Looking for a friend

Posted 3/23/22

Like many others, I relax by playing games on my telephone. In addition to the usual solitaire, Jelly Candy Crush, Words with Friends and various casino slot aps also grace the front of my …

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Looking for a friend

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Like many others, I relax by playing games on my telephone. In addition to the usual solitaire, Jelly Candy Crush, Words with Friends and various casino slot aps also grace the front of my phone.

Solitaire is a convenient game because it can be started and stopped as time allows. Waiting in a long line at Chick Fil A, start the game. In line at the bank, pick the game up where it was left off. Later, at home waiting for dinner to cook, finish off the game. It is the perfect mind occupier for those eternally connected to their phones.

A dependent upon WiFi game is Jelly Candy Crush. It is just one of the hundreds of Candy Crush games, (Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Jelly, Candy Crush Soda, and so on and so forth.) The joy of it is that there is a real, alive alternate player at the other end of the game. Just myself and someone named Mohammed, Ameena, Sangson, Ella or Etu battling it out on the game board, making matches which can either produce a dud move, or a move so strong and ongoing that in one, fell swoop, all of the fish are swimming and the puffers are puffing.

Many opponents chose to put their own picture in the “player” spot, whereas I chose the more irreverent computer-generated icon, a beet. Sexless, ageless and nameless, my beet can outwit the best of the Isabellas and Josiahs out there.

The opponents with personalized pictures have caught my attention lately. They are young and old, male and female, and from every country where WiFi games are permitted. Generally, I pay attention to the mechanics of the game, ignoring the very limited social contact available. Some other players seem to take joy in communicating with a thumbs up or a thumbs down, or a cheering icon. One opponent was a woman wearing a hijab with only her eyes showing. She was cheering throughout the game, even when I was winning! She was playing a social game that needed no translation. She needed a friend. What I may have been playing as a past-time to prevent boredom, some people see it as a connection to the outside world. In the activity of playing Candy Crush, everyone speaks the same language.

Words with Friends is MY social game as there is the opportunity to converse back and forth with one’s opponents. Our banter is banal, hellos and how are you doing? It keeps me grounded socially, having a conversation with a friend as though this crazy epidemic isn’t still swirling around us. We challenge each other with rare, new words such as basorexia, (the overwhelming desire to kiss,) or latibule, (a comforting hiding place.) Whereas using the “antique” version of a game such as Scrabble, and one could lay down wooden tiles spelling non-sensical words and get credit for it, the electronic aps do not allow for combinations of letters that aren’t actual words. Bring on orrie and awumbuk.

The slot machine games that beckon tease me with unimaginable winnings. Given eight million dollars a day with which to play, I joyfully watch the wheels turn, spitting out matches and bonus rounds here and there. As the money piles up, I can only imagine winning the ten million won on the pretend slot machine. I foolishly went to Bally’s (Twin River) to play the same games, expecting my real money to add up the way it does in the slot machines on my phone. Alas, it was a disappointing day. My twenty dollars was gone in no time!

My initial reason for mentioning all of this goes back to the opponent wearing a hijab. Her constant waving and saying hello was a call for friendship from the other side of the world. Among my silly little games was a sobering thought. Whether we speak the same language or have the same beliefs, we are all just looking for a friend.

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