Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Game of Perfection (or, 'My First Stress Test')

Remember that 'ol Milton Bradley game, Perfection? The one with oddly-shaped pieces that needed to be placed in their respective holes on a big plastic board before the timer ran out, lest it all spontaneously springs up, tossing your well-placed shapes everywhere and giving you a near-heart attack in the process?

Yeah, I hated that game.

In the classic Chicken-and-Egg conundrum, I'm not quite sure which came first; my intense and primordial hatred and loathing for strictly-timed mental-aptitude tests which therefore governed the deeply rooted anxiety that game brought out; or the deeply rooted anxiety that game brought out, which in turn fed my intense and primordial hatred and loathing for strictly-timed mental-aptitude tests. In other words, do I despise the game because of what it is (basically a stress test) or do I hate what it is because of the game?

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I say I'll take my chances...

Because let's face it, that's really what this torture-chamber-in-a-box really is; an adolescent mental stress test. I don't know about you, but MY face never looked so happy and entertained as the cheery little cherubs on the box would suggest -- more often it would be decidedly more frowny in appearance, with possibly a bead or two of sweat forming on the brow as the incessant ticking of the timer distracted me from finding the hexigonally-shaped hole.

I do find it amusing there's a warning label on the box that simply says, "Choking Hazard...not suitable for children under 3", as if that's the only danger this game poses. I believe it should really say: "Psychological Hazard - may cause aneurysms due to exceedingly-high stress levels... may scar your child for life and cause him/her heightened anxiety when placed in similarly stressful situations down the road.... Side effects may include heightened agitation near clocks, an unnatural fear of geometric shapes, and a constant feeling of being 'rushed'... " To this day I can't play games (board, video, or otherwise) which force players to complete a certain amount of tasks before time runs out. And despite working in the publishing field, the thought of strict deadlines makes my heart palpitate. Sometimes, while working on a desperately-needed layout, I feel as if any minute my keyboard may go BAM!!! and spray key shrapnel everywhere like a Vietnamese booby-trap.

Thank you, Milton Bradley, you sons of a bitch.

(NOTE: Thanks to Steve for the inspiration to write this entry, who somehow was able to recite the entire Perfection jingle on cue.)


Steve said...

[[ (NOTE: Thanks to Steve for the inspiration to write this entry, who somehow was able to recite the entire Perfection jingle on cue.) ]]

I'm glad you said this... because I was going to ask you this question:

"Did we talk about this recently? Not too long ago, I had a delightful discussion about the Perfection game which ended in me singing an impromptu version of the 70s commercial jingle. Was that with you?"

Now, clearly, I know it was. Was that New Years Eve? Anyway...

Yes, you're right on the money with this blog, and, as I am certain I mentioned, the way those f**kers popped up sufficiently freaked me out that it made the otherwise enjoyable challenge utterly unenjoyable. I told my mother, and she suggested that I DON'T "push the plunger down" (as the song went) but do "set the timer." This way, if time runs out, I hear it stop clicking and realize that I lost the game, but I didn't have exploding plastic pieces scaring the s**t out of me.

I must admit, it was a brilliant suggestion. It worked when I was a kid, but, in truth, this past year I played some Perfection again and, even at age 38, elected to do it without pushing the board down. Who needs that kind of nonsense? Being startled = not good.

Remember when kids used to "jump out" at you from hiding and scream something? Then they'd all be like, "Ha ha! I scared you!" as though you were some kind of p*ssy who was afraid of them. I mean, anything startling you unexpectedly could make you jump, right? (This sounds like it's turning into my own blog entry in your comments section--which has happened before.) However, it all sounds pretty familiar and I am pretty sure I already wrote a blog about this subject.

Next up... the stress of Stratego. "This could be the flag! CRAP! It's a bomb!" Let's blindly attack things with a guess based on nothing that it is not a bomb. Strategy my ass!

Anonymous said...

I did quite well at that game and thought about a career in the bomb squad.