixed. To tell the truth, I was more nervous about this one than she was; any time they use general anesthesia I get the shakes that she won't wake up. Grandma brought her DS lite and her PSP to the hospital, so tomorrow I should have a better opinion of Daxter from her because she's been laying on her back with nothing else to do but focus on the game.

I'm curious how much further she's gotten, and what sort of opinions the nurses in Akron had upon discovery of her "hobby."

I'll let you know more about Daxter and the hospital tomorrow after I get back. Also, Grandma has some opinions about a few things in the gaming news recently she would like to express ;)

Game on!

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