You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging much in the last week or so. That’s because I have no spatial sense.
Some of you may be saying, “What?” So I’ll explain.
First of all, you should know that I come by my lack of spatial sense honestly, through genetics. My father could get lost sliding from one end of the couch to the other. When he wanted to plan a car trip for the family, the only way he could read a map was to spread it out on the kitchen table and use a penny to stand for our Studebaker. Slowly, speaking aloud the exit numbers, he’d move the coin along the route. Every time he had to make a turn, he’d rotate the map, and say, “Let’s see. North is …?” Once we were actually in the car, he wouldn’t remember anything. At every junction, he’d shake his head in disbelief and say, “Do me something, but I could have sworn this was gonna be 87. Where’d 95 come from all of a sudden?”
My mother could never remember the numbers of the roads. She was not bad at reading maps, but whenever she opened one, she immediately got sidetracked by trying to figure out how to refold it. “Let’s see, the crease goes this way, but then it goes that way. Hmm.” She did, however, know landmarks, but only if they had any family history attached to them. “Watch for the Howard Johnson’s, and about two blocks before you get there, make a right.”
My father would say, reasonably enough I always thought, “How can I make a right before the goddamned Howard Johnson’s if I can’t see it yet, f’Chrissake?”
“Oh, you know that Howard Johnson’s. The one where Larry asked for a peach cone and they gave him pistachio by mistake?”
“I don’t remember that. What did I have?”
My father always had chocolate, wherever we went. He was not very adventurous when it came to ice cream. Or adventures either, for that matter. “Don’t give me any landmarks. Just tell me a number. Or a name, at least.”
“The Hutch. We’ll watch for a sign that says the Hutch. I think it might be near that gas station where we once stopped to pee.”
“Oh, f’cryinoutloud. We always stop to pee. Is that where the Hutch is?”
“No, that’s where the sign is.”
In any case, my parents had no spatial sense, and neither do I. Which is why it was probably a dumb move on my part to buy the Chessmaster program.
When the software arrived about two weeks ago, I was automatically ranked at 900, based on my answers to a few simple questions, most of which involved my willingness to let my name be floated around the Internet as a potential sucker for sales pitches. The evil Chessmaster then started throwing virtual opponents at me, and it wasn’t long before I whittled myself down to the high negatives.
In the process, I did manage to learn a few simple precepts. Develop your muscles before bishops. Fight for control of Lincoln Center. Never play with queens too early. That knight on the rim’s named Jim. Watch out for forks and skewers (although other cooking utensils are OK). I’ve even memorized a few common openings: the Wild-Indian Defense, the Sicilian Mafia, the “Illegal Immigrant” Lopez (first round up all your opponent’s suspicious-looking pieces, then ask questions), and of course, the French Chef (hit ’em with a cleaver, and bon appétit).
But I now sit comfortably at around –1000, and I’m playing computeroid children, some of whom don’t know the difference between a rook and a Lego.
Maybe if the kids I battle were labeled by religious affiliation, I’d have an easier time trying to defeat them. I’m sure that if they were classified as representatives of the dark forces, I could probably work myself into a rage — at least at their fictional god-and-pawn-pushing parents. Instead, I feel avuncular. I tell myself: What would it do to Cassie’s poor little simulated ego if I checkmated her? Not that I can, mind you.
So that’s why I haven’t been blogging much lately. To make the world a better place, I’ve been single-handedly battling the cyber-tots. We cannot let the robots win!
Umm … please don’t hide your king in your mouth, sweetheart.